The CFL season is in full swing and before we know it the playoffs, and ultimately the Grey Cup will be upon us.
In the run up to that game in November I thought it might be interesting to do a series on the decade anniversaries of the big game. Staring with 100 years ago, then 90, 80 and so on.
Now it is time to look back on the game celebrating its’ golden anniversary this year, the 1969 game.
The run up to the game
Ottawa and their field General
This was arguably the golden era of Ottawa Rough Rider football. During the 1960’s, Ottawa won their division three times and finished in second place the other seven years.
Russ Jackson took over as Rough Riders QB in his rookie season, when Americans Hal Ledyard and Tom Dimitroff were injured. He went on to play 12 seasons with the Rough Riders. Incredibly, he never missed a game because of injury.
Jackson led the Rough Riders to the playoffs every year that he was with them. He completed 1,356 passes for 24,592 yards and 185 touchdowns and was the Eastern Conference passing leader from 1963 through to 1969.
Saskatchewan and their field General
Saskatchewan meanwhile had gathered their own momentum by the late 1960’s. After a series of Western Semi Final and Final defeats from 1961-65 they finally won the Grey Cup in 1966.
Following their first ever Grey Cup win they had become the dominant team in the West. They had lost the the 1967 final to Hamilton and were back again trying to claim the old trophy for a second time.
The Roughriders had their own legend under centre at this time too. Ron Lancaster had been with Ottawa from 1960-2 but now he had found his CFL home.
Lancaster quarterbacked the Saskatchewan Roughriders to five Grey Cup finals. Including the aforementioned first championship in 1966.
“The Little General” was a four-time CFL all-star in the 1970’s (1970, ’73, ’75 and ’76) and was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player in 1970 and again in 1976.
In 16 years with Saskatchewan, Lancaster led the ‘Riders to the playoffs 14 times.
Going into this game Ottawa would want revenge for the 1966 Grey Cup – for it was they Saskatchewan had beaten to claim their first title.
It looked like it could be a close one. The defending champion Rough Riders were to be faced by a Roughriders team that had won nine straight. Including beating Ottawa 38-21 during that run.
Grey Cup Playoffs
The playoffs had done nothing to dispel the idea that the best teams from each division would face each other in this Grey Cup game.
Both Ottawa and Saskatchewan had finished atop their respective divisions. Saskatchewan at 13-3 were some way clear of a 9-7 Calgary. However, the Rough Rides at 11-3 had been run close by the 10-4 Toronto Argonauts.
In the playoffs the Roughriders dispatched Calgary 2-0 in a best of 3 Western Final Series, winning 17-11 at home and 36-13 away.
The Eastern Final was still a two game contest decided by total overall points. So although the Rough Riders lost 22-14 in Toronto, their 32-3 win in the rematch on their home ground gave them an aggregate win of 46 points to 25.
The Grey Cup Game
For the first time in CFL history, the Grey Cup was played in its entirety on a Sunday.
Saskatchewan took an early 9-0 lead. A safety and a touchdown toss from Lancaster to Alan Ford put them in charge.
The big momentum shifting play came in the third quarter. Saskatchewan had pegged it back to 14-11 when a fumble was recovered by Dan Dever.
Jackson threw his third TD on the next play and Saskatchewan would not score again in the game.
Jackson and Stewart gilded the lily with a 32 yard catch and run TD in the fourth to seal Ottawa’s 29-11 win.
What Came Next
The next year would see Ottawa decline precipitously. They would finish the 1970 season 4-10.
Saskatchewan would be in the playoffs over the next seven years. Unfortunately for them they returned to a pattern of losing in Western Semi-Finals and Finals.
They did make the Grey cup in 1976 – only to lose to Ottawa once more. 13 seasons would then pass before Saskatchewan reached the Grey Cup once more. That is a game we’ll visit later in this series!
Banner Image: Russ Jackson lifts the Grey Cup for Ottawa. Image from Ottawasporthalloffame