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.
This series started with the 1919 Championship and has spanned the 1929, 1939, ‘49, ‘59, ‘69, ‘79 & ‘89 Grey Cup match-ups so far.
Now it is time to look at the 20 year anniversary match-up of this years’ big game, the 1999 Grey Cup.
The 1999 game saw 45,118 on hand at BC Place stadium in Vancouver. They witnessed the 11-7 Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeat the 12-6 Calgary Stampeders 32-21.
THE RUN UP TO THE GAME
After losing in the 1989 Grey Cup to the Roughriders, the Ti-Cats had not been hugely successful in the 90’s.
In fact they had experienced only one winning season in the decade prior to 1998, that coming in 1992. That year they went 11-7 and reached the Eastern Final before being soundly beaten 59-11 by Winnipeg.
Between 1990 & 1997 they had a cumulative record of 48-96. The arrival of Ron Lancaster as Head Coach in 1998 saw them turn a corner. That year they went 12-5-1 and lost a closely contested Grey Cup to Calgary 26-24.
Now they were back and looking to go one better against Wally Buono and the defending champions.
During the 90’s Calgary were a hugely competitive outfit. Between 1990 and 1999 the Stamps finished 1st in the West Division 7 times and 2nd the other 3.
Over the decade they went 127-52-1 over the regular season. This was the Stamps 5th Grey Cup appearance of the decade. They had finished runners up in 1991 & 1995. Championships had come in 1992 & 1998.
The two teams had faced off twice during the 1999 regular season. The Stamps won 21-17 at home and the Ti-Cats won 31-28 on their turf.
GREY CUP PLAYOFFS
Interestingly neither team had taken their division title. The honours had gone the Montreal Alouettes in the East and BC Lions in the West.
This meant both Hamilton and Calgary had to host their respective semi-finals then travel to face the Division winners.
Hamilton bypassed a 9-9 Toronto team 27-6 to reach the Eastern Championship game. Calgary outpaced a 6-12 Edmonton squad 30-17 to reach the Western Final.
Both Divisional semi-finals were close contests but it was the second place teams that came through.
Calgary took 23-7 halftime lead against BC and hung on with a Field Goal in the 4th to win 26-24 and advance to the Championship game.
Hamilton meanwhile outlasted Montreal 27-26 in a nail-biter to to book their place in the Grey Cup game.
THE GREY CUP GAME
This was a time of improved viewership for the CFL. TNS viewing figures were up 50% over 1998-1999 & the CBC figures were on the rise too. Game attendances were up too.
So the 6th visit to BC Place Stadium was the centerpiece to a season generating some optimism.
The rematch from last year seemed likely to be a close fought contest. Well the Ti-Cats came out with other ideas.
QB Danny McManus hit Ron Williams for a 35 yard pass early to set the pace. That drive was capped by Williams plunging in for a 1 yard Touchdown.
The next 7 points came from the boot of Paul Osbaldiston with 2 field goals and a single.
McManus also hit Darren Flutie for a 13 yard touchdown. Halftime saw the tabbies up 21-0. The Stamps had mustered just 51 yards of offense!
The Ti-Cats led 22-7 in the third when Calgary QB Dave Dickenson threw a 57 yard pass to Travis Moore. That was quickly followed by a touchdown lob to Vince Danielson to put Calgary on the board at 22-7 down.
The Stamps got it to 22-14 when Dickenson hit Allen Pitts for an 18 yard touchdown. 8 points would be as close as they got.
Hamilton hit the next ten points. Another Field Goal from Osbaldiston was supplemented by another TD from McManus to Flutie. Hamilton were 32-14 up early in the fourth.
Calgary would get another TD as Duane Ford ran in from the one near the three minute mark to make it 32-21.
After that the Ti-Cat D held firm and they took home the venerable trophy once more.
WHAT CAME NEXT
There was to be no repeat appearance for Hamilton. They would go 20-16 over the next two seasons and lose in the playoffs to Winnipeg on both occasions.
A series of poor or average seasons marked the ensuing decade for the Tiger-Cats. They did return to the Grey Cup game in 2013 & 2014 but lost on both occasions. As it stands, 1999 is their last championship win.
Calgary would lose in the Western Final in 2000 before returning to the Grey Cup and winning it once more in 2001.
Three down years ensued as the Stamps went 15-39 and missed the playoffs every year. Since then they have been a dominant force in the CFL.
From 2008 onward they have qualified for the playoffs every year, appeared in 6 Grey Cups, and won 3 of them in 2008, 2014, & 2018. During that span they have recorded a remarkable 143-52-3 regular season record too.
Banner image: the Ti-Cats with the Cup in 1999. Image from CFL.ca
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