40 Years Ago – the 1980 Grey Cup Game
Would Hamilton have broken the longest championship drought in the league? Could Winnipeg defend their long-sought title? Or would we have seen a completely different scenario unfold? We will never know now of course. Plus we are all keeping our fingers crossed for the 2021 season.
This would have been the run up to the Grey Cup. And I thought it might still be interesting to do a series on the decade anniversaries of the big game. We started with the 1970 game. Now it is time to move forward a decade and look at the 1980 Grey Cup.
The Run up to the Game
The 1970’s had been a good time to be a football fan in Edmonton. During the decade, the then named Esks had gone 97-55-8. That had led to six Grey Cup appearances and three wins. In fact Edmonton had won the last 2 CFL titles including the 1979 game we looked at last year.
The Ti-Cats had had some success early in the Seventies. A 26-15-1 record from 1970-72 had delivered three playoffs and a Grey Cup win in ’72. Since then however they had gone 43-65-2 and not appeared in a Grey Cup game. In fact, although there had been Playoff appearances, 1980 was their first winning season since their last championship in 1972.
1980 Grey Cup Playoffs
Both teams were Division Champions. Which meant they got to sit home on semi-finals week of the 1980 playoffs and see who they would face in the Division Finals.
In the East that meant Hamilton would host the 8-8 Montreal Alouettes. In the West Edmonton would face the 10-6 Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Effectively it was first versus second in either Division for a shot at the Grey Cup.
Hamilton put away Montreal 24-13 and Edmonton rolled over Winnipeg by a score of 34-24. The 1980 Grey Cup game would be a matchup between the two Division winners. But it looked like a mismatch.
Hamilton would have been tied for fourth in the West Division. Over the regular season Edmonton had scored the most points (505) and conceded the least (281) of any team in the league. All of Edmonton’s defeats had been to West Division teams. And when these two teams had met in week nine of the 1980 season, Edmonton had prevailed handily 53-18 on their home field.
The 1980 Grey Cup Game
Edmonton managed their second franchise three-peat with a dominant performance from start to finish in this one. In 1980 they were undoubtedly the best team in the league and this performance just underlined that fact.
The 1980 Grey Cup game was far from being a classic. It was one of the biggest blowouts in CFL championship history. In fact the 38 point margin was second only to the 1923 game when Queens University topped Regina Rugby Club 54-0 when the Grey Cup had been a strictly amateur event.
Warren Moon went 21 of 33 for 398 yards and 3 TD’s to pick up the Outstanding Offensive Player award. On their way to the 48-10 win Edmonton compiled 606 yards of offence compared to Hamilton’s 201 yards.
The dominance was reflected by Edmonton being up 10-3 after one quarter, 24-9 at halftime, and 34-10 after three. Edmonton never let up. This remains the most recent Grey Cup in which one team did not score a touchdown. All of Hamilton’s points were scored by kicker Bernie Ruoff (three Field Goals and one rouge).
Referee Don Barker called the game with four seconds remaining, as celebrating fans had by that point come on to the the field of play. Those four seconds made scant difference to the result!
What Came Next
In 1981 Hamilton would have their best season for years going 11-4-1. But they lost to Ottawa in the East Final. Throughout the Eighties they made the playoffs every year and appeared in the Grey Cup five times (1980, 1984-6, and 1989). They took home one Grey Cup title. Winning the CFL championship in 1986.
On the Edmonton side this Grey Cup win came in the midst of an incredible run. The Esks would win it all in 1981 and 1982 also. An unprecedented five consecutive CFL championships.
They would go on to appear in the CFL post season every year until 2005. That run would see another 8 Grey Cup appearances, and four further title wins.
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