It’s time for the Banjo Bowl. For fans of the Blue Bombers and Roughriders alike this weeks round of games brings an annual classic. Of course we are just coming off a very enjoyable traditional slate of CFL labour day match-ups. Which included a dominant win for Winnipeg in Saskatchewan.
Following the Labour Day Classics you have a few rematches taking place. But for these two teams the rematch has an added significance, for this week they are battling for the now famous, (or infamous depending on your point of view), ‘Banjo Bowl’. A game that has sold out evey year since 2005.
Even though this is not an official CFL event, the league promotes the game under the ‘Banjo Bowl’ title on its’ website and in some online coverage.
Why is it called that?
It may not be the Grey Cup and it’s only of interest to these two teams but still the competition for this in-season trophy will be fierce.
So where does the Banjo Bowl name come from and what is it all about? According to Wikipedia, ‘the “Banjo Bowl” moniker was coined by a Blue Bombers board member in early 2004, inspired by an infamous comment made by Bombers kicker Troy Westwood in the week prior to a 2003 Western Division Semi-final game between the two teams.’
In a media interview, Westwood had referred to fans of the Riders as “A bunch of banjo pickin’ inbreds”. Before the two teams met in the 2003 West semifinal he apologized for the comment, in the most tongue in cheek way possible; He said “the vast majority of the people in Saskatchewan have no idea how to play the banjo.”
Westwood himself has attributed this all to growing up in the cauldron of the Bombers-Riders rivalry and pointed out many times that it was all in fun and that his mother’s side of the family is from Regina.
It may not be an official event but you can bet both sets of fans will be up for this one and you can expect a loud, sold-out crowd to be on hand.
An Extra Significance
There is an extra significance to this year’s Banjo Bowl. Partially because following a prolonged period of speculation, the CFL cancelled the 2020 season. To have the league and the games back is all the more heartening. And, added to this Winnipeg and Saskatchewan sit first and second in the West Division.
In this shortened season one team taking a grip on the Division, or the other team regaining equality could be all the more important.
Here in the UK we are set to miss out on seeing the game through official channels. BT Sport who have the rights to the CFL in this country are instead showing an Iowa college game. Nor can we access the online stream from TSN as BT Sport’s contract rights preclude this. There is of course radio coverage, and there may be others exploring other options to find a way to the Banjo Bowl.
Banjo Bowl Results:
This will be the 17th ‘Banjo Bowl’ match-up and the Bombers currently lead the series 9-7.
The teams have split the back-to-back series seven times: 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Each time Saskatchewan won the Labour Day Classic and then Winnipeg won the Banjo Bowl at home.
Saskatchewan has swept the Labour Day-Banjo Bowl matchups seven times, in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014 & 2018.
This is how the series has played out so far.
BB1 Sept. 12, 2004 – Bombers 27 Riders 24
BB2 Sept. 10, 2005 – Riders 19 Bombers 17
BB3 Sept. 10, 2006 – Bombers 27 Riders 23
BB4 Sept. 9, 2007 – Bombers 34 Riders 15
BB5 Sept. 7, 2008 – Riders 34 Bombers 31
BB6 Sept. 13, 2009 – Riders 55 Bombers 10
BB7 Sept. 12, 2010 – Bombers 31 Riders 2
BB8 Sept. 11, 2011 – Riders 45 Bombers 23
BB9 Sept. 9, 2012 – Riders 25 Bombers 24
BB10 Sept. 8, 2013 – Bombers 25 Riders 13
BB11 Sept. 7, 2014 – Riders 30 Bombers 24
BB12 Sept. 12, 2015 – Bombers 22 Riders 7
BB13 Sept. 10, 2016 – Bombers 17 Riders 10
BB14 Sept. 9, 2017 – Bombers 48 Riders 28
BB15 Sept. 8 2018 – Riders 32 Bombers 27
BB16 Sept. 7, 2019 – Bombers 35 Roughriders 10
BB17 Sept. 11 2021 – ????????????
Banner Image: Winnipeg host the Banjo Bowl trophy. Image from bluebombers.com