Sometimes it’s all about the simple things. In the Wizard of Oz books Dorothy’s shoes are described as silver but everyone remembers the iconic ruby-red slippers from the film better. Screenwriter Noel Langley altered the colour so they would stand out more against the iconic yellow brick road. It just takes someone to make a decision on footwear to change history it seems. Maybe that is just what Argos’ long time equipment manager Danny Webb did.
Perhaps the deciding factor in the instant classic 2017 Grey Cup that has been dubbed ‘the snow globe game’ was as simple as the shoes being worn. Webb has seen plenty of bad weather games in his time with the Argos including watching the double blue play in blizzard conditions in Hamilton in 1996. So when he told the players what to put on their feet, they needed to listen.
Once the snow globe was in full effect and the snow was more than just a flurry Webb had just the thing. He knew traction was the issue and he had brought specialist shoes for just that reason. However throughout the first half quite a few players refused to wear them, thinking they looked odd, dated, throwback perhaps. Down 17-8 at the half and having slipped their way through much of it the players were more willing to look for any advantage and any chance of traction they could find.
A connoisseur of the right footwear for the right occasion Webb noted “They’re great for wet turf, or snow on the turf, compared to your regular, dry, field turf shoes. We’ve won Grey Cups with these exact same shoes on grass and now on field turf.” (see cfl.ca) Having finally listened to the man in the know and changed into the new shoes the Argos took the second half 19-7 and took home the prize.
If they knew their football history then they might just have listened a little sooner. The 1934 NFL championship would have provided a good object lesson. In it the underdog 8-5 New York Giants upset the heavily favoured 13-0 Chicago Bears and it was down to footwear in icy conditions. With both teams struggling to gain footing on a slick field the Bears built a 13-3 halftime lead. Then the Giants unleashed a surprise – they manged to get basketball sneakers onto their ends and backfield players. With better traction the Giants took the second half 27-0, and won 30-13 overall in a major upset.
The underdog beating the favourite in wintry conditions because of the traction their footwear gave? It may be known as the snow globe game but it could just have easily been Sneakers Game II. The lessons of history are clear for all future aspiring champions – listen to your equipment people!
Image from thescore.com