When it comes to time Einstein was certainly on to something. It seems time really is relative, even in our everyday lives. We’ve all sat through a tedious talk at one time or another that seemed to stretch on endlessly and yet looking back wasn’t all that long. By the same token, it only seems moments since the Toronto Argonauts were upsetting the Calgary Stampeders in the 2017 Grey Cup final, delivering us a series of iconic plays and images from the ‘snow-globe game’.
Whilst they may not have lifted the trophy on that particular day, in a recent statement from the CFL, the Stamps home of Calgary was named as the host city of the 2019 Grey Cup. This means that the CFL’s big game will be in Alberta for two straight years. Edmonton are hosting this year’s championship game on November the 25th. ( http://www.nflgirluk.com/2017/06/21/high-five-the-grey-cup-returns-to-edmonton/ )
It will have been 10 years since Calgary last hosted the Grey Cup. If fans were to be treated to an ending like they saw in 2009 at McMahon Stadium, it will have been a thriller. (Although that game is not one Riders fans will remember with any affection).
Calgary has hosted the Grey Cup four times previously in 1975, 1993, 2000 and 2009. Calgary’s football stadium has seen all of these games, as having been built in 1960, it is by far the oldest in the league. In 2014 some work was done to the 35,360-seat stadium which saw the turf replaced, and a giant scoreboard installed.
The 4 games that have gone before have offered some differing performances and types of games. So let’s have a look at what Calgary has seen in the showpiece game in chronological order –
1. The 63rd Grey Cup (1975)
32,454 fans watched on as the 12-4 Edmonton Eskimos outlasted the 9-7 Montreal Alouettes by 9 points to 8. This was a cold one! The game-time temperature was -15 degrees Celsius, and a 25-kilometre-per-hour wind affected passing and kicking. Montreal coach Marv Levy spurned the chance for a FG in the 3rd quarter going for it on 3rd and 3 from inside the 10. The Als had another chance to win it at the end too but a botched snap led to a missed 19 yard FG attempt and Edmonton running out the clock. To long time watchers of the NFL it may not be a surprise to see Marv Levy as the losing coach in the season final. (Which would be unfair here really a Marv was successful in the CFL going 41-13-4 over 5 years with the Als in the regular season and 7-3 in the playoffs ultimately winning 2 Grey Cups in the process).
2. The 81st Grey Cup (1993)
The 12-6 Eskimos took on the 14-4 Blue Bombers in an all-western final. 50,035 people were on hand to see the Esks score 5 times unanswered and take a 21-0 lead only for the Bombers to pull it back to 24-20 in the fourth quarter. In the end though, this was Edmonton’s day and they won 33-23. Kicker Sean Fleming hit 6 field goals a single, and converted two TD’s to contribute 21 points to Edmonton’s cause.
3. The 88th Grey Cup (2000)
In shades of the most recent two Grey Cups it was the underdog who ran out the winner here too. However the turnaround was that this time the underdog was from the West and the favourite from the East. 43,822 people were on hand to see the 8-10 BC Lions overturn the 12-6 Montreal Alouettes by a score of 28 points to 26. Just over 4 minutes into the game and the Lions led 1-0, a score you can only see in the CFL version of the game thanks to the much loved Rouge! It was 12-10 going into the final period when the game really exploded. Both teams scored 16 points in the 4th quarter and the Als were a 2 point conversion from tying it near the end. After the folding of the Baltimore stallions, this was the first Grey Cup appearance for the reactivated Montreal Alouettes.
4. The 97th Grey Cup (2009)
This one has gone down in CFL folklore. ‘The 13th man’ is a phrase that Saskatchewan fans still shudder to hear and it’s all down to this game. Montreal Alouettes kicker Damon Duval missed a 43-yard field goal for the win, but the Roughriders were penalised for too many men on the field on the play. Duval was given a second chance and made no mistake from the 33-yard line as time ran out to give Montreal a 28-27 win. 46,020 were on hand to see 2017 Grey Cup winning coach Marc Trestman lead the 15-3 Alouettes to a 1 point victory over the 10-7-1 Saskatchewan Roughriders. It was the first time these two had met with the Grey Cup at stake and they delivered a classic. Saskatchewan dominated the game, led 17-3 at the half, and led throughout before losing on the last play of the game. Montreal outscored Saskatchewan 17-0 in the latter half of the fourth quarter, but it is the dramatic 13th man moment that allowed them to win as time expired that still resonates to this day.
Back to the present and the Stamps have been ultra competitive over recent seasons and even made the Grey Cup the past two years. However, after shock defeats to underdogs Ottawa in 2016 and Toronto in 2017 they are surely going to want to get back there and win. The idea of doing that in their own back yard next year will certainly be a motivation.
Perhaps just as important for the denizens of Edmonton this year and Calgary next will be the fact that they are hosting back to back Grey Cups. The Battle of Alberta may just spill over from the filed to a competition to see who can be the best host city. It will be interesting to see what both come up with, but either way we an be assured that CFL fans will have a great time when Grey Cup week rolls around.