25 November 2012

This Year? Bust

Grey Cup or Bust
Tony Allan
Winnipeg: Stovel-Advocate, 1954


  1. What a delightful post.

    Of course, before 1955 the Grey Cup wasn't necessarily an East vs West game: because there were three conferences the Western teams (the five western-most teams of the modern CFL) often had to beat one of the teams in the Ontario Football Union to advance to the Grey Cup (the Sarnia Imperials, Toronto Balmy Balmy Beach, the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen, the Windsor Royals, etc.).

    After 1940, (the last time Sarnia played for the cup), the West getting into the Grey Cup was never again in question, and 1954, the year of said book, was the last year the Ontario conference teams challenged for the cup. But these were still lean years for Western teams, coming up against the powerhouse Toronto Argos of the 40's, who won five Grey Cups in '45-'54 decade.

    Incidentally, there's rather a lot of football talk in Rilla of Ingleside, and God's Sparrows has a scene at a pre-war Hamilton Tigers game.

    "Uncle Charles took him to his first football game. "Now," said Uncle Charles, "the object of the game is to batter the other side until they lie down and let you put the ball behind the goal post. We are cheering for the Tigers. They have yellow and black stockings; and mind you make a lot of noise. Enjoy yourself and, well --don't ask me too many questions." Uncle Charles cocked his hat at a jauntier angle and sucked in his breath in excitement; it was impossible to be with him and not have fun. Child: pp. 18-19."

    Less literary but still fun is from "Apres la Guerre" (1925), a collection of poems by Captain John George McKay, who was in the 2nd Canadian Division during WWI.


    Padded trousers, cleated boots,
    Numerous kicks and sundry shoots,
    Panting breath and vacant stare,
    Blackened eyes and tangled hair,
    Fractured ribs and twisted spine,
    Language quaint, but not divine,
    Fingers minus outer skin,
    Broken nose and battered shin,
    Eyes that tell of shifty looks
    Of a long-lost love for books,
    Marks at zero, credit gone, --
    While the football season's on!


    1. Thanks for all this, James. Wonderful stuff. I didn't know of the presence of football in Rilla of Ingleside. God's Sparrows is, as you might imagine, a favourite... and now you've set me off on a hunt for Apres la Guerre.

      As silly as it seems, I can't help but think of John Glassco whenever I see mention of the Hamilton Tigers. A cousin, E.S. "Bonnie" Glassco (of the Hamilton Glasscos), was one of its earliest star players.