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The Grey Cup: Fun, Quirky, Cool Facts To Help The Non-Football Fan Look Smart At A Grey Cup Party
November 24, 2012
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The 100th Grey Cup game goes tomorrow in Toronto, with the hometown Argonauts taking on the Calgary Stampeders.

Of course, the Grey Cup is more than just a game - it's an event, complete with a festival, parties, and a star-studded half time show.

Plus, it's the one CFL game which brings the east and west together, and attracts casual fans and people who don't even watch football.

So, in the spirit of the big game, we've put together some fun, quirky, cool facts about the Grey Cup.

These could prove especially valuable if the game is a blowout. Or if you don't understand football, but you need something to look smart at a Grey Cup party.

• In 1909, Lord Earl Grey - the Governor General at the time - donated a trophy intended for Canada's senior amateur hockey championship. When the Allan Cup took that designation, Lord Grey gave his trophy to the amateur rugby football champion of Canada.

• The original Grey Cup was a 13-inch tall chalice made of sterling silver with the inscription "Presented by His Excellency Earl Grey for the Amateur Rugby Football Championship of Canada."

The chalice was set on top of a wood base with silver plates for each champion's name to be inscribed. The trophy cost $48 - about $1,200 by today's standards.

• The Grey Cup is not the only trophy donated for a sports championship by a Governor-General. There's also the Stanley Cup, the Vanier Cup (Canadian university football) and the Minto Cup (Canadian lacrosse).

• The first Grey Cup game was played on Sunday, December 4, 1909 at Rosedale Field in Toronto in front of 3,807 fans. The University of Toronto defeated Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club 26-6.


• From 1916-1918, there were no Grey Cup games due to the First World War.

• During the Second World War, both major football leagues at the time in Canada shut down. However, the Canadian military thought football and the Grey Cup game would boost morale so it set up military teams across the country. From 1942-44, they competed for the cup.

Air Force Teams won in 1942 and '43 (the Toronto R.C.A.F. & Hamilton Flying Wildcats) The Montreal St. H-D Navy won in 1944.

• Apparently, the Grey Cup was for the amateur football champions because professional sports were frowned upon by society's "elites" in the early part of the 20th century. It was thought that money went against the purity and essence of sport.

• In 1947, the Grey Cup is said to have survived a fire at the Toronto Argonaut Rowing Club and it's quite the tale. As the story goes, the Grey Cup was sitting on a shelf that collapsed during the fire, but the cup got caught on a nail. So, while all the other trophies were destroyed, the Grey Cup was only damaged.

the-grey-cup-fun-quirky-cool-facts-to-help-the-non-football-fan-look-smart-at-a-grey-cup-party-feature5.jpg • Before he was an award-winning journalist, the fifth estate's Bob McKeown played in the CFL for six seasons as an all-star centre with the Ottawa Rough Riders from 1972 to 1976. He won the Grey Cup in 1973.

Check out the photo. Bob is #42.


• The Grey Cup has been broken at least four times - it's been dropped, sat on, head-butted, and the chalice broke off the base.

• The Grey Cup has been stolen twice. In 1967, it was taken from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a prank. In 1969, it was stolen for real from the Ottawa Rough Riders. Thieves broke into the team's office, and held the Cup for ransom.

The CFL refused to pay, and planned to make a duplicate. After two months, Toronto police received a tip and found the Cup in a locker at the Royal York Hotel. The thieves have never been caught.

• The 1962 Grey Cup - played at the old Exhibition Stadium in Toronto - has become known as the Fog Bowl. So much fog came in off Lake Ontario, the game between Winnipeg and Hamilton had to be called off in the fourth quarter. They finished it the next day, making it the only Grey Cup game ever suspended during play.


Three Prime Ministers have performed the Grey Cup ceremonial kickoff - John Diefenbaker in 1959, Lester Pearson in 1964 and Pierre Trudeau in 1968.

• The first coast-to-coast broadcast of the Grey Cup was in 1957, and has become known for The Trip. Hamilton defensive back Ray Bawel intercepted a pass and was headed down the sideline for a touchdown.

All of a sudden, a fan tripped Bawel. It didn't affect the final outcome. But the fan got away. Turns out, his name was David Humphrey, a Toronto lawyer and future Ontario judge.

• The 97th Grey Cup is the most watched in history. On Nov. 29, 2009, at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, 6.1 million Canadian viewers tuned in. Montreal beat Saskatchewan 28-27.

To check out some of the most memorable moments in Grey Cup history, click here.

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