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  • November 25th, 2009

    Facts about the Grey Cup

    Bob Robertson

    Some illumination is required for those of you not in Canada, or those who are in Canada but don’t follow football. This is the biggest football weekend of the year coming up; The Grey Cup. It’s also known as Le Coupe Grey, and for those who are francophonally challenged, it is the official translation into French of the Grey Cup. No, not Le Coupe Gris (meaning bland two-door automobile) because the ‘Grey’ part is not Grey, the colour, but Grey the man, Earl Grey that is, Governor General of Canada and the man who donated this cup to the winner of the first Grey Cup game. Earl Grey, of course, never played football. He was too busy inventing tea.

       Now, if you’ve ever seen the Grey Cup itself, you’ve probably thought, “What on earth did Earl Grey use this for before he donated it to the winning team? Was it a two-handled beer stein, or maybe a vase for flowers? Personally, I think he donated it to the football league because it was either that or give it to Value Village.

       It’s the 100th anniversary, this year, of the annual Grey Cup game which is billed as the great East-West Canadian Classic and most of the time it has been, except one year, we had a team from Baltimore, Maryland that won the Grey Cup. No one talks about that anymore, especially in Baltimore.

       I should tell you that this year’s Grey Cup could also have been strange. You see, there are only three actual teams in ‘Eastern’ Canada, so a western team can cross-over in the play-offs and that’s what Vancouver’s BC Lions did for the ‘Eastern final’ against the Montreal Alouettes. Fortunately, the Alouettes won the game; otherwise Eastern Canada would have been represented by the most westerly city in Canada. And you think Steven Colbert thinks we’re goofy now.

       Another interesting tidbit for you is that for many years we had two teams in the CFL called the Roughriders, who actually did play each other for the Grey Cup a few times over the years and each time, strangely, the game was won by the Roughriders! The truth is; keen observers will know that to differentiate the two teams while they were on the field, the Ottawa team used two words ‘Rough Riders’, and Saskatchewan used one word ‘Roughriders’. Otherwise, we’d never have known who was leading in the game.

       As I said, the Grey Cup is 100 years old this year. The first match where the Grey Cup was awarded was in 1909. It was a game between the University of Toronto and the Parkdale Canoe Club. The U of T won the game 26-6, mostly because the Parkdale players found it hard to execute an end-around sweep from the T formation while in a canoe. The next Grey Cup game, officials insisted that all the players walk or run only, so from that day forward; players were banned from using canoes, row boats and schooners to score touchdowns.

       Finally, if you visit a Canadian home this Sunday, you will notice that Grey Cup parties abound throughout the land. The general idea is to eat so much meat, beans and salsa and consume so much alcohol while watching the match that after three hours no one in Canada can pronounce Saskatchewan. By early in the evening on Grey Cup day, that province is usually known as ‘Sashawan’.

       I hope this has been enlightening to the pigskin challenged and remember, for full coverage of the Grey Cup game and complete play-by-play, do not go to http://doublexposureradio.com/podcast.html, All you’ll hear is a very funny Canadian comedy show.

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