Wednesday, 27 February 2019

WTF? - Head Scratching Canadian Football Collectibles

There is no shortage of weird and sometimes wonderful Canadian football collectibles that run the gamut from "somewhat unusual" to "what possible reason was there to produce this?". This blog post will examine a random selection of these curious items.






First up are two circa 1910 Queen's University Rugby-Football postcards (as seen on ebay, obviously). What struck me as somewhat unusual (or at least unique with regards to Canadian football) about the card on the left was the Gaelic chorus of the School song called "Queen's College Colours", which translates to "The college of the wife of the King forever" and ending three times with the Gaelic war-cry "No Surrender". Apparently still sung after every Queen's touchdown today. Also notable is the incredible bruising menace exuded by the cherubic Queen's student athlete ...  shudder.  






The above two cloth patches designed to be sewn onto a garment were discovered with a group of other, definitely CFL, memorabilia and look to be of late 1940's vintage. The very curious thing about the patch on the right is the inclusion of the American flag along with what looks like some version of the pre-1965 Canadian (or maybe Ontario?) flag and the Big-Four notation.

But the Big-Four (or Eastern I.R.F.U. Interprovincial Rugby Football Union) never had anything to do with American teams so that is pretty weird. It occurred to me that the left patch resembled something I had seen on an old O.R.F.U. (Eastern Ontario Rugby Football Union) program, and the O.R.F.U. did have some American teams, but not during this time period. 






So the tilted ball and the Indian head logo are reminiscent of the team patch, but not particularly conclusive. The Toronto Indians began play in the O.R.F.U as the Toronto Oakwood (a Toronto neighborhood) Indians in 1941 & 1942, dropped the Oakwood from 1943 to 1947, merged with Toronto Balmy Beach to form Toronto Beaches-Indians in 1948 and then Beaches reverted to Toronto Balmy Beach in 1949. So maybe that was the end of the Indians, or maybe not.

About that same time period we have an amateur program from the Canadian American Football League of 1949, and I have never seen anything else regarding this league anywhere (some things are not even discernible with google!). Is it possible that the remnants of the Indians actually continued play as an amateur team in this cross border league? That would fit the patches above and the dual flag motif, but where would the Big-Four fit into that scenario? Its a mystery.     






Well there isn't anything that I can think of that does not absolutely scream the B.C. Lions Football Club more so than "Chimp The Musical Mascot" wind-up symbol crashing monkey. Era? : Late 1950's probably - Why? : unanswerable.  If you've seen Toy Story 3 you know that these monkey toys were generally seen as malevolent although this fellow looks a lot friendlier in person than the monkey on the box. His body is also a fair bit more gopher like than actual monkey, but so long as he's a Lions fan I guess that's OK.







Some enterprising Prince George civic businessmen probably decided to commemorate the 1958 Grey Cup Parade with these wood token dollars even though the parade and the game were held over 300 miles away in Vancouver. Apparently there is so much excess white spruce there that wooden trade dollars were made in many different years with different themes. Be careful not to trip and fall into that Rocky Mountain Trench though. If anything it showed the nation wide scope of the game in those days, the excitement wasn't just limited to the big cities that had the franchises.








Now here is something unique that most dedicated Ti-Cat fans would probably want to have in their collection. The Shittley Award was an (obviously) unofficial player award given to the team's biggest Shit beginning in 1958 and running for at least 6 years after that. The award was an enameled chamber pot with the winner getting his own version (with his nicknames on the reverse side) for the specific year, plus a handled version that recorded the annual winners for posterity.

While this was a joke for the players in the Tiger-Cat locker room during an era when they dominated the Eastern Division, this type of one of a kind memorabilia with direct provenance to the players themselves is not something you can come across every day. And keep in mind that four of the six biggest Shits were actually Hall of Fame caliber Shits too. Delightful.       








CHUM was a Top 40 radio station in Toronto (still exists today) and like many radio stations they printed a weekly folding pamphlet with a theme on the cover and the Top 40 songs and other advertisements on the insides and back cover. For some reason in September 1965 they were very concerned with what looked like a potential purchase of the Argos by a new owner, whom they do not identify but presumably he was something of a tightwad to have been branded Scrooge.

The item on the left came up on ebay but there is not one shred of information on the rest of the pamphlet panels about why this is on the cover. A little research led me to a site replicating all of the CHUM pamphlets where it became evident that there were a number of them with a CFL theme (Dave Johnson was a station DJ, not a football player). Now a quick glance at some of my reference material did not uncover any attempted or completed purchase of the Argos during this time period (John Bassett Sr. being the owner) so what these were all about is anybody's guess. Cool though.









One of the best known "WTF" items produced for the CFL was the Wilkinson Sword commemorative CFL actual plated steel sword, issued in the early 1970's. Why an English Sword manufacturer (who admittedly were in the habit of making special commemorative swords) was chosen to create a precision crafted, serial numbered ceremonial weapon with the CFL franchise logos engraved upon it for the league, is something of an enigma.

It is believed that somewhere around 300 of the swords were made, and I had heard that perhaps Calgary's GM Rogers Lehew had a hand in getting the project executed (although I can't confirm that). In any case the swords are scarce, make an impressive centerpiece of an advanced CFL collection and are very pricey these days. I don't know what they cost when issued but if you care to drop over $2,500 Canadian the one pictured above is on ebay right now.  .   







When it comes to the CFL bookshelf the books shown are definitely two of the more unconventional volumes chronicling the game. Laverne Barnes was the wife of B.C. Lion Emery Barnes and her fairly well known book was an expose of the league revolving around the sex, drugs and violence that surrounded the players primarily in the sixties, I believe. The book is fairly easy to acquire although there are a number of different formats and covers (first issued in 1971) and the paperback shown above is probably one of the rarer versions.

The ominously titled Game-Day Gangsters is much more recent from 2014 and discusses the aspects of organized violence in football as well as hazing and performance enhancing drugs. It is actually available as a free PDF download too. As I have read neither of these books I can't assess their contents but they certainly address the sport from a different perspective than most authors.







Now here was an absolutely fabulous idea from 1986 : Fan - A - Grams. Why cheer or curse in the stands during a game when you could instead hold up one of these nifty signs that said it all for you? All New and officially sanctioned by the league too! how could this not be a fantastic success.

Well, I guess based on the fact that this item is about as rare as any I have ever seen from the decade of the 1980's, it probably was somewhat underwhelming in the sales department. Presumably the most common people holding up the expletive sign shown bottom right were whoever put up the money to print this turd product.









Finally with the league currently pursuing a 2.0 strategy that would see partnerships with obscure (American) football leagues in countries other than the United States, this last pair of item seems somewhat prophetic now. Who knew that in 1989 the Regina Rams Junior team were already participating in the first (& only?) Eurocanbowl against the German Champions of the European Football League. A very low resolution image of a postcard featuring the members of both teams wraps up this post.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Read All About It!

Historically when teams won the Grey Cup championship it was usually front page news for the victorious city and naturally dominated the local sports section as well. Vintage newspapers from those long ago triumphs convey the sense of exhilaration felt by the citizens but since newspapers were among the least likely publications to avoid disposal, these blaring headlines are not encountered in their original form very often.



Winnipeg Free Press - Sports Section 1935?


The above image reports on the first ever win by a western team in the Grey Cup. The Winnipeg Winnipegs defeated the Hamilton Tigers 18-12 on December 7, 1935. The date on the paper is too blurry to make out but it looks more like September than December so it may actually be a revisiting of the 1935 win in a subsequent year.



Calgary Herald - Saturday November 27, 1948 &
Toronto Telegram - Saturday November 26, 1949


During this era the Grey Cup was always played on a Saturday, meaning that depending on where the participant city was and where the game was being played it might just be possible to get a late edition out with the final score on the same day. This was the case in 1948 when the Calgary Stampeders defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders 12-7 in Toronto.  The following season the Montreal Alouettes defeated the Calgary Stampeders 28-15, but at press deadline time in Toronto (where the game was again played) it was only possible to report the half-time score. As there were no Sunday papers in those days the final score would have to wait until the following Monday to be published.



Toronto Daily Star - Saturday November 27, 1954 &
Edmonton Journal - Saturday November 26, 1955


Of course collectors of that era could (with some difficulty) acquire front page headlines from both the city that won the cup as well as the host city. The two Edmonton Eskimo championship examples above (both times defeating the Montreal Alouettes 26-25 in 1954 and 34-19 in 1955) illustrate how the newspaper was stored would have significant effect on its condition. All newsprint contains acid that yellows and degrades the paper with exposure to air and light.



Toronto Daily Star - Saturday November 30, 1957 &
Ottawa Citizen - Special Section 1960


Sometimes whole special sections of the newspapers were produced to celebrate and dissect the grey Cup Championship that had just been so valiantly won. Above are the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 32-7 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1957 and the Ottawa Rough Riders post Grey Cup commemorative section for their 1960 win over Edmonton  16-6.



Montreal Gazette - Saturday September ?, 1964 &
Regina Leader-Post - Grey Cup Preview 1966


Other reasons to retain a section of vintage newspaper might be because of rare color photos of the players from an era where color photography was not often used while reporting CFL news. Or maybe a particularly imposing favourite player feature such as Ed McQuarters of the Saskatchewan Roughriders leading up to the 1966 Grey Cup.



Regina Leader-Post - June 19, 1971 Training Camp Roster &
Winnipeg free Press - Season Preview Section 1977


Occasionally a particular page from the newspaper was just so attractively composed it made sense to stash it away somewhere. This is the case for the 1971 Saskatchewan Roughrider's green tinted pre-season chart with logos, player silhouettes and cartoon graphical elements. The Blue Bombers were featured in collectible pre-season sections for many consecutive seasons, often by both competing city newspapers.



The Vancouver Sun (probably) - Grey Cup preview 1985 &
The (Vancouver) Province  - Grey Cup preview 1985


Of course certain Grey Cup newspaper publications such as these two above from 1985 where the B.C. Lions defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 37-24, are not particularly attractive. They would still however contain a lot of historically interesting information and therefore have some redeeming collectible value.



The Toronto Sun - November 25, 1996 &
The Calgary Sun  - November 26, 2001


Sometime prior to the onset of the nineties, led by the tabloid newspapers, Grey Cup covers were printed in full colour as illustrated by the Toronto Argonauts 43-27 win over the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders 27-19 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2001. But unless you put it away at the time they are still not that easy to come by.



The Edmonton Sun - Game Day preview 2010 &
The Vancouver Sun  - Post Game, 2011


 As other print media gradually becomes less viable and cost savings start to drive decisions we have already arrived at a point in time where no actual official game program or printed lineup sheet was produced for the 2018 Grey Cup. Therefore fans wanting a hard-copy memento of the game had to make do with game day sports sections of the Edmonton papers or next day headlines.   

Now of course all of the papers I have illustrated in this post are available for viewing on microfilm providing you live near a library that has, or can access the media and has the (typically ancient) machines to read them on. But getting a decent reproduction or digital file from the players is usually next to impossible, and of course you lose any colour that was originally part of the printed image.

Online graphic newspaper image repositories are much more convenient to use but sometimes they exist for some time and then subsequently disappear or they require paid subscription for access. 

So while actual old newspapers are hard to store and don't physically age well and the image resolution is generally crappy, they do have the magic capability of transporting the observer right back to that moment in the past when your team either stamped their name on the trophy for all time or had high hopes of doing so in the near future.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Sharesies - Canadian Football together with American Football

This post is going to examine a few of the oddball cases where CFL or Canadian football collectible items are combined with NFL or American football items on the same piece. These crossover types of ephemera were fairly rare during most of the last century and are just about extinct these days.

It would probably come as a great shock to most football fans of today to discover that at one time during the last century the CFL directly competed for individual player talent with the NFL and later the upstart AFL on a fairly even footing.


Canadian Football News
August 25, 1951 : NFL commissioner's statements on the ongoing player raiding &
April, 1956 : Detroit Lions legal action to bar Tom Dublinski from playing for the Argos 

In the wake of the full embrace of professionalism in Canadian football from 1950 onwards combined with the folding and only partial absorption of the old AAFC (All-America Football Conference) teams by the NFL in 1950, Canadian teams began to actively import top flight American players and actually competing $ for $ with the NFL. Surprisingly some of the owners of Canadian clubs were prepared to outbid (with the higher trading Canadian dollar) the NFL franchises for the services of a select few players and this spurred a series of inter-league lawsuits to address player poaching.

NFL commissioner Bert Bell is quoted in the 1951 article (from a Philadelphia Inquirer interview) expressing concern about the attempts to break player's contracts and undermine the legal structures in place but also surprisingly stating that "in time there may be such a similarity between the two games that could make a World Series of football an actuality". Ex 1953 Calgary Stampeder coach Bob Snyder would subsequently be engaged by Bell to focus on preventing the player raiding. Snyder had confided to close associates that Bell considered the loss of players to the Canadian teams as a major threat to the business.   


Street & Smith Football Yearbooks from 1954 and 1962 showing that reporting on Canadian League activities was at least important enough to rate a mention on the covers 

As early as 1953 US based football prognosticator publications were taking some notice of what went on north of the border in terms of professional football. These are interesting historical artifacts although I believe (but have not explicitly verified) that the Canadian content printed in these magazines was just reprinted from material that had already been written for Canadian preseason sport publications.



Canadian Football News
June, 1956 : Player raiding went both ways as Cardinals pursue Sam Etcheverry &
August 13, 1960 : AFL arrival on the pro football scene changes player acquisition dynamics   


From 1953 - 1959 the NFL had only twelve franchises, just 3 more than the CFL's 9 with an American population somewhere around ten times as large as Canada's. The NFL would slowly expand to 16 teams over the course of the next decade as they attempted to prevent the rival American Football League (formed in 1960 with 8 teams, expanding to 10 by 1967) from capturing too many valuable markets.

The eight new AFL franchises meant there were over 300 new jobs for players in professional football starting in 1960. And while the AFL eventually grew strong enough to challenge and then merge with the NFL, initially their rosters contained many players who were unable to crack late fifties CFL rosters. A prime example being Jack Kemp who eventually was a multiple season All-Star and two time AFL champion quarterback for the Buffalo Bills but failed to beat out rookie Joe Kapp for 2nd string QB in Calgary at the 1959 training camp.   



August 5, 1959 Toronto Argonauts vs Chicago Cardinals exhibition program &
CFN : August 20, 1960 : CFL vs NFL inequality makes further exhibitions unlikely      


So while it was clear that there were many top caliber players in the CFL during this time period, collectively the teams were less than competitive with the National  League squads as all of the NFL vs CFL exhibitions resulted in lopsided NFL wins. On the other hand the Buffalo Bills of the AFL were soundly defeated by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (and fans who were at the game indicated Hamilton coach Jim Trimble substituted 2nd stringers freely in the second half).

The most commonly seen combined CFL/ NFL or AFL collectibles from this era are the game programs themselves from the exhibition matches. They are rare but do come up for auction from time to time. Much less frequently encountered are ticket stubs from the games.


   
November 1965 Complete Sports & 1973 Sports Review Football Magazines
showing that Canadian football was still of interest to some segment of the readership 


Eventually the 1970 merger of the AFL and the NFL created a juggernaut of 26 teams that would gradually expand in influence and prominence to the point where the CFL was for the most part unable to compete economically for player services. Although the odd Heisman Trophy winner or runner-up like Johnny Rodgers or Joe Theismann would still have great success playing north of the border, at least for part of their careers.


This 1969 unique Dodge Chrysler advertising piece contained the rosters of each CFL team on rotating wheels on one side and the rosters of the pre-merger NFL teams on the other  


Despite the growing disparity in league statuses during the decade of the seventies, it appears it was the richest decade for shared collectibles. From automotive themed ephemera to instructional booklets and charity flag football games there seems to be more cross league memorabilia to collect for this time period than any other.


1971 combined CFL/NFL schedule above &
Early 70's Manpower instructional booklet below


In May of 1976 the Christian Athletes in Action organization sponsored a Flag Football game in Toronto with NFL stars versus CFL stars. Some limited google searching failed to uncover who won the game.



1976 Athletes in Action News Release and Flag Football Exhibition Game Program


Football preview magazines from Street & Smith continued to advertise the Canadian content on the cover up to 1983, although in subsequent years there was still CFL coverage inside, for how many more years is unknown. The Game Plan magazine below must be of Canadian origin since it highlights the CFL content over the NFL content and shows the Argo's Condredge Holloway on the cover.


Street & Smith 1983 Football Yearbook &
1985 Game Plan Pro Football 

As the eighties and nineties progressed the NFL became ever more dominant and powerful and the CFL (that once competed for players with the NFL), became ever more insignificant by comparison with real concerns that the league would not survive during the nineties. High level defections from American football still occurred (Rocket Ismail, Doug Flutie) but the high salaries of these stars was one reason the CFL came close to folding.



1992 Arena Super Star Holograms Display Box,
1998 Collector's Edge Jeff Garcia Red Foil Millennium Collection Variant &
NFL/CFL lapel pin

One might expect that during the trading card boom of the 90's that there would have been a fair number of cross league items produced, however this does not seem to be the case. The 1992 Arena Grey Cup hologram card was in packs in the box shown above along with NFL superstar Joe Montana and other sports hologram cards, but they did not have an NFL license so no mention of it on the packaging. The box says a CFL card in each pack, which does not seem to correlate with the number of Grey Cup Hologram cards that were available at the time (not super rare, but not one per pack either as it was the only CFL card Arena ever made).

There were a handful of crossover cards with players shown in CFL uniforms on NFL cards, but not many and the known items are written up in Collecting Canadian Football Volume II. The Jeff Garcia variation card shown above was one. Occasionally a novelty or souvenir item such as a pin was also produced. 



Combined Super Bowl XL (40th) and Grey Cup 2005 (93rd) Advertising piece 


The CFL has stabilized somewhat during this century but is still dwarfed by the American football colossus that is the NFL, so I was quite surprised to come across the advertising piece above (Canadian obviously). It promoted a contest to win tickets to both league's championship games, and features a combined graphic with the Dallas Cowboys defence lining up against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats offence. So even in this century the odd shared bit of memorabilia was occasionally produced.



Autobiographies of Cookie Gilchrist and Warren Moon 

Of course within the most accessible category of cross league items are autobiographies of great players who excelled on both side of the border. Case in point is Warren Moon, as noted on the cover he is the only player enshrined in both Hall of Fames. Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist should be in the CFL Hall of Fame (there is some dispute as to how he was passed over) and he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton for his AFL exploits as well.

There are no doubt other examples of memorabilia that references both Canadian & American football out there waiting to be discovered.



Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Random Cool New/Old Collectibles From the East

Four posts ago I covered newly discovered collectible items from the Western CFL teams, most of which were issued a long time ago and none of which were known to me at the time of the original publications of the Collecting Canadian Football Volume I & Volume II catalogues. This month I am showcasing the same for the Eastern CFL teams.


Toronto


Star Weekly comics section Toronto Argonauts Popsicle ad from June 24, 1954

First up is an unusual and rare advertising panel within the weekly comics supplement featuring Argonauts star Quarterback Norbert "Nobby" Wirkowsky promoting Popsicle products. Nobby had led the Argonauts to the 1952 Grey Cup championship and played ten seasons in the CFL for Toronto, Hamilton and Calgary. In addition to playing Wirkowski was involved in coaching at the high school, university and professional levels in Canada for almost 40 years and passed away in Mississauga in 2014.

Ephemera featuring CFL players as contracted advertising spokesmen for products is exceedingly rare (perhaps with the notable exception of content within game programs) but the profile of the Argonauts in mid 20th Century Toronto was definitely an order of magnitude different than the present day. Naturally newspaper inserts from this time period are not going to have survived very frequently so this is a piece you will not encounter anytime soon. 



Ottawa


Early-60's Ottawa Rough Rider Glass  


Next up is a fabulous and rare clear drinking glass featuring the Ottawa Rough Riders logo on one side and their star Quarterback Russ Jackson with facsimile autograph on the other. There is no information on the glass as to the issuer or product manufacturer but it may have been filled with something like a jam or a jelly as this was fairly common in those days. Whether or not this was a single and Jackson was the only player featured or there were more players available is unknown.

Exact year of issue is also unknown but that is a young looking Russ Jackson and the visible uniform profile looks to be a close match to the team's dark jerseys from just post 1960. Thanks to super collector John Henderson for allowing me to photograph this item, unfortunately the Jackson side photo came out a little blurrier than the real life image.     



Montreal


Carling O'Keefe 1983 Montreal Concordes Roster Card

The Montreal item is from the brief era of the Concordes after they had replaced the defunct Alouettes in the early eighties. This roster card (paper stock thickness is unconfirmed, but I believe this to be on card stock) highlights all of the team's coaches and players in jersey numerical order for the start of the 1983 season. The back of the card lists each player with relevant personal stats and positional depth chart.

This item was part of a promotional package for the start of the franchise's second season along with a sticker, pinbacks, media guide, season ticket brochure and several other bits and pieces. Because it was issued at the very start of the season it may actually feature the 1982 roster and coaches. The two most notable coaches were Head Coach Joe Galat and Assistant Coach Ardell Wiegandt (fresh from  running a very competitive Stampeder team assembled by Jack Gotta in the late seventies into the ground in two years).

The roster is a mixed bag of league castoffs but several stalwarts from the Alouette's glory days in the seventies remain, including Dickie Harris, Gordon Judges, Don Sweet & Glen Weir.



Hamilton


CHML 900 Mid-80's Hamilton Tiger Cats wood plaque 



This very attractive team retrospective of the Tiger-Cats was issued probably sometime in the mid eighties and features a collage of great team players from the past and likely also the present (at the time of issue). The illustration is affixed to a wood base and this particular item was numbered 68/300 so it was a limited edition. 

CHML started (or possibly re-started) broadcasting Tiger-Cat games in 1984 and for the most part I would say that those pictured were primarily former players from earlier decades (although Henry Waszczuk and Ben Zambiasi at top left were active around this time). Superstars of Hamilton and CFL football history like Bernie Faloney, Angelo Mosca, Hal Patterson, John Barrow, Garney Henley, Cookie Gilchrist, Tony Gabriel and many, many more are all depicted.

I'm guessing that the autographs (Bob Hooper was a football reporter, John Salavantis an assistant coach and Bob Bratina was a long serving play by play man and future Hamilton mayor) are real and not part of the illustration. Possibly added some years after issue. Either way a great item for a Ti-Cat fan.



Baltimore


1995 First National Bank Baltimore Stallions team picture card


Moving on to the most famous eastern representative of the mid nineties U.S. expansion teams we have (again probably on thin card stock) n uncatalogued team picture printed after the Stallions had won the 1995 Southern Division title. It is not clear if this referred to them finishing atop the division in regular season play or winning the playoffs and qualifying for the 1995 Grey Cup. But logically it would have been issued sometime before they actually won the Grey Cup.



CFL



Old Port 1978 League Schedule outside


Finally to round things out, an interesting group of ephemera that was issued in 1978 by Old Port. Old Port were wine flavoured small cigars where the flavour was infused into the plastic tips of each cigar. These were quite popular back in the seventies for teenagers learning how to smoke as a bit of a change of pace from cigarettes, the tips had a very appealing taste but of course the cigar smoke was pretty acrid. Anyway, they were regular sponsors of the league in that decade with numerous full page ads in game programs.

Until a recent Ebay auction came up, I was unaware that they also sponsored a Grey Cup quiz game with questions and answers printed on "One of a Series" of small cards.   



Old Port 1978 Grey Cup Quizzer Cards - English and French examples


The cards look to have been in English on one side and in French on the other although I don't have images of the same card both sides and the two cards shown above are not the same questions and answers. There are at least four different cards in the set, possibly more.

While the cards are not dated the fact they were included in the auction lot with the 1978 schedule makes it the most probable year of issue (although not 100% positively established). Distribution is unknown but the most likely method was one card in each pack of cigars. Another great example of oddball Canadian football collectibles surfacing in a different century than the one they were produced in.


Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Membership Has Its Privileges

One interesting area of Canadian football ephemera collecting is membership cards, many types of which were issued by all teams in some format or another. For unknown reasons it seems that the B.C. Lions might have issued the most in varying numbers and types as these seem to be a lot more prevalent than from some of the other teams. 


1954 Booster Club Card & 1955 Booster Club Card


The card at left corresponds with the first franchise year of the B.C. Lions. Initially most of the  benefits of membership in a booster club were more geared towards providing support for the team as they tried to establish themselves in the league. The 1955 edition is just the same card with the year blacked out and the new year stamped on. The differences in colour are probably partial age wear and partial scanning intensity discrepancies.




1956 Quarterback Club Card



Woodward's played an active part in promoting the Lions almost from the very start of their existence. The Quarterback Club was only open to children under 17 years of age. Special rallies were held during the season and tickets were available for purchase at a discounted rate. Holes were punched along the edges of the card for the relevant game once the tickets were bought.




1958 W.I.F.U. Football Club Card & 1959 Lions Touchdown Club Card


Adults could still support the club via membership which came with its own card and some sort of privileges as noted on the card front. These cards are known for other seasons as well. There also existed the Touchdown Club which sponsored their own periodic meetings and presumably also came with some sort of benefits. Unless some membership application forms from this era can be located exactly what the members received for their membership fees will probably remain a mystery.



1960 Quarterback Club Card & 1962 Quarterback Club Cloth Crest


Woodward's continued to sponsor the Quarterback Club for many seasons and the card design changed from time to time. The best part of becoming a member was the annual cloth crest you could sew onto your jacket. These beautiful crests actually deserve a blog post of their own, they are among the most varied, attractive and desirable Novelties & Souvenirs category of memorabilia items from the golden era of the CFL that exist for any team.




1963 Quarterback Club Season Schedule



Besides the crests a few other bits and pieces of memorabilia associated with these club memberships were produced.  The schedule above used the same design as the actual 1963 cloth crest and the super rare window decal below perhaps provided some sort of VIP parking access at Empire Stadium.



1964 Touchdown Club Decal


Designs of the Woodward's Quarterback Club cards kept evolving, some featuring bright renditions of the various Lion's logos over the years. During the 1959 and 1960 seasons Woodward's also issued some of the rarest B.C. Lions team card variants with their logo (available for pickup, probably for free. when purchasing your Quarterback Club membership). These extremely rare items are catalogued in Collecting Canadian Football Volume II. 




1966 Quarterback Club Card


1967 Quarterback Club Card


The Quarterback Club's final season was 1968 (sponsored by McDonald's) but probably soon after, fans were granted all sorts of privileges to make themselves heard via another membership card idea floated by the team.



Late 1960's Lions Right To Roar Card


Being a member of the Press brigade whether for newspaper, radio or TV was another sort of membership, which overlaps with a different sub category of ephemera, but it seemed to fit into the general theme of this blog so I have included one below.



1970 B.C. Lions Press Pass & 1978 B.C. Lions Football Club Card



Eventually membership cards came to be printed as part of the season's ticket sheets. Besides the tickets presumably there were other perks so the holders had to sign their cards. Various changes were implemented to the cards from year to year and by 1989 the original holder of these memberships had attained Sustaining Life Member status, whatever that meant.




1983 Season Ticket Identification Card & 1989 Sustaining Life Member Card



VIP cards of one sort or another were also produced in the eighties providing special access to food and beverage areas limited to members only. Stuke was of course famed former Argonaut player and executive / first coach of the Lions from 1953-55 who was instrumental in getting the franchise off the ground.  



1984 Pre-Game Lounge Pass & 1987 Stuke's Den Card


The supply of BC Lions membership cards that I have come across seems to peter out in the nineties but they were likely produced on paper for most of that decade, and subsequently probably moved to a plastic version sometime in this century. Since any modern cards are not really vintage and those accumulating in drawers in the lower mainland are probably going to remain there for some years to come it may be a while before they start to surface as collectibles.

Thanks to Vic Dougan, John Wirtanen and Keith Watson (all present or former B.C. Lions super collectors) for many of the images used in this blog post.