Friday, 22 May 2015

The Shirt Off Your Back

One of the areas of CFL collecting that I decided not to produce a guide for was clothing and game equipment. While collecting game used football jerseys and game used football equipment, especially vintage pieces from the earlier part of the last century, has a strong following (respectively size reduced for Canadian versus American football), I did not think that this sort of material lent itself well to the types of guides that the Collecting Canadian Football series would become. As well, league and team branded fan apparel is produced in such huge amounts and varieties that cataloging it would also be next to impossible for the modern era and information on vintage branded clothing is hard to come by (yet still quite interesting).

But one area of relative interest that deserves some space in this blog is player themed t-shirts from CFL teams that have been produced somewhat sparingly over the decades, probably no earlier than the seventies and up into the current day era. The shirts above look like Joe Theismann (but not identified as such) from the early seventies Argos and Terry Metcalf from the late seventies Argos.

Above are two Rocket Ismail themed t-shirts from the early nineties Argos. As I looked through my image archives to find these pictures it became apparent that the majority of shirts that I have pictures of were issued by the Toronto Argonauts.

The B.C. Lions have gotten into the act although the Andrew Harris shirt above might have been an independent creation as no team logos or affiliation are seen on the shirt. The Matt Dunigan shirt looks like it came during his time in B.C. but again no league or team affiliation is illustrated. There was another very cheesy pinup style of Matt Dunigan t-shirt produced in the eighties, probably during his Edmonton days but I have mislaid the picture file. I seem to recall possibly having seen a Gizmo Williams shirt at some point as well but also cannot verify with an image.

Above is Argos shirt featuring Mike "Pinball" Clemons which probably dates to the early 2000's based on the style of graphic design. Sometimes more than one player is featured on a shirt, such as this Winnipeg Blue Bombers offering which is very reminiscent of the type of themed group player posters that the team produced throughout most of the nineties (and were catalogued in Collecting Canadian Football Volume 2).

Above left is another case where the player is not explicitly identified but it is Eskimo quarterback Tom Wilkinson on a 5 in a row dynasty era garment. Above right B.C. Lions coach Mike Benevides models a Wally Buono commemorative shirt which was part of the team's fan souvenir giveaway promotional series in 2012.  

Finally the Baltimore Stallions got into the act with at least two shirts for which I have only very poor images, but one is quarterback Tracy Ham and one is running back Mike Pringle so no lack of Hall of Fame star power there. Probably the unfamiliarity of the franchise led the team to try and promote the new players more vigorously in the new market.

Finding good quality vintage player shirts is not easy as the shirts were meant to be worn and they are commonly found sweated in, frayed, shrunken and faded from use. The older the shirt the less likely it will have withstood the ravages of time. If you have any information or pictures of other CFL player themed shirts you have seen (or still have in your closet) I am always interested in hearing about them.

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