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.





Friday, 28 September 2018

There's Always Next Year ... So Time to Renew!

1964 Stampeder Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Front 

One of the most interesting types of team ephemera and at the same time one of the most likely to have been discarded after it served its purpose, are the season ticket renewal brochures that it looks like began to be a separate distinct item some time in the sixties for most teams. This month's post will take a look at some of the more interesting examples of these that I have come across.

The above is among the earliest I am aware of and it is always interesting to look back now and see which of the highly touted newcomers actually ended up making a difference for the team. In this case Ted Woods was serviceable for a few seasons for the Stampeders and the rest, not so much. The smoking pleasure advertisement is killer too.



1964 Stampeder Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Inside 


But the real killer here is the inside spread where almost unheard of for this time frame, full colour images of team stars were presented. These images came from a set of colour action photos that was catalogued in Collecting Canadian Football Volume II and is one of the very very few (like count them on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left over) sets that would have been shot in colour in those days. It is also one of my favorite Stampeder memorabilia pieces with four Hall of Famers (and should be five :  + Coleman).



1963 Eskimos Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Front and Back
 

Above is an even earlier Eskimo brochure with their nifty green and gold colour scheme and a rendering of their sixties football shaped parka wearing Eskimo boy mascot, which is of course an innocent cartoon which explains why it does not resemble an actual indigenous human (or as it is known by today's standards, a hate crime). Thanks to Mike Smith-Knutsen for the scans.

If you have ever collected the 1963 Multiple Issuer Potato Chip plastic caps (often referred to as Nalley's but other chip brands were prominent as well) then you will recognize some of the player images on the brochure. The surprising thing is that so many newcomers to the team (7 out of 20 caps) were included, when you might normally expect to have had a greater percentage of veterans featured in the promotion. The images on the caps were of course, colorized from the team's B&W media photos.



1965 Rough Riders Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Front and Back


The Ottawa 1965 brochure is notable for being one of the only ones that I have seen that features the opponent stars that season ticket holders could look forward to see play in the upcoming year, as well as one Rough Rider, Russ Jackson naturally. The three newcomers on the back page don't ring any bells.

Each of these images of opposing players were sourced from the relevant team's standard media photos (teams would accumulate player photos of other team's players and local newspapers would also have archives of players from many teams). Although there are two notable pictures, Bernie Faloney matches his 1963 Post Short Print White Back full length photo and Tommy Joe Coffey also matches his 1963 Post card picture.

 

1956 Blue Bomber - portion of newsletter and 1965 Blue Bomber pamphlet - Front


Initially teams would communicate their season ticket renewal information via team newsletters as shown above left, taken from one of the the Blue Bombers substantial multi-season publication "The Blue & The Gold". Eventually most teams transitioned to a standalone pamphlet, the example above right was designed to be mailed to the existing season ticket holder and presumably contained renewal information within. 

It seems to me (not always, but often) that collectibles from the sixties have slightly more oomph to them than those from the seventies. But for the remaining teams I have never seen a season ticket brochure dating from the sixties so the next best thing are some samples from the following decade.



1973 Roughriders Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Back and Front

Astre-nomical prizes were the theme of the Roughriders 1973 season ticket selling campaign. Fans were encouraged to convince other fans to sigh up for tickets and the fan that managed the most referrals would be the owner of a sweet new Pontiac Astre with other prizes consisting of colour TVs. The inside of the brochure has more contest and prize details with no player images.  Thanks to Chris Coult for the scans.



1974 Alouettes Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Inside pages

Montreal fans were encouraged to purchase season tickets with a brochure that highlighted a drawing of their ordinary superstar, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers. The other side of the folding brochure featured the same player graphic, stadium and city maps and transit information to get to the stadium. Thanks to Erle Schneidman for the scans.




1976 Argonauts Newsletter - Front and Back pages


It appears that well into the seventies both the Toronto Argonauts and the B.C. Lions were still communicating the details of their season ticket offerings via team newsletter, although the existence of these pieces of ephemera does not necessarily preclude the possible existence of specific specialized brochures for the same purpose.



1976 Lions Newsletter - Front and Back pages


As for Hamilton they are a bit of a mystery. It seems I have never come across any season ticket renewal publications for the Tiger-Cats or I just am not able to locate any in my image files maybe. They must have communicated the details of their prices and seat availability to their fans over the years, but it is not known in what format that information was produced.



1960 O.R.F.U. London Lords Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Outside pages


There are of course some season ticket renewal pieces of ephemera floating around for teams other than the nine primary historical CFL franchises. The London Lords were established in the Ontario Rugby Football Union (O.R.F.U.) in 1956, two years after the league had stopped competing for the Grey Cup. They won the last O.R.F.U. Senior championship in 1960 and the following year they (and their league) transitioned to what became known as the intermediate level of competition.

As you might imagine there are a lot of really attractive (some less so) and unique Season Ticket renewal memorabilia items available to track down as they have been issued for decades for each team. Interestingly, this is one category of ephemera that continues to be intermittently produced on paper right up to the current digital era, sometimes still with great graphics and player images and sometimes not. Collecting the vintage ones is a real challenge because most are definitely very hard to find.


Thursday, 30 August 2018

Who Was Who Was No Easy Matter - (Volume 1 Addition)

1960 Action between Ottawa and Toronto at Exhibition Stadium

What information could be determined about the participants from the vintage CFL game action photograph above, if it was not captioned? If you are well versed in Canadian football history you could identify Ottawa from their distinctive uniform pant stripes and Toronto from their light helmets and perhaps even that the game was in Toronto because that is what the North stands at Exhibition Stadium looked like. The style of uniforms with the two bar facemasks should lead you to estimate a late fiftiess or early sixties time period. Other than that, despite the fact that the players have jersey numbers on the fronts, backs, sides and helmets, the participants are fairly anonymous because you don't have a key as to who wore what number for each team in this era.


Queen's vs Ottawa Grey Cup Semi-Final Program - November 28, 1925 


Jersey numbers appear to have been first worn in football or football derivative games in other parts of the world around 1910 with some photographic evidence of outlying earlier occurrences. I don't know exactly when numbers were adopted onto Canadian football jerseys (likely first in Ontario regionally and then rapidly adopted elsewhere) but this would be an interesting question to research for the answer. Quickly scanning some of my image archives I see that pictures of at least some of the Queen's Grey Cup Championship teams of the early twenties do not appear to be wearing numbers, but by 1925 the program above shows that the players were assigned numbers.



Ottawa game program player pictures - November 5, 1932


Using Ottawa as an example by the early thirties you could see that the player numbers were listed in the program but judging from the pictures they must have just been worn on the backs of the jerseys. A couple of years later and photographic evidence from an opponents program shows that the players had numbers on the fronts of their jerseys by then as well.


Montreal game program pictures of Ottawa players - October 20, 1934


So if you attended the game you could buy a game program to see the lineup and determine which player wore which number for your viewing appreciation. Depending on how big a fan you were you might have even memorized a few of your favorite star players numbers, or possibly even most of the team (as they had much smaller rosters in those days). But what if you did not attend the games or you lived in a region where no Canadian football team was close enough for you to travel to the stadium?



Ottawa Citizen game day story and probable lineups - September 16, 1937
Probably Late Thirties London Life Rugby for Radio Listeners guidebook  

In that case the local papers would provide you with the numerical roster and with the help of booklets like the London Life Rugby For Radio Listeners series you could follow along to the radio broadcast, although the announcer would likely have used the players names rather than their numbers more often than not while describing the play.

Sometimes a player roster was available from other sources such as the thicker cardboard combination numerical listings and season schedule for the Big Four in 1949. Unless this was part of a larger piece of ephemera then why something this meager would have rated a 10 cent charge in 1949 is a bit of a mystery.



1949 Big Four Schedule & Roster Card


Once Television became the primary medium for fans who were not in attendance to consume sporting events in the early fifties, the viewer's problem was compounded as now you could see anonymous numbered players all over the field all game long. You can read about the relationship between TV in Canada and Canadian football at this informative site.



Ottawa Citizen weekend rosters - October 22, 1954

Newspapers continued to provide the necessary links between players and their jersey numbers for the almost two decades where games were televised and players were identified only by numbers on their uniforms. Now if you weren't in a position to buy game programs you might have expected to try your luck with some different publications assuming you could get your hands on them.



1964 Ottawa Rough Rider Media Guide - roster without jersey numbers    


Media guides were chock full of information about the team and the players, unfortunately jersey numbers were not always part of the content. Media guides were also typically not available to your average fan and numbers produced were roughly consistent with those that needed to be made available to the various media outlet personnel.

Eventually some of the fan publications would start to provide rosters in pre-season guides that you could save and refer to during the game. Naturally these would tend to become somewhat inaccurate as player changes were effected over the course of the season.



1969 Sports Canada - Ottawa roster page 



Finally towards the very end of the era where players wore no nameplates on their jerseys CFL Properties realized that here was a niche they could fill with a specialized product. Beginning in 1970 the New! Official Roster Packet was advertised in some (but curiously not all?) of the local insert portions of the CFL illustrated programs.



Roster Packet Advertisement - New! for 1970 yet thousands loved it the prior year?


These are pretty rare today as perhaps not that many were produced and even fewer survived. I recently saw a near mint set for the first time on ebay from the 1970 season and snapped it up, it did not come cheap as with all the fees it came in at around $150 for the set (I offered about half the initial buy it now), but following the old adage, if you want this sort of hyper rare CFL item then buy it as soon as you see it, or forget it...



1970 Header Card and Ottawa Rough Rider Card - Schedule Side


The cards were small at 2 1/4" X 3 1/2" and were designed to be used during game times by positioning the two teams involved in the plastic holder (2 3/4" X 3 13/16") with the rosters for both teams on opposite sides. Offensive players were printed in blue with defensive players printed in red.



1970 Header Card - reverse and Ottawa Rough Rider Card - Player Roster Side


Now one of the reasons I was so interested in these roster cards was I recall having a set as a kid watching the games, however I remember them as larger than these cards and it seemed to me that my set was 1971 or later and I could have sworn that I saw a post 1970 set advertised in some CFL publication, but naturally I cannot locate it now that I need it no matter where I look. So lacking any firm proof and not willing to trust my memory that far back, at the present time only one year of these interesting curiosities is confirmed.



1970 Grey Cup game action - QB Sonny Wade and QB Jerry Keeling sporting just numbers

A quick look at the old video shows that the 1970 Grey Cup game was played in the jerseys with no names, while the same exercise for the 1971 Grey Cup game shows that putting the player names onto the jerseys had finally been adopted in the CFL at some point during that season.



1971 Grey Cup game action - QB Joe Theismann and TE Herm Harrison sporting names


So pending the confirmation of potentially a second set of roster cards, it would appear that this product had outlived its usefulness after only one or maybe two seasons at most. Once the viewer could plainly see the names associated with all those jersey numbers there was no point to the roster cards and they faded into obscurity.

I hadn't originally intended to make this post so Ottawa specific with regards to all the roster listings, but it fell into place early and then seemed logical to just stick with it to the end.