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.

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