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.