Hamilton, Labour Day and Football

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Sep. 4) – How wonderfully apropos that the final Labour Day battle between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium was indeed a classic – perhaps the best of 44-such engagements involving the Canadian Football League rivals. Inexplicably, we use this term to brand sporting events well before their time – Labour Day Classic; Bridgestone Winter Classic, etc. The dictionary definition of “classic” is: of the first, or highest, quality, class or rank. How can we grant such portrayal to a football or hockey game in advance?

Monday afternoon’s Toronto-Hamilton clash, however, did earn classic distinction. Trailing by 11 points, the visitors mounted a 22-8 fourth-quarter uprising to win the match, 33-30, on a field goal by Swayze Waters with just 26 seconds left on the clock. It sent the overwhelming majority of 31,032 fans sulking to the exits on a gorgeous, late-summer day. After 84 years, Ivor Wynne Stadium (known as Civic Stadium until 1971) will soon be demolished. When we next gather for an Argonauts-Tiger-Cats Labour Day skirmish (in 2014), it will presumably take place in a new stadium on the same residential site. That appears to be the plan, anyway, as Hamilton municipal leaders squabble toward hosting the 2015 Pan American Games.      

FIELD PAGEANTRY ON MONDAY AFTERNOON PRIOR TO THE FINAL LABOUR DAY BATTLE BETWEEN TORONTO ARGONAUTS AND HAMILTON TIGER-CATS AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM.

Monday was the end of an era, collectively and personally. Between work and play, I reckon I’ve been to 15 of these pre-school football clashes – beginning on Sep. 6, 1971 – when Joe Zuger and the Tiger-Cats defeated Joe Theismann and the Argonauts, 30-17. I remember a Hamilton running back named Dave Fleming gathering in a short Zuger pitch and racing the length of the field – 108 yards, to be exact – for an early touchdown. I also remember Zuger fading back into his end-zone on a called screen-play, only to have an errant lob intercepted by cornerback Dave Raimey, who casually trotted five yards for a Toronto major. It happened right in front of me, as I was seated on the bleacher side – east end – about 15 rows from the field.   

NEWSPAPER PHOTOS I HAVE KEPT AS PART OF MY COLLECTION FROM THE 1971 TORONTO-HAMILTON LABOUR DAY MATCH AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM – FIRST ONE I ATTENDED.

I TOOK THE ABOVE PHOTOS WHILE SITTING IN BOX ‘D’ AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM ON SEP. 24, 1972 (TIGER-CATS CLOBBERED THE ARGOS, 41-14). I’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER SHARING A TRANSISTOR RADIO WITH A FELLOW NEXT TO ME, AS WE LISTENED TO BOB COLE DESCRIBE GAME 6 OF THE 1972 CANADA-RUSSIA HOCKEY SERIES FROM MOSCOW. PAUL HENDERSON SCORED THE FIRST OF HIS THREE GAME-WINNING GOALS THAT DAY.

TORONTO at HAMILTON – NOV, 5, 1972

ARGONAUTS AND TIGER-CATS WRAPPED UP THE 1972 SEASON AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM – HAMILTON PREVAILING, 26-16, TO KNOCK ITS RIVAL OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS. ARGOS COACH LEO CAHILL WAS FIRED BY OWNER JOHN BASSETT THE FOLLOWING DAY. JUST THE PREVIOUS YEAR, TORONTO HAD PLAYED CALGARY IN THE GREY CUP GAME.

NEWSPAPER ACCOUNTS FROM NOV. 6, 1972 OF THE ARGONAUTS-TIGER-CATS SEASON FINALE IN HAMILTON (PERSONAL COMMENTARY ADDED AT TOP OF PAGE, BELOW).

LEO CAHILL SAID HE KNEW IT WAS OVER AS HE STOOD IN THE END ZONE AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM (ABOVE) AFTER FINAL LOSS OF 1972. HE WAS FIRED THE NEXT DAY.

ARGONAUTS OF THE LATE-’60s AND EARLY-’70s WERE MOSTLY FUN TO WATCH – NEWSPAPER AD FOR 1971 INTRA-SQUAD GAME (TOP-LEFT); TICKET-STUB FROM 1972 (TOP-RIGHT).

1996 GREY CUP GAME

FOR MY MONEY, IT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE SPORTING EVENT IN THE HISTORY OF IVOR WYNNE STADIUM. I WAS PRIVILEGED TO COVER THE GREY CUP GAME ON NOV. 24, 1996 IN A RAGING SNOW-STORM, AS THE ARGONAUTS OUT-SCORED EDMONTON, 43-37. THE ’96 AND ’97 ARGO CLUBS WERE FAR AND AWAY THE MOST DOMINANT I’VE SEEN, LED BY QUARTERBACK DOUG FLUTIE – VOTED BEST CFL PERFORMER OF ALL-TIME. I STILL MARVEL AT THE ARGOS AND ESKIMOS COMBINING FOR 80 POINTS IN SUCH ABOMINABLE WEATHER CONDITIONS.

1996 GREY CUP LOGO IS PAINTED ON FIELD (ABOVE) AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM.

FRONT AND SPORTS COVERS OF THE TORONTO SUN (ABOVE AND BELOW) FROM NOV. 25, 1996 – A DAY AFTER THE ARGOS SNOWY  GREY CUP TRIUMPH IN HAMILTON.

      

2012 LABOUR DAY CLASSIC

I HAD MY TRUSTY NIKON WITH ME ON MONDAY IN HAMILTON, AS I ATTENDED THE FINAL LABOUR DAY CLASH BETWEEN THE ARGONAUTS AND TIGER-CATS AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM. INCREDIBLY, I WAS ABLE TO PURCHASE TICKETS IN THE TOP ROW OF THE OLD STANDS – DIRECTLY AT MID-FIELD – JUST A WEEK PRIOR TO THE MATCH. I WENT WITH MY SON, SHANE, AND WE HAD A VERY ENJOYABLE TIME. MY PHOTOS:

VIEW FROM BACK OF THE ORIGINAL GRANDSTAND AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM (ABOVE AND BELOW) – TAKEN FROM ADJACENT SOCCER FIELD.

PHALANX OF STAIRWAYS (ABOVE) LEADING TO SEATS AT IVOR WYNNE.

WIDE-ANGLE VIEW (ABOVE) FROM MY SEAT IN NEAR-EMPTY STADIUM, 45 MINUTES BEFORE GAME-TIME, AS PLAYERS BEGIN WARM-UP.

EARLY-ARRIVING FANS IN UPPER ROWS OF BLEACHER-STAND ACROSS THE FIELD.

TORONTO ARGONAUTS PREPARE (ABOVE) FOR LABOUR DAY BATTLE.

BEFORE COMING TO TORONTO, ARGOS GENERAL MANAGER JIM BARKER (ABOVE) HELD THE SAME ROLE IN CALGARY. HENRY BURRIS WAS QUARTERBACK OF THE STAMPEDERS. HERE, BARKER GREETS BURRIS (NOW WITH HAMILTON) ON FIELD DURING THE WARM-UP.

      

MORE FROM PRE-GAME WARM-UP ON MONDAY AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM.

JUST AFTER 1:05 P.M., SWAYZE WATERS OF THE ARGONAUTS (ABOVE) KICKS OFF TO BEGIN THE FINAL LABOUR DAY FOOTBALL GAME AT IVOR WYNNE.

ARGOS QUARTERBACK RICKY RAY…

VETERAN PIVOT, ACQUIRED FROM EDMONTON LAST WINTER, NEEDED A TIMELY PERFORMANCE AGAINST HAMILTON. THOUGH NOT SPECTACULAR, HE CAME THROUGH WHEN IT MATTERED – FOUR PHOTOS, BELOW, FROM FIRST QUARTER ACTION.

AMONG THE ENDEARMENTS AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM IS VIEW FROM UPPER ROWS AND PRESS BOX OF THE STELCO PLANT, 2 KM IN THE DISTANCE (ABOVE AND BELOW). PLUMES OF SMOKE AND FLAME PERIODICALLY ERUPT FROM THE STEEL-MANUFACTURING FACILITY. 

TRENCH WAR-FARE: TORONTO’S RESERVE QUARTERBACK JARIOUS JACKSON (ABOVE) IS ABOUT TO SNEAK FOR A FIRST DOWN IN SHORT-YARDAGE SITUATION; HENRY BURRIS TAKES SNAP (BELOW) BEHIND THE SURGING TI-CATS OFFENSIVE LINE.

FAMILIAR SIGHT: CHRIS WILLIAMS OF HAMILTON RUNS BACK A PUNT 82 YARDS FOR A TOUCHDOWN (ABOVE) IN THE FIRST QUARTER, CUTTING INTO THE ARGOS 7-0 LEAD. THIS ESTABLISHED A CFL SEASON RECORD OF SIX TD RETURNS.

SELL-OUT CROWD OF 31,032 WATCHED THE LABOUR DAY CLASH (ABOVE AND BELOW).

HAMILTON PUNTER JOSH BARTEL (ABOVE) AND KICKER LUCA CONGI (BELOW).

RICKY RAY AT WORK (ABOVE). TI-CAT BUNNIES AND A BELOVED PIN-SLOGAN (BELOW).

RICKY RAY LOBS PASS TO RECEIVER MIKE BRADWELL (ABOVE) LATE IN GAME.

SAFETY, CONCEDED BY BARTELL (ABOVE), BEGAN 22-POINT LAG IN FOURTH QUARTER.

AFTER GETTING TORCHED BY THE EDMONTON ESKIMOS LAST WEEK AT ROGERS CENTRE, DEFENSIVE BACK AHMAD CARROLL MADE THE PLAY-OF-THE-GAME FOR ARGOS, RETURNING A HENRY BURRIS PASS 37 YARDS FOR A TOUCHDOWN (ABOVE) WITH 6:32 LEFT ON THE CLOCK – AND FOLLOWING UP WITH A JIG (BELOW). IT PROVIDED VISITORS A 27-22 LEAD THEY EXPANDED TO 30-22 WITH A FIELD GOAL OFF A FUMBLE DEEP IN HAMILTON TERRITORY. 

BURRIS AND THE TICATS (ABOVE) ROARED BACK TO TIE THE SCORE, 30-30, WITH 2:20 LEFT.

SWAYZE WATERS KICKS DECISIVE 33-YARD FIELD GOAL (ABOVE) WITH JUST 26 SECONDS LEFT IN THE GAME – AS INDICATED (BELOW) ON STADIUM SCOREBOARD.

A THIRD-DOWN INCOMPLETION CEMENTS VICTORY FOR THE ARGOS.

EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

TWITTER: BERGER_BYTES

FACEBOOK: HOWARD BERGER [THORNHILL ON]

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.