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Winnipegs

Episode No. 120

The CFL, Canadian Football League, launches its 2022 campaign on Thursday, June 9 when the Calgary Stampeders host the Montreal Alouettes. On Friday, June 10 the Winnipeg Blue Bombers start their journey to try and win a third-straight Grey Cup when they host the Ottawa Redblacks. Winnipeg has quite the history. They were the first western-based team to win the Cup when they topped Hamilton 18-12 in 1935. The road to the championship was an interesting one for the “Winnipegs”. Yes, they were only known as the Winnipegs during their first few years of play. The Winnipegs were a decent team, but not a very strong team. To turn their fortunes around, and to become a stronger championship-contending team, the Winnipegs looked to the Lower-48 for help. They found it. Today, I’m not so sure the way the Winnipegs put their team together would be greatly appreciated. The Winnipegs were dominated by an American presence in the form of stars like Bob Fritz, Bert Oja, Joe Perpich, Bud Marquardt, Herb Peschel and others. These stars who learned the game playing for teams like North Dakota State, St. Bonaventure and Concordia College led the Winnipegs to an 11-0 record in 1935. They outscored the opposition 228-43 and posted four shutouts. On this edition of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes, I take a look back at this remarkable team with R.C. Christiansen, author of the book, “Border Boys: How Americans from Border Colleges Helped Western Canada to Win a Football Championship”.

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