I realize most Ticats fans won't want to read this, but what the hell. I did a smidgen of research on this very subject for my book on the 1981-83 Argos (Bouncing Back: From National Joke to Grey Cup Champs, self-published through Lulu with very helpful assistance from The Caretaker, BTW). Here's what I wrote about it:
[i]The cry – once mournful, now utterly joyous – echoed through the stadium.
Fans of the home-town B.C. Lions began streaming out of B.C. Place Stadium seconds after Roy Dewalt’s last-ditch pass to Jacques Chapdelaine was batted down by Toronto cornerback Marcellus Greene, ending the 1983 Grey Cup game.
But the handfuls of Argo fans in scattered pockets around the stadium – players’ wives in section 19, a decent-sized group up in section 41, others here and there – weren’t ready to leave. After 31 years, there was some serious celebrating to do. And what better way to start than by uttering the two-syllable refrain that had come to embody all that was terrible and wonderful about being an Argo fan?
In musical terms a descending minor third – E-flat down to C, for instance – the Aaarrr-gooos chant seemed to have been around forever. It was a fixture at Argo games, of course, but could also be heard completely out of context, almost randomly, around Toronto. When things suddenly got quiet in Maple Leaf Gardens during an NHL game, some wag would suddenly cry out: “Aaarrr-gooos.?
While the origins of the refrain aren’t easy to pin down, one theory is that it goes back to the football team’s roots in the Argonaut Rowing Club. Certainly the double-blue colour scheme, Cambridge Blue and Oxford Blue, is a link to the great rowing traditions of those two schools in England. Apparently, spectators who lined river banks to watch the scullers compete used the same descending cadence to support their boys: Oxxx-fooorrrd, Caaame-briiidge.
Transplanted across the pond to the Boatmen of Canadian football, the chant was so ubiquitous that it was incorporated into a song, Love Them Argos, written and recorded in 1981 by Toronto musicians Tom Leighton and Bob Johnston. “A toast to the Argos – Aaarrr-gooos,? they sang.
During the darkest days of the franchise’s on-field fortunes, in 1978, ’79, ’80 and ’81, it could be a depressing sound.
“This Aaarrr-gooos thing, I took it as negative,? says slotback Paul Pearson, who joined the team in 1978.
Fullback Bob Bronk, who played a season at Queen’s University in Kingston after his rights were obtained by the Argos in 1981, says that whenever he dropped a pass that year, “I got the old ‘Aaarrr-gooos.’ They sucked, right??
Receiver Terry Greer, who came on board in 1980, says he would be out somewhere in Toronto and “out of the blue I’d hear someone yell ‘Aaarrr-gooos.’ I can’t tell you how many times you’d be on the subway going home and you’d hear that ‘Aaarrr-gooos.’
“I would get pissed off because it sounded so negative. It was like someone making a joke or a mockery. It bothered me. But in ’82 it didn’t bother me. Guys would say it the same way, the same enthusiasm, but there was something totally different about it. To me it was like a thumbs-up type of thing, whereas the year before it was a thumbs down.?
“Aaarrr-gooos? sounded even sweeter on November 27, 1983, in B.C. Place Stadium.[/i]