There's the Grey Cup -- and there's the Grey Cup.
It turns out that the Grey Cup that broke in two after Sunday's CFL championship game was not the only Grey Cup trophy in existence.
While one was being broken in Winnipeg, then being repaired, then travelling to Vancouver with the B.C. Lions in the hours after the game, the other was safely and quietly being stored out of public view at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Hamilton.
The second trophy hasn't quite been a secret, but Grey Cup stewards haven't publicized its existence before this week. Both versions of the trophy are hybrids of original and replica parts, as Hall of Fame management committee chairman Bill Tidball explained after returning from Winnipeg this week.
There are two components of the Grey Cup trophy: the cup itself, and the base that bears the engraved names of the players and teams that have won it. The cup of the trophy, a solid silver creation donated by Governor-General Earl Grey in 1909, is at the Hall of Fame. While it belongs to the Canadian Football League, the hall of fame keeps it in trust.
"We're trustees of a museum, and there's an artifact there that's 100 years old, and we can't let that out of our control," said Tidball, a Hamilton lawyer. "It's very, very brittle."
Due to its historic value and its fragility, it stays at the hall behind glass, except for one week every year --the week following the Grey Cup game. For that week it goes into storage so the other cup can take centre stage at parades and other post-game appearances. That cup goes with a copy of the latest base.
The league quietly commissioned a replica base last year, just in case something irreparable ever happens to the other version of the trophy. The replica base has never travelled and is in pristine condition, like a newly minted coin.
The travelling trophy features an exact replica of the cup, believed to have been created in the early 1970s. It is so true to the original that it is just as brittle, which helps explain the long string of problems that have befallen it over the years. The bottom of that trophy is in fact the original version of the 1987 base that the Hall of Fame had created after the previous two bases were filled and retired