The Tiger-Cats recently made a Facebook post with a photo of a Bombers-Cats Grey Cup from the late 50s or early 60s. Featured in this photo are hashmarks placed perhaps 15 yards from the sideline. I seem to recall the hashmarks being this far out when having watched footage from the 1972 Grey Cup in Hamilton.

As long as I’ve been watching Canadian football the hashmarks have been set 24 yards inwards from each sideline as they are today. I believe they are the same distance as the hashmarks are from the sidelines in the NFL hence the narrower hashmarks on that narrower field. It also means the boundary side of play in Canadian football features essentially the same geometry and space available as that found in the NFL.

Does anyone know when the hashmarks were narrowed in the CFL and why?

What impact did this narrowing have on the game and how its played?

Is there any benefit to perhaps widening the hashmarks again?

  • No

  • Seems to me that it made field goals easier as the angle on kicks from the hashmarks was lessened … made the “short side” a little more offensively exploitable as “player density” was reduced and the wide-side became just wide, not “never-ending”

  • might impact things short-term as offences would find means to exploit the change … but defences would soon catch-up … only “sustainable” benefit I see is perhaps fewer field goal attempts OR more missed FGs to return

…here’s a picture of old Empire Stadium in about the same era that shows the hashmarks much closer in than that pic above…maybe it was an arbitrary thing back then?

Hard to tell from that first pic just how far in the hashmarks are. Need to see the whole field or at least an angle that shows the entire width.

Hash marks were introduced to Canadian football in the late 1930’s. Prior to this, a play that terminated out of bounds was scrimmaged just inside the touch line. It often resulted in an unbalanced scrimmage (E-C-G-G-T-T-E) and limited the options to offence as plays would have to go to the wide side of the field.
At first the hash marks were 10 yards from the sideline. Here is a picture of Osborne Stadium from the 1940’s which shows this.


At some point (late 1940’s ??) the hash marks were moved to 15 yards.
In 1958, in addition to hash marks on the 5 yard intervals, lines were also to be painted at 1 yard intervals. There are pictures which show these lines for previous years so it may have been optional up until 1958.
In 1959, hash marks were moved from 15 yards to 20 yards. One of the driving factors was the sharp angle for short field goals. It was argued that teams were penalized for moving the ball too close to the goal line.
I want to say that it was the late 1970’s that the hash marks moved to the current distance of 24 yards. It is possible that there may have been another step in between at 22.5 yards.
Sorry for some of the guess work.

Very interesting !
The photo show an end zone of 5 yards ?!
Can you comment on this too ?

The field at Osborne Stadium was 100 yards between goal lines with 10 yard end zones (perhaps a yard or two deeper). There was a fence at the back of the end zones. The top of the fence makes it appear as though the end zone is only 5 yards deep. The field was 65 yards wide.

And people complain about BMO. :stuck_out_tongue:

That photo is from the 1958 Grey Cup Game which was played at Empire Stadium in Vancouver.


Arrrrggghhhh!!! No longer than an American field!


Proof positive that everything was not better in the good old days.


It was not uncommon in the 60s and prior for the convert to be scrimmaged from the end zone and kicked backwards through the goal posts into the field of play when it was too muddy to do so from the field of play itself.

Great insights.

Thank you stats junkie!

Great photo! Have never seen one of Osborne Stadium and this one was at night to boot!

Pardon here where I am off a year or a yard or so, for I don’t have the chance to fact check as I post like when on a laptop.

If there happen to be any old rugby players here who go back to the 1970s or earlier, please share!

I’m not sure if this original dimension of 15 yards from the line of scrimmage in gridiron football was inspired by rugby union, for in rugby I do believe it was 10 yards for throw-ins into a “line-out” after the ball went into touch (i.e. out of bounds) until sometime in the 1970s, when rugby converted to metric and set the distance at 10 meters where it remains today.

The same concept was at hand for a better re-start of play in gridiron and rugby as opposed to scrummage merely one yard in from the touch line as in old gridiron football and rugby.

The terms weak side and strong side remain in both games.

The dimension of 15 yards remained in American amateur football until some time in the 1980s. You’ll see it in footage of NCAA football games of the 1970s as well as other oddities such as receivers with a hand on the ground at the line of scrimmage and now archaic names for positions.

In American football, the NFL (and perhaps AFL) I do think changed its hashmarks far sooner perhaps by the 1970s, but I’m not sure if it was also before they moved the goal posts to the rear of the end zone in the NFL in 1973 or 1974.

FWIW the goal posts in American football however remain in their original position, just as in Canadian football and in rugby, at most levels of youth football below high school. Some fields have the exact same posts as in rugby (or 1950s pro football) instead of the modern giant tuning fork too.

Here’s an overdue rule change, borrowing from rugby, which remedies any undue short angle for teams have to kick from the less desirable hash mark.

A team need not kick merely 7 or 8 yards from the line of scrimmage.

Kick from farther back if the angle bothers your kicker.

In the good very old days some guys would just drop kick it. Maybe the holder had a few too many the night before? Or was it the kicker?

I don’t think anybody here goes back quite that far.

Uh …this is a great imagination I give you that…or you are serious?

In rugby, a ball striking a post in the run of play remains a live ball. I do wonder when that changed in gridiron ball though.

I’m serious.

Angelo Mosca cites this in his autobiography when describing when he first joined the league.

Back then there were no 2 point converts and likewise no defensive scoring on converts so it was a function of completing the field goal or not. So it didn’t matter if the convert was scrimmaged from the field of play or an equidistant point from the goal posts in the end zone.

I seem to recall doing the convert this way when I played minor football on a muddy field as well.

Here is a newspaper story about kicking the convert from the end zone - adopted by the IRFU in October 1956. The main reason was to prevent the loss of footballs.


Now that’s interesting.

Okay confession time for me but anybody else?

Different sport different tale but I once made off with a top pro soccer ball, but has anyone here ever gotten away with a football at some point in perhaps different times long in the past in life?