I was wondering, as a die hard Eskimo fan, but only born in 1992, what it was like watching the Eskimos win 5 Grey Cups in a row to anyone who was around to witness it? I am interested to hear from Eskimo fans and non Eskimo fans alike. What was the general atmosphere of the league back then? Was it as automatic that they won all 5 in a row as I think it was? etc, etc... As I can see, the disdain towards the "Evil Empire" still runs through a lot of threads from our domination as a Football club and I've been told to be proud of it by non Eskimo fans.
The tough part was that because the their success over the five years I think it actually turned off quite a few fans, mainly out of boredom. It was great for Edmonton, but not so great for the rest of the league. I wouldn't say it was quite "automatic", there were some close Grey Cup games, but there's no doubt they were dominating.
The greatest team in CFL history and it was a great ride that likely will never be repeated. Not only was the team great but the atmosphere in Commonwealth stadium was fantastic as well. We had seasons tickets through the entire run and became friends with those who sat by us in the Stadium. I will not see the like of it again in my lifetime. The distain you talk about is simply jealousy fired at the greatest team and the greatest fans the CFL has known.
I looked online to look at the average attendances during the Grey Cup run, and the peak was in 1982 with an average attendance of over 57,000 people per game. That is unreal, I couldnt imagine that nowadays. However I remember ive been to 3 games in my life where the attendance went over 60,000 in one game. It happened in 2002 (61,481), 2003 (62,444), and 2009 (62,517). I believe two of those games were against Calgary and I think one against Saskatchewan. Now that was a real Football atmosphere. But to have that every single game like in 1982 would be jaw dropping. Even when Commonwealth has 37,000 fans at a game, it is a fantastic atmosphere that I am lucky to be apart of. Ive been to multiple Labour Day Classics in Calgary (hate the stadium, its a dump, next on list to reno) but good atmosphere, and went to the home opening in BC with their new stadium with my dad which brought in 50,000 fans, BC has an incredible stadium, although the atmosphere isnt as good as a game at Commonwealth in my opinion.
It was a perfect storm for the Esks. Brand new stadium, had the commonwealth games and the city celebrated in 78 and grew up in a way. 60000 there all the time for football after that. Hugh Campbell won the town over. Tom Wilkinson was the perfect fit. Then Warren Moon. But the real magic was they had so much cash and were superbly managed and coached.. Sold well over twice as many tix than most. No salary cap. They were really good. And they owned the town, did a lot of community events and partied hard and the media was right along with them.. Most lived there year round. The often heard "the Eskimo Way" comes from that era. I have no idea how many of the players from that era are in the HOF 12-15 I bet.
The five in a row coupled with the Blue Jays first game in 77 is kind of what made the CFL seem to be a minor league in Eastern Canada. The Argos were big news before the five in a row run, and despite winning the Cup in 83 were seen as minor league. The drop in Montreal was even larger. The Als averaged 59500 in 77 and by 82 the team was toast and replaced averaging 17K and then eventally folding for 8 years. The Ticats and Black Riders faired poorly too. Obviously there were other factors, but having one team win every year must of been boring (not that I remember)
Unlike today, back then teams had consistency in their rosters. Very little turnover year to year. The Esks were a great team to win 5 in a row, but it did get boring for the rest of the country. No denying how good they were.
The Eskimos of that era pretty much played by themselves just like the Habs of the 70's. Fun to watch if your a fan but pretty damaging to their league. No coincidence that both the CFL and NHL have been much more stable since.
I was at that "78" Grey Cup that started the streak,little did I realize that at the time,that the Esks would win the next 4 cups after that.As for the streak,as a Cat fan,I can remember the jubilation of the team appearing in their 1rst cup appearance since "72" only to be totally humiliated when the Esks ran up the score and destroyed my Cats 48-10 in the "80" Cup.I figured my team would gain revenge on the Esks in "81",but the Cats were upset in the Eastern Final by an Ottawa team that had no business even being in the play-offs and with a putrid record of 5-11 went on to represent the East against an Eskimo squad whose season record was 14-1-1.As you could imagine,the Esks were huge favourites in the game(26 pts favs)anyway amazin gly the upstart Riders led 20-1 at the half,and everybody was thinking the upset of the century is on.The Esks slowly chipped away at the lead and thanks to a bogus call on the Riders Tony Gabriel ended up winning the Cup on a last second field goal for their 4th in a row.I still think to this day,that even though the Riders had no business being in the Cup,that they got jobbed out of it,and the streak should've ended at 3 in a row.It was almost like the "fix" was in and the league didn't want the embarrassment of a 5-11 team beating a 14-1-1 team in the Grey Cup.Ironically in that "81"season I witnessed one of the best games I've ever been to when the Esks and Cats battled to a thrilling 34-34 tie at Ivor Wynne.I can also recall that in that 5 year stretch(78-82)that the Cats never won a game against the Eskimos,it seemed like Edmonton would totally destroy us or we would lose in the last minute every time we played them,as a fan of any other team in the league,it was easy to hate the Esks because they were so dominant and powerful and you just knew that whenever you played them chances were good that your team would lose another game.
Ti-Cats vs Eskimos (78-82)
1980....at Grey Cup........Eskimos-48...Cats-10.(-38)
1981....at Edmonton......Eskimos-41....Cats-5. (-36)
Hugh Campbell had the magic touch and seemed to assemble all-stars and future HOF'ers at every position during the Esks 1978-1982 dynasty era.
Many notable players such as Warren Moon, Tom Wilkinson, Brian Kelly, Dave Fennell, Ron Estay, Dan Kepley, Dave Cutler, Tom Scott, Larry Highbaugh, George McGowan, Brian Fryer, Jim Germany, Joe Hollimon, Hank Ilesic, Waddell Smith, Dale Potter, Leo Blanchard, Dave Boone, Marco Cyncar, Neil Lumsden, James Parker, Tom Towns, Hector Pothier, Danny Bass, Dan Kearns, Ed Jones, and Bill Stevenson composed a great nucleus of talent that stayed fairly intact throughout the consecutive 5 Cup win streak and beyond hard pressed to match again.
since this was also before my time, was it that way with the NHL when they went:
Montreal: 1976-79, 1986
N.Y. Islanders: 1980-83
Edmonton: 1984-85, 1987-88, 1990
Removing the Flames in '89, 4 teams won the title in 15 years.
Had staples and ice not been an issue might even have been six straight.
A more appropriate comparison would be the Habs of the 50's when they won 5 championships in a row. I am old enough to have seen the Rocket and have played against Henri while Maurice was the referee in a charity game. I have never been a Canadien's fan but it was a highlight of my life meeting the Richards. True gentlemen. I have heard people say that the Rocket was aloof but I strongly disagree, I really felt that he was genuinely shy and some people misread him. It must have been truly electric in the forum at that time.
Other teams in CFL history had impressive 5 yr runs as well,but none of them matched the 5 in a row of the Esks.The Bombers won 4 Cups in 5 years,the Cats won 3 in 5 years and the Eskimos themselves won 3 in a row in the 50's.If you want to go one step further the Eskimos actually won 6 Cups in an 8 yr span from "75 to 82" losing in the "77" game and missing the Cup in "76" being the only blemishes in that time frame.
Grey Cup Dynasty Runs
Hearing all these stories reinforces my pride in being an Eskimo fan, hopefully it'll be reinforced even more so when we make the playoffs this year! :thup:
I do not recall a bed call on Tony Gabriel, I do recall the EE,s shutting down the RR,s offence in the second half.
The EE,s in that era set the Bar, and are the reason I believe the CFL can compete with the NFL.
It was a long time ago that "81" Cup,maybe I'm thinking of another game,but I seem to recall late in the game a pass to Gabriel that everybody thought was PI against the Esks,but the refs threw the flag on Gabriel instead and called it Offensive PI. I seem to recall that replays of the play clearly showed that it should have been called against the Esks instead.Like I said maybe I'm thinking of another game and not the Grey Cup,perhaps someone else can recall and possibly post if I'm right or mistaken.Either way that was the closest the Esks came to losing a Cup in the streak,and was ironically the last time that a team from Ottawa played in a Cup game.Just to let you know how dominant that Eskimo team was in that 5 yr stretch,here are their regular season W/L/T records from 78-82 listed below.Also if memory serves me correct I recall that the Esks started out the "82"season with a 3-5 record after 8 games and everybody was talking how the dynasty could be finally over,the Esks proceeded to reel off 8 straight wins and went undefeated the rest of the way capturing their 5th cup in a row in the rain and sleet at CNE stadium against the hometown Argonauts.
no love for dunigan??
Dunigan was never a part of the dynasty era,his 1rst season was in "83" the year after the streak ended.He did though play in two Grey Cups as an Eskimo,losing to Hamilton in "86" and winning in "87" against the Argos.
of course. silly me. too many birthdays I think. sigh
as for the esk of that day. I used to always cheer for the west team in the cup, so I think I cheered for them in their first two or three cups, but then I got tired of them. As for best ever, I would argue that. I think it had something to do with the level of completion. I think they were one of the top 3 or 5 teams ever, but I would argue that Doug Fluties Argos were the best. Who knows how many more they would have won if he had stayed with them.
However, there is not arguing that the 5 in a row was any less than a great accomplishment.
I would be happy if the Canucks would get 1 in a row.