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FIELD of

GREEN

Memories of Saskatchewan’s Storied Stadium

A N A P P R E C I AT I O N O F M O S A I C S TA D I U M B R O U G H T T O Y O U B Y T H E R E G I N A L E A D E R - P O S T


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what’s

Stadium Stories

Mosaic Memories

10 Year by Year, Yard by Yard

9 27 28 29 31 39

A history of Mosaic Stadium

32 From Riders to Rock

Big venue; big concerts

42 Taylor Field memories stick with Gluey Hughie Campbell has fond recollections

Published by the Regina Leader-Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 1964 Park St., Regina, Sask., S4P 3G4

64 The Heroes of my second home A half-century in the stands

72 Home Runs & Hash Marks

Blue Jays twice visited stadium

76 ‘All man and a prince of a fellow’

The story behind the stadium’s name

EDITOR

STEPHEN R IPLEY MANAGING EDITOR

MAR LON MARSHALL CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

R O B VA N S T O N E I A N H A M I LT O N DESIGNER

CHRISTINE PEARCE

Weston Dressler Darian Durant Dan Farthing Glen Johnson Frank McCrystal Marc Mueller

40 41 69 71 81 82

Mike O’Donnell George Reed Craig Reynolds Dave Ridgway Jon Ryan Brendan Taman

Top 10 Games There have been many great games played in Regina’s iconic stadium. Starting on Page 45, read our picks for the Top 10.

about our writers ROB VANSTONE, the Regina Leader-Post’s sports co-ordinator and sports columnist, debuted at the newspaper 30 years ago and has closely followed the Saskatchewan Roughriders since the early 1970s. He has written two history books on the Roughriders, examining the team’s championship seasons of 1966 and 1989.

IAN HAMILTON joined the Regina Leader-Post’s sports department in 1989 and since then has extensively covered the Saskatchewan Roughriders and other sporting organizations in the readership area.

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editor’smessage

STADIUM WILL LIVE FOREVER IN OUR MEMORIES S T E PH E N R I PL EY EDITOR, REGINA LEADER-POST

I

’m sorry to say the one indelible memory I have of Taylor Field is an absolutely brutal one. It happened during that magical 1989 season when the Roughriders finally won their second Grey Cup … the first in my lifetime. Regina Leader-Post Editor Stephen Ripley. The day was Sept. 30 and the opponent was the B.C. Lions. Just like we had done As memorable as the Oct. 29 game six other times that season, a bunch of us On the next play, Dunigan snuck it in promises to be, perhaps my fondest piled into a friend’s Dodge Challenger in for a touchdown, giving the Lions an immemory of the Farewell Season will Saskatoon and sped down Highway 11 to probable 32-30 win. be the commemorative magazine Regina. I say “sped” because we got our I don’t recall what the weather was like you’re holding in your hands. usual ticket somewhere around Davidson, that day, but it certainly felt as if a giant, For several months, Field of Green if memory serves. black cloud had descended on Taylor Field has been a labour of love for sports coThe mood brightened as the game as we trudged out of the stadium after the progressed. From our seats in Section ordinator Rob Vanstone and his teamgame. Nobody would have believed this 28 — the notorious university section mates at the Leader-Post. The quality team with a mediocre 6-7 record at that of this keepsake edition is a testament on the stadium’s east side — we watched point would be hoisting the Grey Cup in not only to their work, but to the efthe home team build what looked like an eight short weeks. forts of all the writers, photographers insurmountable lead. As we say goodbye to Taylor Field this Then it all fell apart. and editors who have covered the season, I expect another, more positive, Five points behind with only five secteam throughout its long history. memory will eclipse the B.C. debacle in onds left to play, B.C. had the ball on the my mind. I won’t be in Section 28 for the sripley@postmedia.com Saskatchewan 53-yard line. As the clock final game at the old stadium, but along hit zero, Lions QB Matt Dunigan heaved a with 33,426 other fans, I’ll be somewhere desperate Hail Mary pass in the direction in the stands, watching the Riders take on of receiver David Williams at the 18-yard those same B.C. Lions. line. But rather than letting him catch the Win or lose, I’m betting that last hurrah ball, then tackling him as the clock ran at Taylor Field will replace the memory of one bitter loss 27 years ago. out, safety Glen Suitor instead collided with Williams, drawing a penalty for pass interference. Having already given the visitors one gift, the Riders then handed them another. With no time left on the clock, Our cover photo features a leather helmet worn by the Regina Roughriders’ cornerback Albert Brown was called for Eddie (Dynamite) James in the 1931 pass interference on Williams in the end Grey Cup game. The helmet is part of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Field of zone, putting the ball on Saskatchewan’s Fame’s collection. green one-yard line. DON HEA LY / R EGINA LEA DER-POST

on the cover

Memories of Saskatchewan’s Storied Stadium

an appreciation of mo s aic stadium broug ht to you by the regina le ader- po st

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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mosaicmemories

Weston Dressler catches a touchdown pass in the 2013 Grey Cup game. B RYA N S C H L O S S E R / R E G I NA L E A DE R -P O S T

(THE STADIUM) MEANS A LOT. THIS PLACE IS WHERE I GREW UP AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE. IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF MY CAREER. WESTON DRESSLER

SO MANY FOND MEMORIES FOR DRESSLER R O B VA N S T O N E

A

sk Weston Dressler for his favourite Mosaic Stadium memories and the response is expansive. “There’s so many things,” the former Saskatchewan Roughriders slotback begins. “I remember my first Labour Day game — just that atmosphere and getting to understand what the Labour Day Classic was at the stadium. “I remember the home opener against Montreal in 2010 — a double-overtime game. Winning that game the way we did was something pretty special. “Even though I didn’t get to play (due to injury), I remember the 2009 Western final (against the Calgary Stampeders). Having that type of atmosphere for a home playoff game was pretty special.

“Of course, there was the Grey Cup in 2013 and being able to win the biggest game that you can play in in this league in front of our fans at home was a very special moment.” The Roughriders’ final touchdown in the latter game — a 45-23 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats — was scored by Dressler, who hauled in an exacting scoring toss from Darian Durant in the back left corner of the south end zone. “It was nice,” Dressler says of what proved to be his final scoring connection with Durant. “The thing about it was that Doubles did a great job of just giving me an opportunity. It was not necessarily a play that was designed to go to me, but he just took a chance and said, ‘I’m going to give him a shot out there.’ “He threw just about the most perfect

ball he could have thrown, in a perfect spot. It was pretty awesome just to kind of cap the game and just to make sure that it was over for sure at that point, and to use the last few minutes to celebrate while we were still playing.” Dressler spent his first eight CFL seasons playing at the first Mosaic Stadium, which became a second home for the Bismarck, N.D., product. “(The stadium) means a lot,” Dressler says. “This place is where I grew up as a professional athlete. It was the beginning of my career. At different stages of your career, as you get older, you definitely reflect back on different things. “There are just a lot of different memories from a lot of different stages of my career. It has been pretty special to be a part of this stadium.” Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories

year by year, yard by yard

r o b va n s t o n e

10   Field of Green | october 2016


From a shared patch of scrub grass to the heart of football in Saskatchewan — some would say Canada — Rob Vanstone chronicles the history of Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field.

T

he Saskatchewan Roughriders are preparing for a monumental move from one Mosaic Stadium to another. This is the most-celebrated change of venue in the storied history of a franchise that, once upon a time, had little in the way of stability with regard to a playing surface.

1910

Consider the confused chronology of the early years. In 1910, when the Regina Rugby Club (RRC) was formed, the team played its home games at Dominion Park, which was located near the intersection of Broad Street and 7th Avenue. That facility — built in 1909 — was also used for other sports, such as baseball. Dominion Park was the site of the RRC’s first home game, played Oct. 8, 1910. That afternoon, Moose Jaw edged Regina 7-6 — the margin of victory being a missed convert. One week earlier, Regina had lost its debut game, falling 16-6 in Moose Jaw. The RRC played all four of its games against Moose Jaw that season, losing each contest. The second home game was a 13-6 loss on Oct. 23, when a reported 800 spectators turned out. u

A fly-over before the 2013 Grey Cup game. T R OY F L E E C E / R E GI NA L E A DE R -P O S T

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories

ABOVE: A Morning Leader advertisement touts the Regina Rugby Club’s first game, in 1910. RIGHT: Team photo of the 1910 Regina Rugby Club. S A S K AT C H E WA N S P OR T S H A L L OF FA M E

Regina opened the 1911 season with its first-ever victory — a 15-11 conquest of Moose Jaw at Dominion Park on Sept. 23. The cyclone of June 30, 1912 destroyed the grandstand and fences at Dominion Park, according to “Rider Pride: The Story of Canada’s Best-Loved Football Team,” a history of the team that was written by Bob Calder and Garry Andrews and published in 1984. “The Rugby Club virtually lost the only grounds for major sporting events,” wrote Calder and Andrews, who noted that city council allocated $18,000 for repairs to Dominion Park. The facility was upgraded by 1913, with bleachers being moved closer to the field. This change reduced the number of fans who stood on the sideline. According to newspaper reports of the day, Dominion Park remained the home of the RRC through the 1916 season, after which play was suspended due to the First World War.

1921

The City of Regina sold the land on the Dominion Park site to the T. Eaton Company, which tore down the sports complex and built a mail-order facility on that land. That created an issue for the RRC when play resumed in 1919. The best option at that point was to move to the exhibition grounds, on which a new grandstand (with a capacity exceeding 5,000) had just been constructed. The RRC’s field was on the infield of a horse-racing track — the very same place where the Roughriders ended up practising many years later. After playing on the exhibition grounds in 1919 and 1920, the RRC in 1921 moved to Park Hughes — part of the current Mosaic Stadium site, on a tract of land

bordered by Cameron and Retallack streets and 9th and 10th avenues. According to a report by The Morning Leader in the March 31, 1921 edition, the Regina Amateur Football League, a soccer circuit, was pushing for a “closed in arena so that admission can be charged and where only those who pay can see the match.” This was done with the hope of deriving some revenues from having a Scottish professional soccer team play in Regina. The result was a facility with bleachers and an eight-foot fence — a complex that, conveniently enough, could also be used for rugby in addition to being a popular soccer venue. The RRC scheduled four games for Park Hughes in 1921, but the weather intervened. Muddy conditions at Park Hughes and the exhibition grounds forced the RRC to play an exhibition game and two regular-season contests on the grass field at the RCMP barracks. u Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories

The Regina Roughriders play at the exhibition grounds — their last home before the move to the current site in 1936 — in the 1930s. pr ov i nc i a l a r c h i v e s of s a s k at c h e wa n, r -a 2 76 2 6

PARK HUGHES MAKES NEWS In the first game at Park Hughes, the RRC defeated the Moose Jaw Millers 31-4 on Oct. 15, 1921, when future Canadian Football Hall of Famer Brian Timmis led the Regina side with three touchdowns. It was at Park Hughes that the team’s first game with the Roughriders monicker was played. To open the 1924 season, the Regina Roughriders lost 10-0 to Saskatoon on Sept. 27. Park Hughes remained the home of the Roughriders until 1928, with the exception of one game in 1927 that was held at the exhibition grounds due to poor field conditions at the primary facility. In 1928, a new gridiron was installed on the current Mosaic Stadium site — including Park Hughes and the adjacent

14   Field of Green | october 2016

Park de Young. The latter park was on the east side. After the soccer and baseball seasons, the fence between Park Hughes and Park de Young was removed. A football field consumed considerable portions of Park Hughes and Park de Young — the same area that was eventually occupied by the playing surface at Mosaic Stadium. “The site of the field was originally purchased in 1913 by John Marshall Young,’’ Calder and Andrews explained in their ground-breaking history book. “He was active in real estate and his wife was the sister of Premier Walter Scott. “When Young purchased the land, he was hopeful that with his wife’s connection to the first premier of Saskatchewan, he could convince the government to build the Legislative Building at his

location. But meanwhile, another pioneer entrepreneur, realtor Walter Hill, convinced the Saskatchewan government to construct the Legislative Building on land he controlled at the existing site in Wascana Park — Young’s connections didn’t pay off for him. “Young was unable to develop his land closer to downtown Regina for other purposes and eventually he lost the land for taxes. Finally, Young agreed to relinquish ownership of the site to the City and did so with the understanding that it would be used as a recreational park with the name Park de Young. He chose the family name of Young and added ‘de’ in front to make it sound more exotic. “Later the City of Regina subdivided the land and created two separate adjoining parks. One was named Park Hughes for soccer and the other Park de Young for football and baseball.”


ONE OF THE BEST LAID OUT RUGBY FIELDS IN THE WEST, PARK DE YOUNG PROVIDES AMPLE SPACE, SEATS ALMOST 5,000 FANS, AND WILL BE ENLARGED AS THE YEARS GO ALONG.

The Regina Roughriders play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Park de Young in 1936. The Roughriders are wearing shoulder stripes. PR OV I NC I A L A R C H I V E S OF S A S K AT C H E WA N, R -B 13 5 49 -2

BELOW: The 1941 Regina Roughriders. R E GI NA L E A DE R -P O S T F I L E S

Excerpt from the Roughriders’ 1936 yearbook

1936

A NEW NAME: PARK DE YOUNG

Beginning in 1928, the name Park de Young applied when the Roughriders’ home field at that complex was referenced. However, Park de Young was not yet the Roughriders’ consistent home. From 1929 to 1935 — a period in which the Roughriders made five Grey Cup appearances — they once again played their home games at the exhibition grounds. That was likely done because the exhibition grandstand had a seating capacity — more than 5,000 — that was roughly twice that of Park de Young. Finally, in 1936, there was stability. The Roughriders moved back to an expanded Park de Young. “One of the best laid out rugby fields in the West, Park de Young provides ample space, seats almost 5,000 fans, and will be enlarged as the years go along,’’ read an excerpt from the Roughriders’ 1936 yearbook. The improvements also consisted of a press box that was equipped with radiobroadcast facilities. For the first time,

ushers were hired to handle the crowds that showed up for the Roughriders’ first intra-provincial games. A new era was also ushered in. For the first time, the Roughriders would have a site to call home. Nobody could have suspected at the time that the Park de Young location would be Football Central in Regina for the next 80 years.

A PERMANENT SITE IS FOUND Participating in the Western Interprovincial Football Union, the Regina Roughriders played six consecutive regular seasons at Park de Young before the Second World War necessitated a

disrupted schedule. There wasn’t any league play in 1942 or 1945 — the Roughriders formed a team for playoffs only — and the entire 1944 season was scrapped. By the time regular-season play resumed in 1946 — with the Saskatchewan Roughriders name in effect for the first time — changes to the stadium were desperately needed. The Park de Young playing surface, for starters, was abysmal. “There were some weeds growing, but that was about it,’’ Sandy Hoce, who played for the Roughriders from 1943 to 1946, told Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post in 1998. “It was like a country road.” But not for much longer. u Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories

THE GROUNDSKEEPER, WHO HAD BEEN PROVIDED WITH A RAKE, A HOE, AND A WHEELBARROW — THOUGH HE WAS FORCED TO BORROW A LAWNMOWER — HAD TO WORK MIRACLES TO PRODUCE PLAYABLE TURF. BOB CALDER AND GARRY ANDREWS, referencing the i m p r o v e m e n t s t o t h e n e w l y n a m e d Ta y l o r F i e l d at the star t of the 1947 football season

“The 1946 season dramatically underlined the poor state of the field at Park de Young,’’ Calder and Andrews wrote in their team history. “The gridiron had never had turf, and at the beginning of the summer tons of topsoil were dumped on the surface, ensuring that when dry it became a dust bowl and when wet it dissolved to a quagmire.” There were other problems ensuing from the dirt surface. “I remember they got topsoil from the sewage works and we noticed that there were all these rings in it,’’ Hoce recalled. “Turns out they were condoms that hadn’t dissolved when they were flushed down the toilet.’’ The situation worsened in October of 1946, when torrents of rain turned the dirt to mud and made it impossible for the Roughriders to play on the field. Therefore, a home game was moved to Campion College where, as Calder and Andrews wrote, “there were no facilities for collecting a gate” and “only a few hundred people bothered to show up” — with a consequent loss on that game of $3,000.

Sandy Hoce’s Roughriders jacket from 1946. PHO T O C OU R T E S Y OF D ON H A R L E

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Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

The contest, as messy and unprofitable as it was, did serve as a catalyst for progress. The Regina Recreation Board decided that the eight-acre Park de Young would be seeded in the fall of 1947 with the objective of making it an all-weather, multi-sport field. But an even bigger change was in store. On May 24, 1947, Neil Joseph (Piffles) Taylor — a former Roughriders player, coach, executive and president — died suddenly in his sleep at his home in the Drake Hotel. He was 52. The decision was soon made to rename Park de Young in his honour.

1947

TAYLOR FIELD ERA BEGINS

On Sept. 6, 1947, Taylor Field was dedicated at a ceremony that preceded the Roughriders’ home game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (who went on to win 6-5). The grass field was an improvement but, as Calder and Andrews pointed out, “the groundskeeper, who had been provided with a rake, a hoe, and a wheelbarrow — though he was forced to borrow a lawnmower — had to work miracles to produce playable turf.” There was a further upgrade to Taylor Field in 1948, when a 4,500-seat concrete grandstand was built on the west side at a cost of $47,000, increasing the stadium’s capacity to 8,700. In addition, a publicaddress system, a sprinkler system and a new scoreboard were installed. “We’re trying to give Regina a winning future on the gridiron, and they’re trying to give us a championship field,’’ then-Roughriders president Jack Rowand told Jack Koffman of the Ottawa Evening Citizen in late August of 1947. The upgrades were made in conjunction with the expansion of the regular season from eight games to 12 (six home and six away).


The B.C. Lions, left, line up for a field goal against the Roughriders at Taylor Field in 1958.

More seats were added in 1950, 1951, 1953 and 1954, raising the seating capacity to 13,083. In addition, fans were allowed to sit or stand on the sidelines. Also in 1954, the installation of floodlights, at a cost of $60,000, enabled night games to be played in Regina with greater frequency. According to research by Tom Fuzesy, the first recorded night game was on Sept. 6, 1937, versus the Calgary Bronks, but the technology at the time was pretty basic. The upgrade in 1954 was a game-changer for the Roughriders and the local economy. Part of the push behind night games

was objections voiced by downtown merchants, who felt that Saturday afternoon games hurt business. At the time, Sunday afternoon games were not played due to observance of the Sabbath. A new press box was added atop the west grandstand in 1955. The following year, covered dugouts were provided for the team. In 1958, the Roughriders lobbied the city to spend $210,000 on a permanent, concrete 7,000-seat grandstand on the east side. Acceptance of the proposal would have signalled the end of baseball games at

pr ov i nc i a l a r c h i v e s of s a s k at c h e wa n, r -b 9 5 3 3

Taylor Field. However, the City opted for a $75,000, 2,100-seat addition to the east stands, a move that preserved baseball at the stadium — which then seated 15,365. Improvements to the east-side seating began in 1965, which was the final year in which baseball was played on Taylor Field. Previously, the bleachers had been moved when necessary to accommodate baseball, which was on the site for 47 years. The pouring of concrete bumped the baseball games to Mount Pleasant Park. u Field of Green | october 2016

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stadiumstories

Construction of Taylor Field’s expanded west side in 1978. D ON H E A LY / R E G I NA L E A DE R -P O S T

1966

STADIUM CONTINUES TO SWELL

ABOVE: Ron Lancaster celebrates the Roughriders’ 1966 Grey Cup win. B R I A N K E N T / VA NC OU V E R S U N

TOP LEFT: Aerial photo of Taylor Field in the early 1960s. S A S K AT C H E WA N S P OR T S H A L L OF FA M E

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Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

The capacity swelled to 19,195 in 1966, when further additions were made to the east-side grandstand. The concrete grandstand, 55 rows high, went from the south goal line to the north 30-yard line, with bleachers filling in the space between the north goal line and the north 25-yard line. Also in 1966, Sunday afternoon football became a regular occurrence at Taylor Field. Three such dates were scheduled during what would become the Roughriders’ first championship season. “Playing under lights is nice — and necessary — but traditionalists will still tell you football was a game to be played under the warming autumn sun,’’ read an excerpt from a March 26, 1966 editorial in the Regina Leader-Post. The previous fall — on Oct. 17, 1965 —

the first Sunday home game at Taylor Field had been played, with Winnipeg winning 17-0. The new seating capacity quickly proved to be insufficient. A record crowd of 20,009 turned out for the Roughriders’ home opener in 1966. The previous record of 18,360 had been set in 1964. The Roughriders were able to eclipse the 20,000 mark by continuing to allow fans to sit on the sideline. The team had hoped to dispense with the custom due to the addition of more seats, but the demand for Roughriders football left the team with little choice but to sell sideline space in order to accommodate everyone. The voracious appetite for football reached the point where a once-unimaginable crowd of 22,954 packed the park for an Oct. 2, 1966 home date with Winnipeg. By 1972, the east grandstand had been extended to the north goal line, with 1,499 seats being added to the 21,911-seat stadium at a cost of $240,000. New lights were also installed above and behind the press box on the west side to enable Saskatchewan home games to be televised in colour.


George Reed, 34, and Clyde Brock, 67, block for Ron Lancaster in the 1960s. R E GI NA L E A DE R -P O S T F I L E S

THE NEED FOR EXPANSION In 1976, Saskatchewan set a franchise single-season, regular-season attendance record of 173,273, averaging 21,659 per game. For the first time, the Roughriders attracted at least 20,000 spectators to each of their eight regular-season games, and also welcomed 22,260 fans for the Western Conference final against the Edmonton Eskimos. The following year, the Roughriders drew 169,272 fans — an average of 21,159 per regular-season game — but the profit for 1977 was a modest $8,523. Hence the need for renovations. In December of 1977, Regina taxpayers approved funding for an 8,000-seat expansion of Taylor Field. A total of 12,859 citizens favoured the City of Regina’s expenditure on the football facility, compared to 9,005 against. Voters gave the City authorization to borrow $4 million of its $4.5-million share of the expansion plan. The provincial government provided $2.5 million and agreed to match, dollar for dollar, all funds raised by the Roughriders — who set $1 million as their own target.

[IN 1977], THE ROUGHRIDERS DREW 169,272 FANS — AN AVERAGE OF 21,159 PER REGULAR-SEASON GAME — BUT THE PROFIT FOR 1977 WAS A MODEST $8,523. HENCE THE NEED FOR RENOVATIONS.

The renovation blueprint called for the addition of an upper deck to the west grandstand and for the construction of permanent dressing-room facilities at Taylor Field — a plan that would end the long-standing tradition of the Roughriders holding workouts on the infield at Regina Exhibition Track. The team also dressed at the exhibition grounds for its CFL games, driving by bus to and from Taylor Field. The expansion — which uprooted 12 houses on Cameron Street — was to be completed in time for the 1978 season, but a construction strike delayed the finish of the project by one year. The 1978 season was played with an unoccupied, incomplete upper deck — another thing that went wrong as Saskatchewan went 4-11-1 and finished with a losing record for the first time since 1961.

1979

RIDER PRIDE IS BORN

The new and improved Taylor Field was finally completed on June 20, 1979 — with some of the turf in one of the end zones still being laid during the pre-game warmups. In addition to new seats, which expanded the seating capacity to 27,606, the stadium had a new scoreboard and, for the first time, artificial turf. There weren’t any improvements on the field, however, as the team launched a rebuilding initiative under first-year head coach Ron Lancaster — who had been the Green and White’s starting quarterback for the previous 16 seasons. After seven home games, the Roughriders were averaging 20,210 spectators, or nearly 7,000 empty seats. In an effort to improve the financial forecast and rekindle a buzz around the team, Winnipegbased media personality John Robertson — a former Leader-Post sports columnist — was the driving force behind Rider Pride Day. The objective was to pack an expanded Taylor Field for the first time. u Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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Mission accomplished. The crowd spilled on to the grass in the south end zone as a Roughriders-record 28,012 fans turned out for an Oct. 28, 1979 home game against the B.C. Lions. The Roughriders won that game, 26-12, to post their second (and final) victory of the 1979 season. “That was the beginning of Rider Pride,” Lancaster recalled in 2008. “That slogan caught on and it has been around forever.” The overflow crowd against B.C. raised an estimated $80,000 in additional funds for the Roughriders, who nonetheless lost more than $400,000 on their 1979 operations. The situation changed for the better in 1981 when, after back-to-back 2-14 seasons, the Roughriders went 9-7. The fans embraced that team, routinely congesting Taylor Field. In 1981, the Roughriders averaged 27,828 spectators — or 222 more than the seating capacity.

The explosive interest carried over into 1982, when a single-season attendance record of 224,824 (an average of 28,103) was set. Additionally, the Roughriders established a franchise record for season tickets (21,686). That would endure as a high-water mark for more than a quarter-century.

1995

A GOLD MINE OF A GAME

The Roughriders reached some attendance-related benchmarks in the 1990s. On Aug. 27, 1993, a Taylor Field-record crowd of 33,032 turned out to watch the Roughriders defeat the Sacramento Gold Miners 26-23. Sacramento was the first

American-based team to play in Taylor Field. Also in 1993, Taylor Field was chosen as the host facility for the 1995 Grey Cup game — an event that necessitated several improvements to the facility. Club seating was installed at the top of the east grandstand. As well, some club seats were added to the west grandstand, bumping the press box to the opposite side of the stadium. Most notably, temporary bleachers were added to expand the seating capacity to well over 50,000. The Roughriders took advantage of the extra seats in the latter stages of the regular season. On Oct. 14, 1995, the Roughriders defeated the Calgary Stampeders 25-20 before 55,438 spectators — the largest crowd ever to witness a home game featuring the Green and White. u

Aerial photo of Taylor Field when the 1995 Grey Cup game was held in Regina. R E GI NA L E A DE R POST FILES

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories

ABOVE: A young Roughriders fan braves chilly conditions at Taylor Field in 2004. R E GI NA L E A DE R -P O S T F I L E S

RIGHT: Roughriders quarterback Kerry Joseph gives the game ball to his mother, Gerry, after the 2007 Grey Cup victory in Toronto. D ON H E A LY / R E GI NA L E A DE R -P O S T

Another massive gathering (52,064) flocked to the stadium on Nov. 19, 1995, when the Baltimore Stallions defeated Calgary 37-20 in the Grey Cup game. Baltimore won the final CFL game to include an American-based club. The championship game returned to Regina on Nov. 16, 2003, when Edmonton defeated Montreal 34-22 before 50,909 eyewitnesses at Taylor Field. Just over a year later, the Roughriders announced a $12-million redevelopment plan that included the installation of a MaxTron video board. The MaxTron was unveiled at the 2005 regular-season opener. That blueprint also called for upgraded seating, lighting, concessions, lockerroom facilities and audio equipment. Moreover, an expansion to between 32,000 and 35,000 permanent seats was proposed, along with a two-storey structure that was to overlook the south end zone. The new building was to house the team’s offices, a more spacious Rider store and an upgraded Green and White lounge. The discussion extended to perhaps making Taylor Field accessible year-round by enclosing it with a seasonal dome — a bubble. It turned out that another, onceunimaginable, change was afoot — a new name for the aging stadium.

2006

THE MOSAIC STADIUM YEARS

On June 23, 2006, a 10-year, $4-million sponsorship deal with The Mosaic Company was announced. The agreement called for the community-owned facility to be known as Mosaic Stadium, although it was specified that the playing surface would still carry the name of Taylor Field. The family of Piffles Taylor was on hand to provide its endorsement. “(The Roughriders) have shown great sensitivity in the fact that they’ve included us,” Taylor’s granddaughter, Judith Milliken, said at a media conference. “For us, it’s a real opportunity to remember him because he was an amazing man.” The word “amazing” also applied to the groundswell of support that began in 2007, when the Kent Austin-coached,

Kerry Joseph-quarterbacked Roughriders enjoyed a torrid start and ignited a demand for tickets that had not been seen since 1982. The 2007 Roughriders ended up securing the team’s first home playoff game since 1988 and subsequently snapped a Grey Cup championship drought that had dated back to 1989. Sellouts and seven-figure profits would soon become commonplace for the Roughriders, leading to discussions about renovations to — and eventually the replacement of — the original Mosaic Stadium. Initially, the issue of a protective bubble resurfaced. Mayor Pat Fiacco announced in April of 2008 that the City had identified $5.8 million in required repairs and improvements, including the $1-million bubble that would cover the playing surface during the winter. That proposal was eventually scrapped as the discussion turned to perhaps constructing a new stadium in place of what Fiacco referred to as “an old, tired building” in 2009. u Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories

THE CURRENT STADIUM HAS SERVED US WELL, BUT IT’S TIME THE BEST FANS IN CANADA AND THE BEST TEAM IN CANADA HAVE THE BEST NEW STADIUM IN CANADA. S A S K AT C H E WA N P R E M I E R B R A D WA L L

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, left, announces in 2012 that a new, $278-million stadium is to be constructed. M IC H A E L B E L L / R E G I NA L E A DE R -P O S T

In 2010, the provincial government conducted a feasibility study regarding a possible all-weather stadium, including a retractable roof, that would be constructed on the CP rail yards. On March 1, 2011, the provincial government announced that the $431-million downtown entertainment complex was not going to proceed, citing the lack of federal-government support as the tipping point. “We will have to look at other options going forward,” provincial cabinet minister Ken Cheveldayoff said. The provincial government had applied for about $100 million from the federal government in the form of a public-private partnership. Undaunted, the City of Regina — under the leadership of Fiacco — announced the Regina Revitalization Initiative on May 27, 2011. The RRI set out plans for the redevelopment of 20 acres of land at the current Mosaic Stadium site and another 33 acres at the rail yards, located just south of Dewdney Avenue. As per the plan, the new stadium would be based downtown and the existing stadium site would be used for residential development. An amended blueprint was rolled out on May 4, 2012, with the RRI to include an open-air stadium, 700 affordable

24

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

housing units, and retail and commercial development. The new proposal also specified that a $278-million stadium would be constructed on land at cityowned Evraz Place, instead of on the rail yards. It turned out that the amount of land available on the rail yards would be insufficient to house a stadium. That announcement was a precursor to the news of July 12, 2012, when Fiacco and Premier Brad Wall appeared at Mosaic Stadium before a Roughriders regular-season game against B.C. The politicians told the crowd that a memorandum of understanding between the province, the city and the Roughriders had been signed to facilitate construction of a new Mosaic Stadium, which would open for CFL competition in 2017. The $278-million complex is to seat 33,000 spectators — roughly the same amount as the current Mosaic Stadium can accommodate after the latest renovation. The design allows for temporary seating to increase the capacity to 40,000 for big-ticket events such as Grey Cups and concerts. “The current stadium has served us well,” Wall said during the announcement of 2012, “but it’s time the best fans in Canada and the best team in Canada have the best new stadium in Canada.”

2013

THE CUP COMES HOME

The announcement was made at a stadium that had already been upgraded as part of the Grey Cup Legacy Project, which was launched with the Reginabased 2013 Grey Cup game in mind. The $14-million Legacy Project involved the construction of 7,000 end-zone seats (3,000 in the north end zone and 4,000 in the south), along with corporate seats and two LED screens. Those additions were in place in time for the 2012 season, with Phase 2 — temporary stands installed for the 2013 Grey Cup — to be completed the following year. The 101st Grey Cup game left a legacy like no other for the Roughriders. On Nov. 24, 2013, the Roughriders defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 before 44,710 generally giddy onlookers to win the final Grey Cup game that would be held at the original Mosaic Stadium. “This will never happen again,’’ thenRoughriders general manager Brendan Taman observed. The Roughriders led 31-6 at halftime before a crowd that included Hollywood stars Tom Hanks and Martin Short. Despite the marquee value in the stands, the man of the hour at game’s end was


The current exterior of Mosaic Stadium’s west side.

d on h e a ly / r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t

Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant, who held the championship trophy over his head as the green-and-white confetti flew. Amid the merriment, Roughriders president-CEO Jim Hopson could only smile and say: “I think it’s the greatest day in franchise history.” Now a landmark day of another description is imminent. On Sunday, the Roughriders will play host to the Lions in the final regular-season game at the original Mosaic Stadium. According to research by Tom Fuzesy, the game will be the 747th at the Roughriders’ traditional site. Once the

Riders and Lions kick off on Saturday, the tally will be 626 regular-season games, 44 playoff games, 74 exhibition games and three Grey Cups. The looming regular-season home finale will be an event unlike any other for Roughriders fans, the vast majority of whom will not have any recollection of watching their favourite team’s home games anywhere else. Another unforgettable day will ensue in 2017, when the Green and White moves into a gleaming new home. Only the name will remain the same. rvanstone@postmedia.com twitter.com/robvanstone

SOURCES ■■ Regina Leader-Post files, including a story headlined “Taylor Field: A football shrine,’’ by Ian Hamilton (June 30, 1998). ■■ Morning Leader files. ■■ “Rider Pride: The Story of Canada’s BestLoved Football Team,” by Bob Calder and Garry Andrews, 1984. ■■ 1936 Regina Roughriders yearbook. ■■ West Riders Best,’’ by Rob Vanstone, 2009. ■■ The Greatest Grey Cup Ever,’’ by Rob Vanstone, 2010. ■■ Research by Tom Fuzesy. Field of Green | october 2016

25


THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES! GO RIDERS!

CELEBRATING 65 YEARS OF SERVICE In the late ‘40s, Paul Altter began working for his uncle at a small BA gas station In Southey, which was a sub-dealer for Dodge and De Soto. It also carried Oliver farm equipment and other agricultural products.

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In 1951, he bought shares in the company and later, with his wife, Violet, purchased controlling interest of the company. He changed the name to Southey Motors and started his life long job of serving his community.

1951

The business has had its ups and downs, but through hard work and determination, the company has flourished. In 1954, Chrysler signed Paul to be a direct dealer. Paul worked hard and proved that a farm kid with work ethic and determination could succeed. Honesty was his policy and his customers were truly loyal and become friends as well as clients.

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From selling those old flat heads of the ‘50s, muscle cars of the ‘70s. K-cars of the ‘80s. Intrepids of the ‘90s. Caravans of the 2000s and now the popular Ram truck of the present time has marched on. Three buildings later, Paul had done it all. His sons Merv and Allan eventually joined the company and now continue the tradition. Yes, Paul still frequents the store and is considered the boys’ “senior and sometimes-not-sosilent partner.”

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mosaicmemories

I KNOW I’VE BEEN TRYING TO PUT INTO WORDS WHAT IT MEANS, BUT THERE’S REALLY NOTHING THAT CAN EXPRESS THE JOY OF WINNING THE GREY CUP ON YOUR HOME TURF.

MICH AEL B ELL / R E GINA LEAD ER -P O S T

DARIAN DURANT

DURANT SAVOURED HOME-FIELD TITLE

RO B VA N S T O N E

T

he moment is captured on a giant image that adorns the southwest corner of Mosaic Stadium. The photo shows the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Darian Durant holding the Grey Cup over his head following a 45-23 home-field victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Nov. 24, 2013. Durant, who had earlier quarterbacked the Roughriders when they suffered heartbreaking losses to the Montreal Alouettes in the 2009 and 2010 CFL championship games, threw three touchdown passes in the 2013 league final — a memory he still savours. “It’s just incredible, first and foremost,” Durant recalls. “If you look at the history of teams playing in the Grey Cup on their home field, the odds are against you. Just to overcome those odds

and being able to secure a Grey Cup berth at home, it was huge. And then you compound that with the fact that we won, there’s no better feeling. “I know I’ve been trying to put into words what it means, but there’s really nothing that can express the joy of winning the Grey Cup game on your home turf.” The Roughriders had two post-season games on friendly soil in 2013. In the West Division semifinal, Durant rallied Saskatchewan from a 25-16 fourth-quarter deficit and ultimately celebrated a 29-25 victory over the B.C. Lions. In the fourth quarter, Durant used his running ability to considerable effect and also threw a touchdown pass to Weston Dressler for the second time in the game. While asking Durant about his iconic performance in the B.C. game, there is a presumption that it is 1B on his personal list, with the 2013 Grey Cup being 1A. However, Durant has other thoughts. “I think you guys (in the media) moreso put that B.C. game up there,” Durant responds. “I was just trying to make a play. I guess just given the fact that it was the fourth quarter and we were down, it kind of seemed like I took the game over, but I would put the Montreal home opener before that B.C. game.” Durant is referencing the 2010 regular-season opener against the visiting Alouettes — a 54-51 overtime victory by Saskatchewan. “We were down double-digit points (24-10) coming into the second half and the way we exploded, just throwing the ball all over the place, that would be my 1B game,” says Durant, who threw for 481 yards and five TDs in that July 1, 2010 classic. “That B.C. game was definitely special, don’t get me wrong, but that Montreal game was something special as well.” The same description applies to the decade Durant has spent with the Roughriders, who are moving into a new Mosaic Stadium in 2017. He arrived in 2006 — the year that Taylor Field was renamed Mosaic Stadium. “When you first come up and you don’t know much about the CFL and you don’t know much about Saskatchewan, you’re not sure about the tradition,” Durant says. “You don’t know much about the past greats, the past legends. “The longer and longer I’ve been here and the more I realize what the tradition means to this province, it’s just a special place to be. It’s a special team. That ‘S’ means a lot. To me, it’s all about legacy. I have an opportunity to do something special here and that’s what I’m looking forward to.” Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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mosaicmemories

Dan Farthing scores a long touchdown in the 2000 season opener. B RYA N S C H L O S S E R / R E G I NA L E A DE R -P O S T

FARTHING TREASURES ‘AMAZING GIFT’ RO B VA N S T O N E

A

n unexpected newspaper ad added to the moment for Dan Farthing. The day after the former CFL slotback was inducted into the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Plaza of Honor in 2009, a congratulatory advertisement — purchased by Craig Lothian, Ajay Dilawri and Mitch Molnar — appeared in the Regina Leader-Post. The ad featured a photo of a teenaged Farthing walking off a snow-swept Taylor Field on Nov. 11, 1985, when he helped the Saskatoon Holy Cross Crusaders defeat the O’Neill Titans 33-17 in the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association’s 4A football final. “It was a picture that I didn’t even know existed,’’ Farthing says. “I’m getting choked up now, because it choked me up then, too. “It was one of the most amazing gifts anyone ever gave me.” Farthing’s athletic gifts were on display

28

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

in that 1985 game when, as a Grade 11 student, he made three interceptions in addition to catching a 33-yard touchdown pass and reaching the end zone on a twopoint convert. “That was the first time I ever played on the field,’’ Farthing recalls. He had previously visited Taylor Field as a spectator — often sitting in the old Rider Rookies section — but playing at the stadium was a different matter entirely. “To be able to finally get on that field and suit up and play a game on it, it was pretty special, because it was a novelty for us,’’ Farthing says. Farthing next played on Taylor Field on July 1, 1987, in the third annual Football Saskatchewan Senior Bowl — a showcase of the province’s finest graduating high school players. Once again, he was dominant, scoring three touchdowns to help the North defeat the South 35-14. He also earned

most-valuable-player honours for the North squad. By then, he had committed to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, for whom he starred for four seasons before being picked second overall by the Roughriders in the 1991 CFL draft. Farthing went on to spend 11 seasons in green and white, catching 384 passes for 5,098 yards and 19 touchdowns. One of those majors was scored Oct. 14, 1995, when the Roughriders defeated Doug Flutie and the Calgary Stampeders 25-20 before 55,438 spectators at a temporarily expanded Taylor Field. “The stadium had the extra stands for the Grey Cup,’’ Farthing says. “It was the biggest crowd ever at Taylor Field. “It was wonderful to feel the energy and enthusiasm of that many people watching a game at Taylor Field. “To beat Calgary on that day was a pretty special feeling, too. It was the least we could do for that many people.”


mosaicmemories

JOHNSON REMEMBERS CFL DEBUT

I A N H A M I LT O N

T

he Saskatchewan Roughriders’ final season on Taylor Field got Glen Johnson thinking about his first game as a CFL official. The Winnipeg product made his debut in stripes on July 12, 1990, when the Roughriders played host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a rematch of the 1989 Grey Cup game. Saskatchewan won that contest 43-40 at Toronto’s SkyDome, where Hamilton head coach Al Bruno lost his cool after a non-call by field judge Larry Rohan in the fourth quarter. The Grey Cup rematch was the teams’ first game of the 1990 campaign and Johnson — then 28 — was working as the back judge. “I was a pretty young, fresh-faced lad and Al Bruno was still a little upset about what happened in the Grey Cup,” recalls Johnson, who’s now the CFL’s senior vicepresident, football. “I remember him coming over to me and saying, ‘Hey kid, is that Larry Rohan on the other side?’ and I said, ‘Yes, Mr. Bruno, that’s Larry Rohan.’ He said, ‘Well, you switch sides with him right now because I’ve got a bone to pick with that guy.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that, sir. I can’t do that.’ ’’ Bruno wasn’t the only person at the stadium who gave Johnson an earful that day. The fans no doubt had something to say to him — even though Saskatchewan prevailed 38-35 — as did a Roughriders receiver known for his verbal barbs. “I remember Ray Elgaard asking me if my dad drove me to the stadium because I looked so young,” Johnson says with a chuckle. “It’s a great memory. I remember those days proudly.” Johnson estimates that he worked between 50 and 60 games on Taylor Field during his officiating career. One of those contests was the 1995 Grey Cup game. Johnson was the field judge as the Baltimore Stallions defeated the Calgary Stampeders 37-20.

I REMEMBER RAY ELGAARD ASKING ME IF MY DAD DROVE ME TO THE STADIUM BECAUSE I LOOKED SO YOUNG. IT’S A GREAT MEMORY. I REMEMBER THOSE DAYS PROUDLY. GLEN JOHNSON

That was the first time the CFL’s championship game was played in Regina. It also was the first (and only) time that one of the CFL’s American-based teams won the league title. “That was incredibly memorable,” says Johnson, whose crew worked on a nippy Nov. 19 at a stadium that had been expanded with temporary bleachers in the north and south end zones. “Larry Smith was the commissioner and he came in and said, ‘We’re going to delay the start of the game because we’re worried the temporary stands are going to blow down.’ So we got all undressed and

BRYAN S C H L O S S E R / R E GI NA L E A D E R - P O S T

we waited. Then he came back 10 minutes later and said, ‘Nah, to heck with it. We’re going to start anyway so get ready.’ “I remember it being very windy and a little chilly, but it was a great experience. That was probably my best game here.” Johnson won’t officiate another game at what’s now known as Mosaic Stadium. The facility is to be decommissioned after the 2016 season and the Roughriders will move into Mosaic Stadium 2.0 next season. Despite the heckling he absorbed from the stands over the years, it sounds like Johnson is going to miss the old stadium. “It was always a great place to work because you want to work in an environment where people are knowledgeable and care and are engaged,” he says. “It was amazing to be able to come here. It was comfortable, but you always knew it was going to be a great day — and the fans weren’t going to cut you any slack.” Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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mosaicmemories

F

rank McCrystal spent many years running on Taylor Field. He also spent a few years running around it. “I remember going to Taylor Field when I was a little kid,” McCrystal recalls of the days when he’d watch Saskatchewan Roughriders games. “We’d sit in the Rider Rookie section, which was in the north end. “After the game, you’d run around to the other end to the door there, where the Riders’ offices are now. The Riders would come out that door, get on a bus and go over to the exhibition grounds where their dressing room was. So you’d tear around there and see if you could get autographs of George Reed and (Ron) Lancaster and those guys. It was kind of fun.”

Frank McCrystal spent 44 years on Taylor Field as a player and a coach. R E G I NA L E A DE R -P O S T F I L E S

FROM RIDER ROOKIES TO THE RAMS

I A N H A M I LT O N

McCrystal eventually would spend 44 years on Taylor Field as a player and coach. He played three seasons of high school football there with the Campion Maroons and five seasons of junior with the Regina Rams. After five seasons as a Rams assistant coach, McCrystal served as the team’s head coach for 31 years until his retirement in 2014. And now, he and everyone else are preparing for the closure and demolition of the facility that’s now known as Mosaic Stadium. It’s to be replaced by a state-of-the-art, $278-million stadium of the same name. “It’s always a little bit sad to see things like that go,” McCrystal says, “but it’s also nice to have new things too.” McCrystal remembers his first high school game at Taylor Field, with the Sheldon-Williams Spartans providing the opposition for Campion. Coming out of the tunnel, trotting onto the field where Reed and Lancaster played and playing a night game under the lights “was pretty exciting” for McCrystal. He remembers his final junior game there with the Rams in 1976, partly because they beat the Hamilton Hurricanes in the Canadian final but also because it was the last game as Regina’s head coach for Gord Currie. McCrystal’s junior career also exposed him to Family Fun Day. “There’d be 10,000 screaming kids in the stands on Family Fun Day to watch the games and win bicycles and T-shirts and hats and everything else,” he says with a chuckle. “Our equipment manager was Normie Fong and he used to

IT’S A BIG PART OF OUR COMMUNITY — AND A BIG PART PHYSICALLY OF THE COMMUNITY, TOO. IT’S A LANDMARK. F R A N K M C C R Y S TA L

always say at the end of the game, ‘OK, guys. Take your chinstraps off and hang onto them,’ because all the little kids would be charging after us to get autographs and they’d always try to take your chinstrap off your helmet.” McCrystal’s time at the Rams’ helm featured some huge home games, including a ground-breaking exhibition contest against the University of Alberta Golden Bears in 1985, a victory over the Ottawa Sooners in 1986 that gave him his first Canadian junior title as head coach, and a contest in 1999 against the University of Manitoba Bisons before a huge crowd that marked the Rams’ debut in the CIS. McCrystal has seen the facility go from a natural playing surface (“In my last game in 1976, the grass was all gone and they didn’t have turf yet,” he says) to AstroTurf (“It was like playing on concrete as the weather got colder”) to its current FieldTurf. He has seen it go through renovations and alterations, including the latest additions that included private boxes and the video screen. Out-of-town recruits always wanted to see the place, so McCrystal would drive them past the stadium. Occasionally they’d go inside, just so the players could stand on the field. Shortly, the stadium will be no more. “It’s a big part of our community — and a big part physically of the community, too,” McCrystal says. “It’s a landmark.” Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories

rock

From Riders to r o b va n s t o n e

N d on h e a ly / r e g i na l e a de r -p o s t

It’s one thing to think about doing a stadium concert, but to do the biggest in the world for your first ever was a little bit mindblowing. there just isn’t anything bigger or higherpressure than dealing with the rolling stones. n e i l d o n n e l ly

32   Field of Green | october 2016

eil Donnelly derived plenty of satisfaction from helping to bring the Rolling Stones to Regina. It all began with a phone call that, at first, was unanswered. “My brother (Kevin) runs the MTS Centre in Winnipeg,” recalls Donnelly, rewinding a decade to when he was the vice-president of marketing and sales for Ipsco Place (now Evraz Place). “We’re both in the same business and we talk quite often and deal a lot together. He called me and he left about three or four voice-mails in the period of an hour. “Finally, I answered the phone. I had been in meetings, but I saw he was calling. I picked up the phone, knowing it was him, and said, ‘What the hell? Are you trying to book a Rolling Stones show for me or something?’ I sort of chuckled, and there was dead silence on the other end of the phone. “He went, ‘What have you heard? What do you know?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘The Stones are touring this summer and they want to play in Saskatchewan.’ I said, ‘What? Are you kidding me?’ “It was very funny that way. It’s unbelievable, but that’s exactly how I picked up the phone.” Momentum picked up from there. u


The Rolling Stones, with Keith Richards, top right, and Mick Jagger, on big screen, played two concerts at Mosaic Stadium in 2006.

r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t f i l e s

Field of Green | october 2016

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stadiumstories

LEFT: Jon Bon Jovi performs at Mosaic Stadium in 2010. BELOW: Fans get ready for the Kid Rock / Bon Jovi concert at Mosaic Stadium in 2010. pho t o s : t r oy f l e e c e / r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t

A series of high-level discussions included Donnelly, JP Ellson (president of Saskatchewan Creative Music 2007), Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco and other City of Regina representatives, and the concert promoters. In May of 2006, a site visit was held, and everything continued to unfold positively from there. On July 25, 2006, it was announced that the Stones would play a show at Mosaic Stadium on Oct. 8, 2006. The response was so overwhelming that a second show, to be held Oct. 6, was summarily scheduled. Each of the sold-out shows attracted some 40,000 spectators. “It’s one thing to think about doing a stadium concert, but to do the biggest in the world for your first ever was a little bit mind-blowing,’’ says Donnelly, who is now the chief executive officer of the Conexus Arts Centre. “There just isn’t anything bigger or higher-pressure than dealing with the Rolling Stones. They have legal teams and press teams and just every single person you want to deal with at the biggest level in the business. “For me, it was six months of no sleep and serious stress, because everything

was the biggest and the best in the world, but they were the toughest people to deal with, the toughest negotiators. “That one, for sure, stands out the most because it paved the way for all the other ones.” Mosaic Stadium also played host to AC/DC (Aug. 24, 2009), Bon Jovi (July 28, 2010) and Paul McCartney (Aug. 14, 2013). “Each of them was very unique in their own way,’’ Donnelly says. “Each time we did it, we got lucky. The weather was perfect and they all became magical nights in their own sort of way, with the way the crowd reacted and the way the event took over the city. “There was always such a huge buzz around these things that they became pretty special for so many people. It’s a bit surreal when you think of the magnitude of it and the number of people you touched with the whole thing.” Years ago, could Donnelly have ever imagined that so many big-name acts would perform in Regina?

“You would hope it could happen,” he responds. “You’d feel that there was enough passion in the community for it. “It’s pretty hard to believe. Those are some of the biggest names in the music industry. It just doesn’t get any bigger than Paul or the Stones, but even AC/DC is just massive and just fun. “That’s the other thing. We just had no issues. People came with such a good attitude toward it and a good mood and they weren’t going to let things bother them. The people were there to have fun and they showed it. They just behaved well and followed the rules.” The celebration reached a different level only a few months after the McCartney concert when, on Nov. 24, 2013, the Saskatchewan Roughriders posted the first home-field Grey Cup victory in franchise history — defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 before 44,710 CFL patrons. u Field of Green | october 2016

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stadiumstories

THERE WAS ALWAYS SUCH A HUGE BUZZ AROUND THESE THINGS THAT THEY BECAME PRETTY SPECIAL FOR SO MANY PEOPLE. IT’S A BIT SURREAL WHEN YOU THINK OF THE MAGNITUDE OF IT AND THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE YOU TOUCHED WITH THE WHOLE THING. n e i l d o n n e l ly

After Regina was awarded the 2013 Grey Cup festival, the Roughriders worked out a secondment arrangement with Donnelly so that he could work as the event’s executive director. “There’s another one that’s just a monster, because the expectations are so high and the risks are so high to not deliver on being the best ever,” Donnelly says. “When the marching orders are, ‘We want the best ever,’ it’s like, ‘OK, let’s not set the standards too high. I appreciate stretch goals, but best ever …’ “The stars just lined up. There were lots of things that went against us that week, the weather being the main thing — to have one of the coldest weeks in the history of November for your festival — but it was amazing how people just didn’t care. The streets lined for a parade at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning when it was minus-35. It was, ‘Who cares? We’re there!’ ”

The weather turned for the better on game day, adding to the festive mood as the Roughriders captured their fourthever Grey Cup. “It was pretty awesome to watch it and be a part of it,” says Donnelly, who sat beside comedian Brent Butt at the game. “I was also with Dave Pettigrew, who was the chair of our festival committee, and afterwards we went, ‘We have to walk the Green Mile. There’s a zillion other things we should be doing right now, but we have to do this.’ “We went and strolled down Albert Street for a while and high-fived everybody we could high-five. It was pretty awesome.” rvanstone@postmedia.com twitter.com/robvanstone

RIGHT: Paul McCartney at Mosaic Stadium in 2013. b rya n s c h l o s s e r / r e gi na l e a de r post

LEFT: Angus Young of AC/DC performs at Mosaic Stadium in 2009. d on h e a ly / r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t

36   Field of Green | october 2016


Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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mosaicmemories

I FELT I KNEW THE PLACE BETTER THAN OTHER GUYS. I FELT THAT LUCK WAS ALWAYS IN MY FAVOUR BECAUSE OF ALL THE TIMES MY FAMILY HAD PLAYED THERE. IT WAS A COOL PLACE TO PLAY. MARC MUELLER

Former University of Regina Rams quarterback Marc Mueller has special ties to Taylor Field. M IC H A E L B E L L / R E G I NA L E A DE R -P O S T

TAYLOR FIELD WAS A FAMILY FAVOURITE

I A N H A M I LT O N

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here’s something familiar about Taylor Field for Marc Mueller. “I love the place,” the Reginaborn Calgary Stampeders running backs coach says of the soon-to-bedemolished stadium. “If I ever wanted to see Ronnie, that was where I had to go.” “Ronnie” was Ron Lancaster, Mueller’s grandfather. From 1963 through ’78, Lancaster quarterbacked the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders on Taylor Field. After his playing career ended, he coached the team for two seasons. After a stint as a TV analyst, Lancaster returned to the stadium as a visiting coach, first with the Edmonton Eskimos and later with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Mueller was born in 1989, so he only knew his grandfather as the coach of a visiting team. Lancaster’s legendary playing career was not on Mueller’s radar early on. “I was probably five when I clued in that he not only played here but he played here for a long time,” Mueller says. “I knew it bugged him that I never cheered for the Riders. He always wanted me to cheer for them when they weren’t playing the Eskimos, but I was always an Eskimos fan and then, when he went to Hamilton, a Hamilton fan. “I started to clue in as I grew up and started to play football.” After Mueller started playing tackle

football at age eight, he got chances to play on the field on which his grandfather had starred. Mueller’s career on Taylor Field included games in Regina Minor Football and the Regina Intercollegiate Football League as well as with the University of Regina Rams. His first game there was the RMF atom final when he was in Grade 5. ”I remember the game and the old turf and how you had to wear gym runners instead of cleats on a turf field, which was pretty cool,” says Mueller who, like his grandfather, played quarterback. “I played all of my high school games there, including two city finals. “All my Rams games there were special, not only because I was playing for the Rams but because it was home. It was a familiar place.” In fact, Mueller’s family ties to the stadium run deeper than Lancaster. Mueller’s father, Larry, played there. So did two of Marc’s uncles, Bobby and R.D. Lancaster. “There’s an attachment for the whole family,” Mueller says. “Getting to play there myself — after (Lancaster) played there for so many years and after my dad and uncles played there — I always felt like it was sort of a home away from home. “I felt I knew the place better than other guys. I felt that luck was always in my favour because of all the times my fam-

ily had played there. It was a cool place to play.” Mueller won an RIFL title on Taylor Field in 2006. He helped the Rams post some memorable victories at the stadium during his university career, including a win over the Manitoba Bisons in 2012 after tearing the labrum in his right shoulder and a semifinal victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies later that season. As a fan, he particularly remembers the game the Roughriders played shortly after Lancaster’s death in 2008. The Little General’s No. 23 was painted on the field at the 23-yard lines and a moment of silence was held in his honour before the game. For Mueller, the ceremony remains memorable. The Stampeders play just one regularseason game in Regina and Mueller expects it to be special for him. Unless Calgary visits the Roughriders in the playoffs, the Aug. 13 contest will be the final time that Mueller will be at his family’s second home. “I hope that whatever they do to it — when they demolish it or whatever — it’s in the off-season so that I can come home and see it,” Mueller says. “Obviously, it’ll be an emotional moment for me, my family and a bunch of people who have really good memories from there. “You want to be there for the last moments of Taylor Field.” Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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mosaicmemories

o’donnell enjoyed personal touch ro b va n s t o n e

there was no sideline. there was field and there was you. the players were so close that you could touch them. mike o’donnell

don healy / r e g ina lead er -p os t

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hen Mike O’Donnell reflects on time spent at Taylor Field, he thinks of friends and family as much as he does football. “I have a very vivid memory of going to a Rider game as a little boy with my father, who never went to games, but he took me as a little guy,’’ says O’Donnell, rewinding to the mid-1950s. “I have no other recollection. I don’t know who played. I remember sitting on my father’s knee at Taylor Field and thinking that this was a pretty neat thing. I might have been four years old.” Growing up in Regina, O’Donnell bought a Saskatchewan Roughriders season ticket and sat with a friend in the Rider Rookies section — which was located behind the north end zone. “It became one of those moments where you had a friend, you had a shared experience, and it was that whole idea of being in a very comfortable place with heroes and with athletes,’’ says O’Donnell, a former

40   Field of Green | october 2016

high school teacher and commissioner of high school athletics who later became a member of Regina city council. “I remember always walking away thinking that was a good place to be.” Even though it was hardly state-of-theart, devoid of amenities that are available at the current Mosaic Stadium — to be replaced next season by a new, $278-million facility at Evraz Place. “I remember the white picket fence in the end zone,” O’Donnell says. “I remember sitting right against that fence many, many times because, as a kid, you were the smaller one so adults would always sit back and you could get closer to the field. “There was no sideline. There was field and there was you. The players were so close that you could touch them. Of course, they were more concerned about hurting us than they were about making the catch.” Some of the catches weren’t made during football games. O’Donnell remembers attending baseball games at Taylor Field.

“I went to watch (future city councillor) Terry Hincks, the catcher for the Senators in the American Little League, play in the city final at Taylor Field, because the little ball park used to be in the northeast corner,” O’Donnell says. “Baseball was always part of what Taylor Field was at that time, and Little League was big. There were people at the games and there was Leader-Post coverage and all those things.” O’Donnell later played on Taylor Field — on behalf of the O’Neill Titans, for whom he scored the first-ever touchdown during a game at Mount Pleasant — and spent time at Regina’s venerable football stadium while involved with the Regina High Schools Athletic Association. His recollections of the facility extend beyond players, coaches and officials. “You can’t forget (concessionaires) Spud Leggett and Earl Stuart, because they were some of the characters of the stadium,’’ O’Donnell says. “Everybody knew who they were. “When Spud or Earl would walk by at the end of the third quarter to try to check on the game, guys were yelling at them by their first name. It wasn’t like they were the concession guys. “That’s how it was. That’s not corporate. That’s personal.”


mosaicmemories

new stadium was overdue r o b va n s t o n e

G

do n he aly / re gina l eade r-p ost

eorge Reed welcomes the new Mosaic Stadium while duly appreciating the first one — which was known as Taylor Field throughout his illustrious CFL career. “The place itself has a lot of great memories,” the legendary Saskatchewan Roughriders fullback says. “I think that it has served the community and the Riders very well. It has endured the time.” And there is plenty of nostalgia as the closing of the stadium, which has been the Roughriders’ home every year since 1936, draws closer. But Reed, as fondly as he remembers the venue, recognizes that change is necessary and, in fact, overdue. “It was past its prime when I played, and that was a long time ago,’’ says Reed, who starred for the Roughriders from 1963 to 1975. “They’ve rebuilt parts of it and done what they can do with the place with the end zones and the box seats, but after a while — unless you start moving concrete — there’s not much you can do. They’ve done all they could do to utilize the place the best that they could. “There were some great games that were played there and that’s what you take away.” One game in particular — played on Nov. 11, 1963 — stands out. “I still think our comeback win in the playoffs against Calgary when we were down by 26 points kind of set the tone for the rest of the career,’’ Reed says, rewinding to the 1963 Western Conference semi-

final against the Calgary Stampeders. Calgary won 35-9 at home to open a two-game, total-points series. Needing to win by at least 27 points at home to advance to the Western final against the B.C. Lions, the Roughriders accomplished precisely that, prevailing 39-12. “It was quite something,’’ says Reed, who scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 10-yard run late in the fourth quarter. “I will always remember that game. “It’s easy to remember because, when they started the game, they might have had 3,000 people in the stadium. When we came out at halftime, there were people hanging from the rafters. Everyone rushed to the stadium and was fighting to get in. Of course, we were able to win that game and go on and play B.C. in the (conference) final.” The comeback conquest of Calgary came to be known as “The Little Miracle of Taylor Field.” “That might have been the start of the real love affair between the fans and the Riders,’’ says Reed, who in 1966 helped Saskatchewan win its first-ever Grey Cup championship. “You always had great fans and you had players who the fans really followed, but that was kind of the game where the fans fell in love with the Riders, and it was quite a game. “That was at the start of my career and, if you wanted to kick something off, I think that was the thing that kicked off my career. Of course, I had a lot of other great things that happened to me along the way, but that’s the thing that I remember.” Recollections of another game against Calgary are not nearly as fond. In 1970, the Roughriders posted a 14-2 regular-season record — still the best in franchise history — before meeting the Stampeders in the best-of-three Western final. A third and deciding game was required at a frigid Taylor Field.

“It was the coldest game I ever played,’’ Reed says. “It was brutal.’’ So was the outcome, from Reed’s perspective. Larry Robinson kicked a 32-yard field goal into a forbidding wind on the final play to give Calgary a 15-14 win. “The wind probably cost us the victory in that game, because that was the game where Larry Robinson kicked it over here (to the right) and it blew back through the goal posts,’’ Reed says. “It’s probably one of the games that hurt the most, because we had a good football team. We were 14-2 that year. “We’re talking a long time ago, but that game still stands in my mind as one of the two games that I still remember and that still hurts.” Reed also has vivid recollections of his introduction to Regina, which took place in the summer of 1963 after he graduated from the University of Washington. “I went over to the office at exhibition track above the cow barn,’’ says Reed, referencing the days when the Roughriders practised on the infield at a horse-racing track. “Then they took me over to the dressing room and we had a couple of pot-bellied stoves and three light bulbs hanging down. “Then you go to the stadium and it wasn’t much bigger than what my high school stadium was as far as seats and so forth.” And, for the next 13 years, it was a second home for an iconic player. “A lot of people criticized the place, but they did as good a job as they could with what they had to work with,” Reed concludes. “What really has endeared people (to the transition) is the way in which they have let people see the new stadium and what it’s going to look like, and being able to see it come out of the ground. “I think it’s going to be probably one of the finest facilities in Canada.” Field of Green | october 2016

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stadiumstories

Taylor Field memories stick with r o b va n s t o n e

Gluey Hughie

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Hugh Campbell, 31, versus the Montreal Alouettes in 1966 at Taylor Field. s a s k at c h e wa n s p or t s h a l l of fa m e

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ugh Campbell’s excellence with the Saskatchewan Roughriders was such that part of their home field was nicknamed in his honour. Hughie’s Haven was the north end zone of Taylor Field, where he collaborated with legendary quarterback Ron Lancaster on so many touchdown passes. A waist-high fence was situated just beyond the end line. A few feet away, there was another, taller fence, through which fans in the end-zone seats could watch the game. It was a cramped and sometimes hazardous area. Campbell was dangerous in another respect, considering his familiarity with and mastery of every square inch of the Haven. “We threw several balls back in there — not just one, not just three, but a dozen or more,” Campbell recalls. “In one particular case, I caught the ball diving into the fence and the B.C. Lions’ defensive back (Craig Murray) dove to knock the ball down. He hit that fence and it broke his nose. He was messed up.” There were times, though, that Campbell paid the price — such as one occasion when he caught a touchdown pass from Lancaster. “I hit that fence really hard, just about at my thighs, and that caused me to do a full flip,” Campbell says. “When I got to the second fence, it cut my helmet open, like somebody had done it with a cleaver. “I don’t mean that it just punched a hole

in it. It ruined a helmet.” That experience does not detract from Campbell’s memories of Hughie’s Haven — which he has called “a sacred spot” — or the soon-to-be-demolished stadium in which he was introduced to Canadian professional football. Only 22 at the time, the former Washington State University star joined the Roughriders during the 1963 season after being released by the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. It was a transformative season for the Roughriders, who earlier in the year had added Lancaster and George Reed. “They gave me Number 72 and (halfback) Dick Cohee went by me and said, ‘Seventy-two … we’ve seen a lot of guys wear that shirt this year,’ ” Campbell says with a chuckle. “So I asked the next year for a new number.” Campbell wore No. 31 when he enjoyed his greatest success as a player. But he was No. 72 when the Roughriders engineered their best of all comebacks. On Nov. 11, 1963, the Roughriders played host to the Calgary Stampeders in what was thought to be an obligatory playoff game — the finale of a two-game, totalpoints Western Conference semifinal. Two days earlier, Calgary had won 35-9 at McMahon Stadium, meaning that Saskatchewan needed to outscore the opposition by at least 27 points in Game 2 to advance to the conference final against B.C. At the start of the Nov. 11 game, there was a sparse gathering in the stands at Taylor Field, but that soon changed as the


HUGHIE’S HAVEN WAS THE NORTH END ZONE OF TAYLOR FIELD, WHERE HE COLLABORATED WITH LEGENDARY QUARTERBACK RON LANCASTER ON SO MANY TOUCHDOWN PASSES. Roughriders got off to a hot start. “Now, all of a sudden, you look around and there’s people coming to the game,” Campbell says. “There’s a ball game, so by halftime we had our fans back. “I’d been to a lot of games where the fans left early, but never one where they weren’t going to come at all.” The Roughriders won Game 2, 39-12, and claimed the two-game series by a onepoint margin (48-47). The comeback was quickly, enduringly dubbed “The Little Miracle of Taylor Field.” Overlooked in the celebration was a touchdown Campbell scored during the second quarter of Game 1 in Calgary. Without that major — the Roughriders’ lone TD in a lopsided loss — Saskatchewan would not have been able to win the series. “I was on top of a snow mound,” Campbell says. “They had cleared the field and they left a hump of snow in the back right corner, closest to the visitors’ dressing room. The hump of snow was partially inbounds and partially out of bounds, and they never made any ground rules where you couldn’t go up on that snow. “I told Ronnie, ‘I’ll be on the snow pile.’ So I was standing up there and he threw the ball up high and the defensive backs thought, ‘Well, the ball’s going out of the end zone,’ and there I was.’’ But, as far as unconventional plays are concerned, the “girl in the blue dress” may be unrivalled. Roughriders home games were so popular in the 1960s that fans were often

Hugh Campbell, left, against the Edmonton Eskimos in 1967 at Taylor Field. R E G I NA L E A DE R -P O S T F I L E S

seated on the sideline, the stands being packed. “(The sideline) was pretty much just lined with people everywhere,” Campbell says. “One time, there was a girl sitting down there in a blue dress. “When we were going to run a certain play, sometimes I would tell Ronnie ahead of time. It was called ‘Get Open.’ If I knew ahead of time what I’d be doing, I would

tell him ‘I’m going to spin out at 20 yards,’ or whatever. Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to spin out at 20 yards,’ I said, ‘See the girl in the blue dress? I’ll be there.’ So Ronnie rolls out and he throws it right at her and I’m there. “Ronnie used to just love that story. He would tell that story just because of the girl in the blue dress. That’s truthfully what happened.” Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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Goodbyes are never easy. This year we close a chapter in our story, and a moment in time comes to an end. But, goodbyes also signal a celebration for what was, and anticipation for what will be. This season, you helped us say Farewell to the home we know and love. This house was built with stone and metal. It was fortified with sweat and determination. But you, Rider Nation, moved in and truly made it home. You helped redefine pride, passion and dedication. Every time you stepped into historic Mosaic Stadium, you became a part of our history, and a part of the folklore and legacy of our first home. After this season we leave historic Mosaic Stadium behind. But we don’t leave ghosts in its wake—we leave moments. And memories that will last well beyond the final whistle and long after the doors close. Our entire history has been played on this field. And our entire future is spread out ahead of us. Your commitment has proven timeless, and so is our gratitude. Thank you, Rider Nation.

Craig Reynolds President and CEO Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club Inc.


top 10 games

RIDER PRIDE DAY DATE: SCORE:

OCT. 28, 1979 SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS 26 B.C. LIONS 12 ATTENDANCE: 28,012 WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

WHO DID WHAT?

R E GI NA L EAD ER -P OS T FILES

Rider Pride was born in late October of 1979, when an expanded Taylor Field was sold out — and then some — for a Saskatchewan Roughriders game against the B.C. Lions. The ambitious objective was to fill the stadium’s 27,606 seats for the first time. Winnipegbased sports writer and broadcaster John Robertson (formerly of the Regina Leader-Post) was the catalyst for the sellout, which was envisioned as a demonstration of the fans’ passion for the team. In the 10 days leading up to the game, Robertson made five trips to Regina while paying his own travel and accommodations expenses. He also declined the offer of a $500 speaker’s fee. The public responded, en masse, to Robertson’s impassioned pleas even though the rebuilding Roughriders entered the game with a 1-13 record. The overflow turnout generated an estimated $80,000 towards the bottom line of the Roughriders, who nonetheless lost more than $400,000 on their 1979 operations. On game day, the Roughriders presented Robertson with a plaque to acknowledge his contributions. Roughriders defensive back Frank Dark set the tone for the game when he intercepted a pass by Joe Paopao and motored 102 yards for a major. Roger Goree and Ken McEachern also had interceptions for the home side. Saskatchewan quarterback Danny Sanders had 12 completions, six of which were to Joey Walters (who had 127 yards and one TD). Former Saskatoon Hilltops star Reg Boudreau, handling placements due to a knee injury to Bob Macoritti, was 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts. The Lions’ lone touchdown was courtesy of an 87-yard pass from exRoughrider Mike Nott to future Hall of Famer Jim Young. It wasn’t enough, as Saskatchewan notched its second and final victory of the 1979 campaign. The Roughriders also went 2-14 in 1980, but were able to realize a profit on that season’s operations with help from the momentum established on Oct. 28, 1979.

WHAT WAS SAID? ■ “There is a magnet here. It’s like an old lover I keep coming back to.’’ — Robertson. ■ “When I got to the park and was exposed to that nationally covered standing ovation just prior to the game, I can tell you I was emotionally moved, probably the greatest in my life.’’

— Gord Staseson, who was the Roughriders’ president from 1979 to 1981.

■ “The day belonged to the fans of Saskatchewan.” — Leader-Post sports editor/columnist Bob Hughes.

■ “That was the beginning of Rider Pride.” — Ron Lancaster, who was the Roughriders’ head coach in 1979 and 1980.

10 Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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top 10 games

1970 WEST FINAL DATE: SCORE:

NOV. 22, 1970 CALGARY STAMPEDERS 15 SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS 14 ATTENDANCE: 18,385 WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

“Special” might not be the best description from the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ perspective, but the deciding game of the best-of-three 1970 Western Conference final was certainly memorable and impactful. The Roughriders posted the best regular-season record in franchise history (142) and earned a bye into the final. Saskatchewan lost 28-11 to Calgary at Taylor Field on Nov. 14 before winning 11-3 in Calgary four days later to force a third game, which proceeded even though the wind chill plummeted below minus-30. Complicating matters for the Roughriders, Ron Lancaster — who was named the CFL’s most outstanding player in 1970 — was unable to start after suffering cracked ribs and a bruised muscle in his back in Game 2. As a result, Gary Lane got the nod at quarterback for Saskatchewan.

WHO DID WHAT?

Late in the third quarter, Lane swept around the left end and toward the end zone from the Calgary 12-yard line. Lane thought he had crossed the goal line, but the officials ruled that he had stepped out of bounds on the one-yard line. Lane then fumbled on first-and-goal, but Saskatchewan recovered the ball. On second-and-goal from the two, the call was a handoff to George Reed, but the legendary fullback slipped on the treacherous playing surface before the exchange with the quarterback could be made. Lane improvised by keeping the ball and lunging toward the goal line. One official signalled a Saskatchewan touchdown, only to be over-ruled. On third down, Lane fumbled and the opportunity was lost. Even so, Saskatchewan was in position to win the game, carrying a 14-12 lead into the latter stages of the game. With three seconds left in the fourth quarter, there was time for Larry Robinson to attempt a 32-yard field goal — into a biting wind that was gusting to 60 km-h. Improbably, Robinson made the kick. Gary Lane.

R E GI NA L E A DE R POST FILES

Larry Robinson, shown in 2010.

CHR ISTINA RYA N / CA LGA RY HER A LD

WHAT WAS SAID? ■ “I didn’t think there was a chance. I tried kicking into the wind from there before the game and never even got one to the goal line. When I did kick it, I thought it was going to make the goal line but go wide. Then a gust hit it and, whew, it went through.’’ — Robinson.

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■ “The best team we ever had was in 1970. (Calgary) never should have won it.” — Roughriders centre Ted Urness. ■ “They took it away from us.” — Lane. ■ “We were in the end zone twice from the waist up and they didn’t allow the touchdown.” — Reed.

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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top 10 games

1951 WEST FINAL DATE: SCORE:

NOV. 12, 1951 SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS 19 EDMONTON ESKIMOS 18 ATTENDANCE: 12,463 WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

The Saskatchewan Roughriders — led by charismatic quarterback Glenn Dobbs — outlasted the Edmonton Eskimos to advance to a Grey Cup game for the first time since 1934. The Roughriders moved on after winning the best-of-three Western Interprovincial Football League final. The Roughriders lost the opener in Edmonton (failing 15-11 on Nov. 3) before defeating the visiting Eskimos 12-5 one week later to force a third and deciding game at Taylor Field. Twelve days after disposing of the Eskimos, Saskatchewan faced the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Grey Cup game and lost 21-14. It was a rare close Grey Cup game for the Roughriders, who had lost by a combined score of 181-27 in their previous seven appearances. Saskatchewan would not appear in another championship game until 1966, when the Roughriders downed Ottawa 29-14 in Vancouver.

The Roughriders face Ottawa in the 1951 Grey Cup game.

WHAT WAS SAID? ■ “You were wonderful. There may have been better football games than that one today, but nobody ever played as hard as you did. I’m proud of you. You’re my boys.” — Roughriders head coach Harry

WHO DID WHAT?

The Roughriders held quarter leads of 6-0, 7-0 and 8-0 before the teams combined for four touchdowns (which were worth five points each at the time) during a frantic fourth quarter. Former Roughriders playercoach Frank Filchock converted a TD by Rollie Miles to pull the Eskimos to within 8-6, Glenn Dobbs but Saskatchewan countered when Dobbs threw his second scoring pass of the game, to Bob Sandberg. Red Ettinger’s convert made it 14-6. The Eskimos’ Bob Paffrath fielded the ensuing kickoff on the eight-yard line and advanced to his 25 before lateralling to Jim Chambers, who sped another 85 yards for a touchdown that was converted by Annis Stukus. Later, an interception by Sandberg gave Saskatchewan possession on Edmonton’s 18-yard line. Four plays later, Dobbs scored on a one-yard run to give Saskatchewan a 19-12 lead. Undaunted, the Eskimos scored on a three-yard run by Mike King. The convert by Stukus made it 19-18 for Saskatchewan with 2:40 left. Edmonton had one more possession, but ended up fumbling near midfield. Dobbs ran out the clock from there. After the game, jubilant fans tore down the uprights and carried them through the downtown core. The goal posts were eventually deposited on the front lawn of the Dobbs residence on the 2100 block of Montague Street.

MYRTLE SURJIK

(Blackjack) Smith, shortly before being thrown into the shower by his players.

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■ “Our team is red-hot!” — Chanting Roughriders fans after the game.

Harry (Blackjack) Smith

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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top 10 games

1995 GREY CUP DATE: SCORE:

NOV. 19, 1995 BALTIMORE STALLIONS 37 CALGARY STAMPEDERS 20 ATTENDANCE: 52,064 WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

R E G INA LEAD ER -P OS T FILES

The Grey Cup was played in Saskatchewan for the first time in 1995. It proved to be a tonic for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, even though they posted a 6-12 regular-season record and missed the 1995 CFL playoffs. The Regina-based championship game was played at a time when the Roughriders and the league were in dire financial straits. The enthusiastic response to “Huddle Up In Saskatchewan” generated much-needed funds that helped to sustain Canadian professional football at a critical time. The Roughriders guaranteed the CFL $3.2 million in proceeds and emerged with a further $1.1 million in profits for themselves. In addition, the enthusiastic show of support for the Grey Cup festival was a respite from the misery that had enveloped the league. The events of November 1995 also proved that Saskatchewan could, in fact, play host to a Grey Cup game. Two subsequent championship games, those of 2003 and 2013, were played on Taylor Field as a byproduct of the success of 1995. The 1995 Grey Cup also featured the only championship-game victory by a United States-based team. The three-year American experiment ended after the 1995 season. Another legacy from the 1995 campaign is the Roughriders’ singlegame attendance record. On Oct. 14, 1995, fans filled the temporary bleachers, which were erected for the Grey Cup game, and watched Saskatchewan defeat Calgary 25-20 before 55,438 spectators.

WHO DID WHAT?

Stallions quarterback Tracy Ham was named the Grey Cup game’s most valuable player after throwing for 213 yards and rushing for a touchdown. Baltimore also got standout performances from Mike Pringle (who rushed for 137 yards), Chris Wright (who opened the scoring with an 82-yard punt return), Carlos Huerta (who kicked a Grey Cup-record 53-yard field goal) and its defence, which controlled a Doug Flutie-led Stampeders offence. Calgary’s Dave Sapunjis earned most-outstanding-Canadian honours after making eight receptions for 113 yards.

WHAT WAS SAID?

7

■ “We gave the Grey Cup a new storyline.” — Alan Ford, who was the Roughriders’ general manager from 1989 to 1999.

■ “I’m really disappointed. I feel like we let down Canada. I’ve been a Canadian supporter of the CFL my whole life. We wanted to keep the Grey Cup in Canada, but we lost. It’s going to the States and we don’t even know where.” — Stampeders linebacker Matt Finlay. ■ “Rest assured (the Grey Cup) is in good hands.” — Stallions owner Jim Speros, who moved the team to Montreal in 1996, when the Alouettes were reborn.

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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RIDERS WIN ON A DRAW

top 10 games

DATE: SCORE:

SEPT. 2, 2007 SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS 31 WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS 26 ATTENDANCE: 28,800 WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

It was the signature game of a storybook season — one that culminated in the third Grey Cup championship in franchise history. The Roughriders’ annual Labour Day Classic against Winnipeg is always a happening, but that was especially true in 2007. Saskatchewan’s Kerry Joseph capped a seven-play, 91-yard drive by scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 27-yard quarterback draw with six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Joseph’s TD gave the Roughriders their fifth consecutive victory, sole possession of first place in the West Division, and a 7-2-0 record (the best in the league at mid-season) for the first time since 1976. Winnipeg emerged from the game with an East Division-leading record of 5-3-1 and would eventually meet Saskatchewan again in the 95th Grey Cup, won 23-19 by Saskatchewan. Three days before that game, Joseph was named the league’s most outstanding player — and his most outstanding play certainly helped his cause.

WHO DID WHAT?

Kerry Joseph scored the winning touchdown in the 2007 Labour Day Classic.

Joseph threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns — to Matt Dominguez and Mike Washington — and rushed R E G I NA L E A DE R for another 74. Dominguez, Corey Grant, Washington, POST FILES Wes Cates and Andy Fantuz had clutch receptions on the final drive. Luca Congi chipped in with a 50-yard field goal for Saskatchewan. Blue Bombers quarterback Kevin Glenn had a stellar game, completing 27 of 36 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns. Ex-Roughrider Derick Armstrong, who caught two of Glenn’s scoring tosses, had 13 receptions for 205 yards. Armstrong overshadowed future Hall of Famer Milt Stegall, who was held to two receptions for 38 yards. Armstrong was often matched up against Roughriders cornerback James Johnson, who had a difficult day. Johnson enjoyed the last laugh, though, intercepting three passes — and returning one pick for a touchdown — en route to being named the most valuable player of the 2007 Grey Cup game.

WHAT WAS SAID? ■ “I don’t know if I’ve ever run faster.” — Joseph. ■ “If Kerry was five pounds heavier, I don’t know if he would have squeezed through there. There was a hole and he did.” — Roughriders guard Mike Abou-Mechrek, one of the key blockers on the quarterback draw.

■ “You can’t really ask for anything more, especially if you’re a Rider fan.” — Dominguez.

6

■ “It was a classic Sunday drive.” — Murray McCormick, Regina Leader-Post.

■ “That’s why they call it the Labour Day Classic.” — Roughriders head coach Kent Austin.

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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top 10 games

THE FIRST GAME AT TAYLOR FIELD DATE: SCORE:

SEPT. 6, 1947 WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS 6 REGINA ROUGHRIDERS 5 ATTENDANCE: 4,000 (ESTIMATED) WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

On the Saturday afternoon of Labour Day weekend, the Roughriders played their first game at Taylor Field. The field, previously known as Park de Young, was renamed in honour of Neil J. (Piffles) Taylor. A former player, coach, executive and president with the Regina Rugby Club and the Roughriders, Taylor had died on May 24, 1947 at age 52. The dedication took place during a pre-game ceremony that included tributes from Regina mayor Hugh McGillivray and Roughriders president Jack Rowand. The Sully Glasser, Lions Band was also part of the program. right, scored the The inaugural game at Taylor Field was Roughriders’ first also the Roughriders’ first on grass at touchdown at the the former Park de Young site. The team renamed Taylor Field. R E G I NA L E A DE R -P O S T had previously played on a dirt surface FILES that often turned to mud. “The field drew raves from players and fans and standing in the background was an unobtrusive fellow with a weather-beaten face who spent a summer babying along every blade of grass on the premises,” Dave Dryburgh wrote in the Leader-Post. “They said a turf field wasn’t possible in one year, but (groundskeeper) Howard Pink did it. Take a bow, Howard, for a really fine job.”

WHO DID WHAT?

The Roughriders opened the scoring on their first possession when Stan Stasica threw a touchdown pass to Sully Glasser. That play accounted for all of the home team’s scoring, being that touchdowns were worth five points at the time and the convert attempt failed. Winnipeg scored on a touchdown pass from Don Hiney to Joey Turner, who hit pay dirt — or pay turf, given the new playing surface — on a second-and-19 play. Hiney’s convert snapped a 5-5 second-quarter deadlock and stood as the final, winning point. In the waning minutes, the Roughriders twice attempted to kick for a game-tying rouge, but both efforts were unsuccessful.

WHAT WAS SAID? ■ “They’ve got more mustard than we have out there.” — Bombers coach

Jack West, referencing the Roughriders, to his players on the sideline during the game.

5

■ “Where did that guy come from?” — Bombers players overheard discussing Stasica, who completed seven of 13 passes for 141 yards in his first game as the Roughriders’ quarterback. (The previous year, future Roughriders general manager Ken Preston had handled most of the quarterbacking.)

■ “The Riders were just too stunned and heartbroken to speak.” — Dryburgh.

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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THE FIRST LABOUR DAY GAME

top 10 games

DATE: SCORE:

SEPT. 6, 1937 CALGARY BRONKS 4 REGINA ROUGHRIDERS 1 ATTENDANCE: 5,000 (ESTIMATED)

Roughriders action at Park de Young in 1936, one year before the first Labour Day game. PR OV I NC I A L A R C H I V E S OF S A S K AT C H E WA N, R -B 1 3 5 4 9 -1 A

WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

Although the score was not in the Roughriders’ favour, and a game that included three completed forward passes and seven first downs could hardly be termed a classic, the 1937 regular-season opener was noteworthy from two standpoints: (1) It was the Roughriders’ first Labour Day game, and; (2) It was the team’s first recorded night game. Floodlights illuminated the action at Park de Young, to which the Roughriders had moved for good in 1936 — beginning an extended tenancy on the grounds that would eventually be renamed Taylor Field (in 1947) and Mosaic Stadium (2006). The lighting was not the best — higher-calibre floodlights were not installed at Taylor Field until 1954 — but it allowed for a scheduled kickoff of 8 p.m.

WHO DID WHAT?

Calgary tied the game at 1-1 in the third quarter and went ahead when Rorvig connected midway through the fourth quarter when Ed Rorvig connected with “as pretty a kick as was ever booted on a Canadian gridiron,” Dave Dryburgh opined in the Leader-Post. An interception by Calgary’s Mel Snowden, at the expense of Regina quarterback Jim Lander, keyed the Bronks’ surge. Future Hall of Fame backfielder Ralph Pierce helped the red-and-black-clad Roughriders rush for 82 yards, seven more than the Bronks. Calgary had difficulty gaining yards along the ground against a Regina line that included Bob Walker, Louis Chumich, Johnny Garuik and Jack Thompson. Chumich, who played despite being ill, was taken to hospital after the game.

4

WHAT WAS SAID?

■ “We’ll lick those Bronks right the next time we meet them. They’re not a damned bit better than we are. Condition beat us tonight. Condition, that’s all.” — Walker to his teammates after the game. (The Roughriders lost twice more to Calgary that season before defeating the visiting Bronks 26-1 on Oct. 23.)

■ “Another game under their belts and the Riders will use their spurs on those Bronks.” — Unnamed Roughriders fan after the game.

■ “Tougher, much tougher than Winnipegs, those Roughriders. The linemen are more aggressive. They gave us all we wanted.” — Bronks coach Carl Cronin. ■ “It was almost a pleasure to lose that one. The way Dean Griffing and his gang battled out there under the lights took the steam out of the Bronks. Man, it was a thrill.” — Dryburgh. Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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top 10 games

THE FIRST GAME AT THE FUTURE TAYLOR FIELD SITE DATE: SCORE:

OCT. 15, 1921 REGINA RUGBY CLUB 31 MOOSE JAW MILLERS 4 ATTENDANCE: UNREPORTED WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

It was the first game played on the future Taylor Field site, which was then known as Park Hughes. Admission was 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for juniors. The Regina Rugby Club had spent the 1919 and 1920 seasons playing on the exhibition grounds before scheduling its 1921 games for the new Park Hughes. However, the RRC was forced to play an exhibition game and its 1921 regular-season home opener at the RCMP barracks due to muddy 1922 aerial photo showing conditions at Park Hughes and the exhibition grounds. Park Hughes (soccer field, left) Park Hughes was finally playable for the landmark and the adjacent Park de Young Oct. 15 contest. Park Hughes remained the home of (baseball diamond, right). the team, which was renamed the Regina Roughriders PR OV I NC I A L A R C H I V E S OF S A S K AT C H E WA N, R -B 8 6 3 1-2 in 1924, for much of the 1920s. In 1928, new turf was installed on an expanse encompassing Park Hughes and the adjacent Park de Young, which was principally a baseball diamond. The Park de Young name applied when the Roughriders played there. The tenancy was short-lived, however, as the Roughriders returned to the exhibition grounds in 1929 and spent seven seasons at that venue. In 1936, they returned to Park de Young and remained at that location for 80 years.

WHO DID WHAT?

Brian Timmis scored three of his side’s four touchdowns. “The same prowess which he has made manifest in previous games was apparent in this contest,” The Morning Leader reported. “He ripped through the line, skirted the ends and passed the ball with abandon.” Regina’s other key players were Jack Rowand (who had a 47-yard scoring run) and Fred Wilson (two field goals). Toney Townshend had a 40-yard run for the Spunk Sparrow-coached Moose Jaw crew. Coincidentally, the game was refereed by Piffles Taylor, after whom the facility would be named in 1947.

WHAT WAS SAID? ■ “Outside of the kicking … the game could not be said to have been good football. Fumbles were frequent and the passing was poor.’’ — The Morning Leader. ■ “The weather was ideal for rugby football. The air was just keen enough to fill the players with energy and it was not uncomfortable for the spectators.” — The Morning Leader.

Brian Timmis. C A NA DI A N F O O T B A L L H A L L OF FA M E

3

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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top 10 games

THE LITTLE MIRACLE OF TAYLOR FIELD DATE: SCORE:

NOV. 11, 1963 SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS 39 CALGARY STAMPEDERS 12 ATTENDANCE: 12,902 WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

It was the grandest of all comebacks by the Roughriders, who on Nov. 9, 1963, had lost 35-9 in Calgary in the opener of a two-game, total-points Western Conference semifinal. Needing to win by 27 points to advance to the division final, the Roughriders did precisely that — to the astonishment of thousands of fans who did not show up for the beginning of what they presumed would be an obligatory game. Saskatchewan enjoyed a torrid start, however, and Taylor Field quickly became the place to be. Fans at the stadium could see a stream of cars heading to the facility. As it turned out, the Roughriders won by the requisite 27 points — 39-12 — after a frantic final play. It was one of the first of many classic comebacks for quarterback Ron Lancaster, who would become a Roughriders icon — as would George Reed, who scored the winning touchdown on Nov. 11, 1963.

WHO DID WHAT?

Lancaster threw for 492 yards — then a Western Conference single-game record — and five touchdowns. The first scoring toss was on Saskatchewan’s second offensive play, when Lancaster found Ray Purdin for a 76yard major. The Riders called a sleeper play (since outlawed) and Purdin was virtually unnoticed near the sideline until Lancaster accepted the snap and fired the ball toward the fleet receiver. The Riders were rolling and eventually went up 48-47 in the two-game set. It eventually came down to a last-second, 35-yard field-goal attempt by Calgary’s Larry Robinson. He was just wide on the kick, which was retrieved in the end zone by Saskatchewan’s Gene Wlasiuk. In an attempt to avert a series-tying single, Wlasiuk punted the ball out of the end zone. Robinson fielded Wlasiuk’s boot on the Riders’ 40-yard line and, in the face of pressure, attempted to punt the ball back into the end zone. However, the ball sailed out of bounds at the 25-yard line, and the Riders and their fans rejoiced. The game was quickly dubbed “The Little Miracle of Taylor Field,” and the label has stuck.

Ron Lancaster. R E GI NA L E A DE RPOST FILES

2

WHAT WAS SAID?

■ “It was just too much!” — John Robertson, Regina Leader-Post.

■ “It was quite a scene, because everybody thought we had done the impossible.’’ — George Reed, 50 years later.

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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2013 GREY CUP

top 10 games

DATE: SCORE:

NOV. 24, 2013 SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS 45 HAMILTON TIGER-CATS 23 ATTENDANCE: 44,710 WHY WAS IT SPECIAL?

The Roughriders seized their final opportunity to win a home-field Grey Cup game, assuming a 31-6 halftime lead over Hamilton and inciting a party that endured long after the final gun as fans celebrated on Albert Street along the Green Mile. There was a touch of Hollywood — Tom Hanks and Martin Short were there — and a sense of redemption, only four years after Saskatchewan had endured the infamous “13th man” meltdown. In 2013, at long last, Saskatchewan won its fourth title, having previously captured the CFL title in 1966, 1989 and 2007. Roughriders tailback Kory Sheets was named the game’s most valuable player after rushing for a Grey Cup-record 197 yards and two touchdowns. Darian Durant threw three touchdown passes for Saskatchewan, giving him eight in three 2013 post-season games. The first two scoring tosses were to 38-yearold slotback Geroy Simon, a future Hall of Famer who was playing what turned out to be the final game of his illustrious CFL career. Durant also collaborated with Weston Dressler for a major. Defensively, John Chick led the Roughriders with two quarterback sacks. Regina-born Saskatchewan slotback Chris Getzlaf was named the game’s most outstanding Canadian after catching three passes for 78 yards.

WHAT WAS SAID? ■ “It’s a Cinderella story.” — Getzlaf. ■ “Being able to do it at home — at home! — is just unreal.’’ — Regina-born Roughriders fullback Neal Hughes. ■ “For my first cigar, it’s the best in the world. I don’t care what it tastes like. I’ve coughed a couple of times and I’ve drank some champagne and I’ve been waiting to do this all year. I’ve put in all of the work. I’m the first man in every day. Get the monkey off my back. Please, please!’’ — Durant. ■ “Oh, it’s great for the team, great for the province. It’s good for the league. We want every team to be strong and successful — and Saskatchewan certainly is a shining light in that regard.” — Hamilton head coach

Kent Austin, a former Roughriders quarterback and head coach.

T ROY FL EE CE / R E GI NA LEAD ER -P OS T

WHO DID WHAT?

1 Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

63


stadiumstories

HEROES

The

of my second home

As a fan and as a reporter, Rob Vanstone has spent a lifetime — and a little bit more — marvelling at the football heroes who have played at Regina’s historic stadium

The view from Rob Vanstone’s seat — Section 10, Row 10, Seat 10 — at the Roughriders’ 1976 Labour Day game versus the B.C. Lions. Ron Lancaster, wearing No. 23 on the left, is shown throwing a pass for Saskatchewan. PHO T O : G . H E L E N VA N S T ON E -M AT H E R

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Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

R O B VA N S T O N E


Joey Walters makes a one-handed touchdown catch in 1982. s a s k at o on s ta r phoe n i x files

I

was born in 1964. I first visited Taylor Field in 1963. It is a line that, admittedly, I have used far too much over the years. But it does underline the fact that I have spent a lifetime — and a little bit more — attending Saskatchewan Roughriders home games. The aforementioned 1963 game took place on Nov. 11, when Helen Vanstone was expecting her first child but not a Roughriders victory. After all, Saskatchewan had lost 35-9 to the host Calgary Stampeders to open a two-game, total-points Western Conference semifinal. Therefore, the Roughriders needed to win by at least 27 points to advance to the second round of the 1963 CFL playoffs. Only a few thousand diehards occupied Taylor Field when the game began. However, a scorching start by the home side sparked interest in what was supposedly an obligatory contest. By halftime, fans were streaming into the stadium. When the final gun sounded, they were running on to the field — the Roughriders having won by the requisite 27 points (39-12). The classic contest was quickly dubbed “The Little Miracle of Taylor Field.” And I am proud to say I was there, although the recollections are a little murky.

Ditto for my first memory of actually watching the Roughriders. It would have been in the late 1960s. I recall that Mom and I had seats behind the south end zone. I kept looking at the uprights and wondering what they were for. And I kept asking for food. (That much has not changed.) By 1970, I had some comprehension of the CFL — being that recess at Massey School was usually spent trading football cards. It seemed like everyone had secured a Ron Lancaster and George Reed card before I did. Even then, I had mastered the fine art of not being cool. Regardless, I was hooked. I wanted to visit Taylor Field more frequently and see the players whose images appeared on cardboard. I also wanted to check out the uprights, having become familiar with their purpose. But, all these years later, any game before Aug. 27, 1971 remains a blur. That evening, future Hall of Fame defensive lineman Ed McQuarters made a remarkable return to the Roughriders’ lineup, only a few months after losing an eye in a construction accident. Being part of the standing ovation that McQuarters deservedly received is my first vivid Taylor Field memory. For the record, Saskatchewan defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders, 42-21. Under no circumstances was the Green and White going to lose that game. u Field of Green | october 2016

65


stadiumstories

Legendary defensive lineman Ed McQuarters in the 1970s, left, and in 2006. R E GI NA L E A DE R POST FILES

THAT EVENING [AUG. 27, 1971], FUTURE HALL OF FAME DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ED MCQUARTERS MADE A REMARKABLE RETURN TO THE ROUGHRIDERS’ LINEUP, ONLY A FEW MONTHS AFTER LOSING AN EYE IN A CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT. BEING PART OF THE STANDING OVATION THAT MCQUARTERS DESERVEDLY RECEIVED IS MY FIRST VIVID TAYLOR FIELD MEMORY.

66

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

There has never been one quite like it — and that is saying something, when you consider everything that has transpired over 80 uninterrupted years on the Park de Young/Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium site. The creaky, leaky old stadium became a second home in ways that I could not imagine as an awestruck seven-year-old at the 1971 game. Many a night has been spent watching the stars of the Regina Intercollegiate Football League and enjoying more hamburgers than I should have consumed. The concession was always inviting but, really, the culinary options are not diverse when you cover a high school football tripleheader that begins at 3:30 in the afternoon and consumes most of the evening. For some reason, the tripleheaders never dragged on. I was always surrounded by friendly, funny people, and I was being paid to use Taylor Field as a temporary office. Oh, and there was also the time that I played on Taylor Field. The mighty Jackals (the future Paperboyz) advanced to the 1989 Regina Aerial Touch Football League final against the Broncos. I should inform you that the Jackals erupted for 30 points while holding the Broncos to 53.

I also had a turf burn, of which I was excessively proud. It was a souvenir of actually playing on the very same field as (pick one) Ronnie, George, Glenn Dobbs, Frank Tripucka, Ron Atchison, Hugh Campbell, Bill Baker, Rhett Dawson, Roger Aldag, Ray Elgaard, Bobby Jurasin, Joey Walters, Dave Ridgway, et al. At 52, I am old enough to have seen most of those players in person. One of the exceptions is Campbell — the legendary Gluey Hughie — and it always bugged me. I was a little too young to remember his playing career, which was far too short. Yet, Campbell is a central figure in one of my favourite Taylor Field memories. Leading up to the 2003 Grey Cup game, in which the Edmonton Eskimos were to oppose the Montreal Alouettes, I had my annual brainstorm. Taylor Field’s north end zone used to be known as Hughie’s Haven. So, I wondered, would Hughie be kind enough to give me a tour? At the time, Campbell was the Eskimos’ president, so I asked the team’s extraordinary media-relations person (Dave Jamieson) if it would be possible to arrange an unconventional interview. I got my answer the following day: “Hughie says he’ll do it.” For 20 minutes, we walked around the Haven and, suddenly, I was experiencing


LEFT: Hugh Campbell revisits “Hughie’s Haven” in 2003. below: Baltimore Stallions fans celebrate a 1995 Grey Cup victory at Taylor Field. pho t o s : r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t f i l e s

the 1960s. He walked a few pass routes and I could almost see Lancaster, The Little General, throwing the ball in the direction of No. 31. Gluey Hughie was so into the interview that he even slid down a chain-link fence to offer me a not-so-instant replay of one spectacular touchdown catch. Afterwards, he thanked ME for the interview. Imagine that. Eight years earlier, a Grey Cup game had been played on Taylor Field for the first time. The Baltimore Stallions defeated Calgary, 37-20, and I have never been so relieved to see the clock strike 0:00. It was freezing, thanks to a biting wind. The chilly conditions were unavoidable, being that my assignment for the day was to roam the stands on behalf of the Regina Leader-Post. Towering temporary bleachers had been erected behind the south end zone so, of course, I felt a professional obligation to climb to the top and assess the worst seat in the house. My lungs were burning by the time I reached row 50-something. The rest of me was an icicle. I tried to document the experience by taking notes, but my pen was frozen. I actually scratched out some notes, which proved to be illegible, before making a descent — and getting stuck. There was a bottleneck of humanity

at the bottom of the bleachers. I stood in one spot, seemingly forever, and prepared to bid farewell to some of my favourite toes. Relievedly, I found a hole — which could not be said of some Roughriders tailbacks during back-to-back 2-14 seasons — and made it to ground level. There was only one problem: Nobody was moving. The only option was to crawl underneath the bleachers to freedom. I was only a few first downs away from the spot where, once upon a time, I obliviously stared at the goal posts and wondered why they were there. Having just thawed out a few minutes ago, I still marvel at the fact that little ol’ Regina pulled off a little miracle in 1995 — staging a phenomenally successful Grey Cup festival and silencing the skeptics in the process. That said, nothing seems as surreal as the events of Nov. 24, 2013. The Roughriders won their first Grey Cup title when I was two. They would have to wait precisely 23 years for a second title. Between championships, I had resigned myself to the fact that Saskatchewan

would never win a Grey Cup that I could witness. There would always be a Tony Gabriel game (or two) or yet another loss to Edmonton in a West final. And there would always be discussions about the lone Grey Cup victory, in 1966. Fast forward to 2016. Saskatchewan now boasts four championships, the most recent of which was celebrated nearly three years ago on Taylor Field. (Yet again, I have written “on Taylor Field” instead of “at Mosaic Stadium.” Technically, the playing surface is still known as Taylor Field, so I will cling to that one.) Roughly 1,000 days have elapsed and I still cannot completely process the events of 11/24/13. When I woke up that morning, I had no idea that I would end up interviewing a very nice ordinary superstar named Tom Hanks. Word had leaked out early in the day that the 101st Grey Cup would be graced by a touch of Hollywood, with the notables being Hanks and Martin Short. u Field of Green | october 2016

67


stadiumstories LEFT: Tom Hanks at the 2013 Grey Cup game. d on h e a ly / r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t

below: Ray Elgaard squelches would-be tacklers in 1993. b rya n s c h l o s s e r / r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t

Fortuitously, I had been asked to appear on TSN’s pre-game show. The TSN booth was to be Hanks’ first destination after arriving at the stadium, so I hung around — with the permission of Brian Williams — and ambushed the former Forrest Gump after he had fulfilled his television obligations. I nervously asked Hanks for an interview. He smiled and replied, “Yeah, sure,” and only then did it occur to me that I had not formulated a question. I had been fixated on location, location, location, and that part of the process was successful. I spluttered a couple of questions, which were answered courteously and with good humour. Then I faced the afternoon’s biggest challenge: How do I get the video camera back to the office? A runner was dispatched to the stadium and the treasured video was soon uploaded. Only then did I ascend to the press box — woefully behind on my administrative tasks due to the unexpected bonanza of a celebrity interview — and discovered that I would soon be powerless. Ever the big-game performer, I had left the power cord to my computer at the office. So another runner was sent to the stadium. Before too long, my computer and the

68   Field of Green | october 2016

crowd were electrified. The Roughriders jumped to a 31-6 halftime lead en route to registering a landmark, 45-23 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Recognizing the magnitude of the occasion, I buried my nose in the computer when it became mathematically impossible for Hamilton to mount a comeback. I did look up in time to see Darian Durant connect with Weston Dressler for Saskatchewan’s final touchdown. Then it was back to typing, typing, typing ... When I finally came up for air, the column having been filed, I looked around and took stock of what I had (and had not) witnessed. Unimaginably, I had seen the Roughriders win a Grey Cup at home — in their last opportunity to accomplish that feat at the original Mosaic Stadium. I had also missed a once-in-a-lifetime party. I could see people celebrating along the Green Mile. Back at the stadium, there was confetti all over the field, but the place was virtually vacant. A few people were walking around the field, in the midst of a post-Grey Cup tear-down. Only then could I sit back and take stock of it all — 50 years and 13 days after “The Little Miracle of Taylor Field.” Now I am attempting to digest another

notion that was once incomprehensible. Very soon, Taylor Field will be the former home of the Roughriders. Leading up to the final regular-season game at Piffles Taylor’s playground, it is impossible not to become nostalgic. The mind wanders while appreciating another Lancaster comeback, another record by Reed and another game-winning field goal by Ridgway (a.k.a. Robokicker). There are flashbacks of gravity-defying catches by Walters, would-be tacklers being trampled by Elgaard, quarterbacks being flattened by Baker and Jurasin and even Lyall Woznesensky (who brought us the patented Woz-tusi sack dance), Jeff Fairholm running away from everyone, Kerry Joseph scoring on a quarterback draw and, well, I could go on forever. I wish that the same could be said of Taylor Field. At the same time, I understand and appreciate that there is a time for transition and a need for progress. Reed has joked that Taylor Field was past its prime when he played, and he has a point. The new Mosaic Stadium is equipped with amenities that nobody has been able to enjoy at Taylor Field. Cup-holders. Who knew? Grey Cup-holders? We’ll see … rvanstone@postmedia.com twitter.com/robvanstone


mosaicmemories

I remember being on the field and just taking it all in, doing a 360 and hearing the crowd as the clock ticked down. You couldn’t help but feel the emotion from field level of what it means to this organization and more importantly to our fans. craig reynolds

shaky start for future riders boss

T

he first game Craig Reynolds remembers seeing played on Taylor Field may have been the worst game Glen Suitor played on Taylor Field. Reynolds — a Foam Lake product who’s now the president and chief executive officer of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders — recalls that his introduction to what is now Mosaic Stadium occurred on Sept. 30, 1989. The Roughriders appeared to have a victory over the B.C. Lions locked up that night, but Saskatchewan gave it away in the last minute. With five seconds left in regulation time, the Lions scrimmaged at Saskatchewan’s 53-yard line. Quarterback Matt Dunigan threw a desperation pass downfield, but the ball wasn’t going to reach the Roughriders’ end zone. However, Suitor — Saskatchewan’s veteran safety — hit Lions receiver David Williams moments before the ball arrived.

i a n h a m i lt o n

The pass-interference call gave the Lions a first down at the 18-yard line. Roughriders cornerback Albert Brown was penalized for pass interference in the end zone on the next play, giving B.C. a first down at the one. Dunigan’s touchdown on the subsequent play gave the Lions an improbable victory — and gave most of the patrons a lasting if unpleasant memory. “As a kid,” Reynolds recalls 27 years later, “you remember the language of the fans.” Did any of that language come from a certain 13-year-old? “I was too young,” Reynolds replies with a chuckle. “But I’m not sure what my dad said.” Reynolds went to other games as he grew up, but his career eventually took him away from Saskatchewan. He returned in June of 2009, when he was hired to be the Roughriders’ chief financial officer.

Craig Reynolds announces the Farewell Season last December.

In that job, Reynolds started to see the stadium’s shortcomings — the flaws he didn’t necessarily see as a fan. “Once you start working with the organization and see a little bit more behind the scenes and spend more time at the stadium — not just once every few weeks but when you’re consistently there — you see the challenges that the old stadium has,” Reynolds says. “As great as the atmosphere can be there, (the facility) just lacks modern amenities. “It’s got great energy because our fans bring great energy, not because it has a great fan experience inherent in it.” As the CFO, Reynolds was involved in the conversations about replacing Mosaic Stadium with a new building. The Roughriders will move into Mosaic Stadium 2.0 in 2017, and its predecessor will be decommissioned. Reynolds was named the Roughriders’ president-CEO in March of 2015, so he’ll be at the helm when the team moves into its new home. He’ll leave the old place with some unpleasant memories (the aforementioned B.C. game, as well as some home-field losses early in the dreadful 2015 season) but also some good ones. He still savours the celebration after his first win as president-CEO (the 2015 Labour Day Classic) and the festivities following Saskatchewan’s Grey Cup victory on home turf in 2013. “It’s hard to top that,” Reynolds says of the title game. “I remember being on the field and just taking it all in, doing a 360 and hearing the crowd as the clock ticked down. You couldn’t help but feel the emotion from field level of what it meant to this organization and more importantly to our fans.”

b rya n s c h l o s s e r / r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t Field of Green | october 2016

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IT WAS CERTAINLY UNEXPECTED, BUT THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE THAT HAD ACTUALLY BRAVED THE COLD TO WELCOME US BACK HOME WAS ALMOST INCOMPREHENSIBLE. D AV E R I D G W AY

BRYAN SC HL OS SER / RE G INA L EADER- POST

mosaicmemories

RIDGWAY RECALLS WIND AND ’89 WIN RO B VA N S T O N E

D

ave Ridgway quickly got wind of the interesting weather conditions at Taylor Field. “I recall walking out on the turf the first time, shortly after arriving in Regina as a rookie in May of 1982, and it was a very windy early spring day,” the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Hall of Fame placekicker recalls. “I remember talking to myself as I stood somewhere on the opposite side of the 55-yard line and I concluded that 50-yarders weren’t going to be a problem with the wind at my back. “But then I turned around and faced the wind and said to myself, ‘Yikes, 30-yarders will be a challenge going into it.’ I eventually calmed down by telling myself that I was sure a wind like this was an anomaly and I likely wouldn’t experience a wind like this ever again in Saskatchewan.” It was rare to experience a win during the early days of Ridgway’s time with the Roughriders. He was with the team during an 11-year playoff drought that concluded in 1988. The team went one step further the following year, defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 43-40 in the 1989 Grey Cup game — in which Ridgway kicked the game-winning field goal with two seconds left in the fourth quarter at Toronto’s

then-SkyDome. “I think most of us expected some kind of reception at the airport — you know, a few hundred fans and a little brass band, but there was nothing except for the commissionaire that always patrols the airport,” Ridgway says. “Instead of our wives being there to pick us up, we were told as we were collecting our bags that they would be meeting us in the President’s Lounge at the stadium, where wives and family always waited for players when we played home games. So we all boarded the bus and headed for Taylor Field. “As we approached the stadium we could see that the lights were on, and we could see a few cars in the parking lot, but they parked the bus close to the ticket office door and we just exited right into the stadium offices.” Ridgway’s welcoming committee included his then-14-month-old son, Christopher. The players were then told that they were to line up in what would ordinarily be the visiting players’ tunnel in order that they could be introduced. The lineup included veteran offensive linemen Bob Poley and Roger Aldag, who were to be the last two players introduced — along with the Grey Cup. Ridgway was to be introduced right

before Poley and Aldag. For the occasion, Ridgway decided to carry Christopher onto the field, so the little boy was bundled up on a chilly evening. “As the players ahead of us were being introduced, you could hear cheering from the tunnel, but since all the fans were sitting on the one side of the stadium, the home side, it was tough to gauge if there were a few hundred or a few thousand in attendance,’’ Ridgway says. “Finally, when I was introduced, I understood why they had wanted to bring us down to the stadium for the hometown greeting. There was a very flattering roar as I walked out of the tunnel. In fact, it made my son’s head snap around as he looked up at where all the noise was coming from. “The roar got even louder as the two Saskatchewan boys who had become the face of the franchise during the ‘80s walked out, carrying the Grey Cup trophy. It was deafening. “It was certainly unexpected, but the amount of people that had actually braved the cold to welcome us back home was almost incomprehensible. They said there were over 17,000 people there to cheer us on, and it was a very nice ‘thank you’ to the players from a fan base that had waited a pretty long time to celebrate only their second Grey Cup title.” Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories

home runs hash marks ro b va n s t o n e

T

Blue Jays slugger George Bell signs autographs at Taylor Field in 1989. r e g i na l e a de r -p o s t f i l e s

72   Field of Green | october 2016

rivia question: Where did Jimy Williams win his final game as the Toronto Blue Jays’ manager? Regina. On May 11, 1989, Williams managed the Blue Jays to an 8-7, seven-inning exhibition victory over the National Baseball Institute Blues before 25,676 spectators at Taylor Field. The game was played during a one-day hiatus in the Blue Jays’ American League schedule. Three consecutive losses ensued, after which Williams was fired as the Blue Jays’ skipper. Part of a day spent in Regina wasn’t exactly a treat, either. The game against the NBI was delayed 39 minutes by rain. Williams decided to use that time advantageously, conducting an impromptu coaching clinic during the downpour. He also encouraged his players to interact with the rain-soaked crowd. “This is as close as most of these people will ever get to a major-league game,” Williams commented within earshot of the Regina LeaderPost’s Darrell Davis. The crowd lapped it up, despite the inclement conditions. “When it was raining, I thought, ‘Great, we’re going to sit here, get soaked, and those guys (will) go home,” Saskatoon’s Laura Sokalofsky told Murray McCormick of the Leader-Post. “I thought it was very nice that the Blue Jays played rather than packing up and going home. u


Known for football, Taylor Field also hosted the Toronto Blue Jays for two baseball games — and plenty of offensive fireworks, given the makeshift ballpark’s 300-foot left-field fence

Minor baseball players were part of the opening ceremonies when the Blue Jays visited Regina on May 11, 1989. r e g i na l e a de r -p o s t f i l e s

Field of Green | october 2016

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stadiumstories LEFT: The Blue Jays were defending World Series champions when they visited Regina on May 3, 1993. RIGHT: A National Baseball Institute Blues pitch comes close to hitting a batter during the Blue Jays’ 1993 appearance in Regina. pho t o s : r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t files

“I’ve been a Blue Jays fan for years but, after what they did tonight, I’ll be one forever.” Back then, the Blue Jays typically played one exhibition game per year in a Canadian centre. “I personally enjoy it,” Pat Gillick, who was then the Blue Jays’ executive vice-president, told McCormick. “But you have to realize for a lot of the guys this is a day off and they would like to spend it with their families. “But we feel we have a commitment to amateur baseball and the fans across Canada. We’ve got a lot of fans because of radio and television and it’s good to get a chance to get out with them.” Members of the National Baseball Institute, which was based in Surrey, B.C., and existed for the purpose of developing elite Canadian players, appreciated the opportunity to play against the likes of Tony Fernandez, George Bell, Tom Henke and David Wells. “It’s something to play in front of 26,000 people,” NBI coach John Haar said after the game. “We’re used to playing in front of about 26.”

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Nobody was used to a stadium such as Taylor Field. Once a multi-purpose facility, various expansions had prevented it from accommodating a conventional baseball field. For example, the left-field fence was considerably less than 300 feet away from home plate — to the delight of those who participated in the pre-game home-run-hitting contest. A team led by Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine had 10 homers, twice as many as those produced by Blue Jays catcher Pat Borders and friends. Devine helped his team’s cause by hitting one of the home runs. A subsequent visit by the Blue Jays was also a big hit. They returned as defending World Series champions on May 3, 1993, and defeated the NBI 16-6 before 26,213 onlookers. Once again, the left-field porch was inviting for the hitters. Sluggers from both teams combined for 12 homers. Toronto’s Darnell Coles led the way with three round-trippers. u


it’s just something to be able to play [the blue jays]. these are the guys you see on tv, the devon whites and robbie alomars. we’re standing next to them and playing catch with them. k e n t o r r a n c e , L e f t - F i e l d e r, N B I B l u e s

Tony Castillo of the Blue Jays releases a pitch at Taylor Field in 1993.

r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t f i l e s

“Today, I hit some home runs,” Coles told the Leader-Post’s Ian Hamilton. “Actually, a lot of people hit home runs. I was just one of them.” Coles was then asked how many homers he could hit if the Blue Jays played all 81 home games at Taylor Field. “I’ve got to believe a couple hundred might be on the horizon,” Coles responded. As was the case in 1989, the Blues appreciated the opportunity to oppose the Blue Jays. “It’s just something to be able to play them,” left-fielder Ken Torrance told Hamilton. “These are the guys you see on TV, the Devon Whites and Robbie Alomars. We’re standing next to them and playing catch with them. “It’s just something.” The visit by the 1993 Blue Jays was especially noteworthy given the magnitude of that season. On Oct. 23 of that year, a walkoff, three-run home run by Joe Carter — who did not make the trip to Regina — gave the Blue Jays an 8-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies … and a second consecutive World Series championship. rvanstone@postmedia.com twitter.com/robvanstone

Field of Green | october 2016

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stadiumstories

‘All man and a prince of N a fellow’ r o b va n s t o n e

First World War pilot, P.O.W., player and rugby executive Neil Joseph (Piffles) Taylor gave much to his community — and his name to a stadium

FACING PAGE: Neil J. (Piffles) Taylor. r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t f i l e s

76   Field of Green | october 2016

eil Joseph (Piffles) Taylor’s devotion to football was such that not even the loss of an eye could prevent him from playing the game. “My favourite story about my grandfather was when he was tackled rather severely and his glass eye popped out on the field,” Taylor’s granddaughter, Judith Milliken, told the Regina Leader-Post in 2006. “This was long before the days of Astroturf. As you can imagine, it took him about five minutes to find his eye on the field, and he popped it back in and continued to play. So he was one tough fellow.” And someone whose passion for the sport and the city of Regina contributed to the naming of a stadium in his honour. The ceremony took place on Sept. 6, 1947, when Park de Young was renamed Taylor Field. Taylor had died suddenly in his sleep on May 24, 1947, at age 52. The Taylor Field name continued to adorn the stadium until June of 2006, when the facility was renamed Mosaic Stadium. The change took place after The Mosaic Company made a $10-year, $3.75-million naming-rights deal, with all proceeds going to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Regina city council had previously approved the financial arrangement and the re-naming. Even then, the playing surface itself continued to be named Taylor Field, with the Mosaic label applying to the rest of the venue. As well, the address of the stadium was changed to 1910 Piffles Taylor Way. The “1910” references the year in which the Regina Rugby Club was founded. u


MY FAVOURITE STORY ABOUT MY GRANDFATHER WAS WHEN HE WAS TACKLED RATHER SEVERELY AND HIS GLASS EYE POPPED OUT ON THE FIELD. IT TOOK HIM ABOUT FIVE MINUTES TO FIND HIS EYE ON THE FIELD, AND HE POPPED IT BACK IN AND CONTINUED TO PLAY. SO HE WAS ONE TOUGH FELLOW. J U D I T H M I L L I K E N , g r a n d d a u g h t e r o f P i f f l e s Ta y l o r

Field of Green | OCTOBER 2016

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stadiumstories RIGHT: Piffles Taylor’s career took him from Regina’s rugby fields to Europe’s war-torn skies, and back again. In this undated photo, an Allied Word War One aircraft flies over the trenches in France. Pho t o c ou r t e s y De pa r t m e n t of Nat iona l De f e nc e A rchi ves

in those days, when you thought someone was full of it, you’d say, ‘ahhh, piffles!’ he started using that when he was in law school, and it just stuck. piffles became a name that he was known by by his friends and eventually by all his family. s a m tay lo r , g r a n d s o n o f P i f f l e s Ta y l o r

The Taylor name is still conspicuous outside Mosaic Stadium. d on h e a ly / r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t

78   Field of Green | october 2016


Taylor, who was born in 1895 and moved with his family to Yellow Grass in 1899, played for the Regina Rugby Club before and after serving with the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War. He lost his right eye in 1917 when his airplane was shot down during a raid behind German lines; he subsequently spent a year as a prisoner of war. Upon returning to Canada, he rejoined the Regina Rugby Club and was a member of that team in 1919 and 1920, undeterred by the loss of an eye. The glass eye popped out, as referenced earlier, during a 1919 game in Calgary. “He suddenly halted the game and ordered everyone to stay back,” the LeaderPost’s Dave Dryburgh wrote in a tribute to Taylor. “He went to his knees, searched the ground and came up with what he sought. “It was his glass eye … which had been jarred loose by a terrific tackle. He put it

back where it belonged, called time in and started barking signals and trading tackles with fellows twice his size again.” Before and after the war, Taylor — also a talented lacrosse player — attended law school at the University of Toronto’s Osgoode Hall. He was a practising lawyer in Regina in the 1920s. Subsequently, he was the president of the Regina Roughriders, the Western Interprovincial Football Union and the Canadian Rugby Union. Taylor managed the Drake Hotel and the Broder Financial Agency. He served on Regina city council for five years. He was involved in various civic and sporting endeavours at the time of his death. Art Chipman, president of the Winnipeg Rugby Football Club, remembered Taylor as someone who had “always been the backbone of football in the west.”

Dryburgh added: “Piff Taylor was all man and a prince of a fellow.” The “Piff” or “Piffles” label typically applied, even though his correspondence was signed “N.J. Taylor.” “It’s an expletive he used,” grandson Sam Taylor explained in 2006. “In those days, when you thought someone was full of it, you’d say, ‘Ahhh, piffles!’ “It’s dated. It’s from that period. I was told that he started using that when he was in law school in Toronto around 1914 or 1915, and it just stuck. “Piffles became a name that he was known by by his friends and eventually by all his family. To us, we would always refer to him as Grandpa Piff.” Taylor was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1963), the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (1987) and the Roughriders’ Plaza of Honor (1993). Field of Green | october 2016

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mosaicmemories

the seams [at the 45-yard line] were so bad that you couldn’t get the ball to stand up properly when you put the tee down. I kicked off from the 441/2-yard line for my whole high school career.

Jon Ryan, 35, with the Sheldon-Williams Spartans in 1999.

j o n r ya n

r e gi na l e a de r -p o s t files

ryan saw stadium from both sides r o b va n s t o n e

O

ne of Jon Ryan’s most memorable road games was, in effect, a home game. On Sept. 5, 2004, as a rookie punter with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Regina-born Ryan paid his first visit to Taylor Field as a CFLer. “I was a season-ticket holder for the Riders from 1990 until the day I was drafted in 2004,” recalls Ryan, who became an NFLer after two seasons in Winnipeg. “I was true to the green for a long time so coming back there in 2004 and being able to play in that Labour Day game (a 17-4 Bombers victory) was really one of the cooler memories that I have of playing in the CFL.” But his memories of Taylor Field extend back much further. He flashes back to the late 1980s when, along with younger brother Steve, he attended a week-long touch football camp that was held by then-Regina Rams offensive co-ordinator Bernie Schmidt. Eventually, Jon Ryan played on Taylor Field as a member of the SheldonWilliams Spartans and, as an all-purpose

threat, helped his team win the Regina Intercollegiate Football League and Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association 4A titles in 1999. There was only own downside. Taylor Field’s badly worn artificial turf was in its final season in 1999. “It was just about like playing in a parking lot,” Ryan says. “We played there in high school and, growing up, we played touch football there. You knew the lay of the land. You always had to run around the CFL symbol in the middle of the field or else you would slip. It was like ice. “I remember in high school, we were playing Winston Knoll and I broke a punt return. I was totally free and I stepped on that white turf — I think they had that old-school helmet in the middle of the field, with that white bar — and I remember slipping on that. There was no one around me, but I slipped and fell. It was over.” The kickoffs were also an adventure. “In high school, you were supposed to kick off from the 45-yard line,” Ryan says. “The seams were so bad that you couldn’t

get the ball to stand up properly when you put the tee down. I kicked off from the 44½-yard line for my whole high school career.” Ryan proceeded to join the University of Regina Rams, for whom he starred as a receiver and punter from 2000 to 2003. “Playing for the Rams and being able to play in that stadium, it’s a little bit different than some of the guys I play with (in the NFL),” Ryan notes. “They have college memories of playing at the Big House in Michigan or playing between the hedges in Georgia. I have just as fond memories of playing at Taylor Field in front of 3,000 people and 30,000 people dressed up as empty seats as they have of playing at some of those places. There were some pretty great memories.” Ryan treasures the memories — even ones that relate to an abrasive, slippery playing surface. “I think that’s just one more thing that makes Taylor Field its own entity,’’ he concludes. “You can’t have stories like that in any other stadium. It is truly, in my opinion, Saskatchewan-type stuff.” Field of Green | october 2016

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D

mosaic stadium frozen in time

r o b va n s t o n e

Brendan Taman with the Grey Cup in 2013.

troy flee ce / r e gina lea der-post

there were a lot of nights when I was there working and i would just go walk on the turf. the place could talk to you without talking. it sort of had a mystique about it. b r e n d a n ta m a n

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uring a work day at Mosaic Stadium on April 8, 2014, Brendan Taman took time out of his official duties to visit, uh, Mosaic Stadium. On a spring day, he went for a walk around the field and strolled around the stands, which were largely unchanged — except for some puddles, the result of melting snow — over the 136 days that had elapsed since the Saskatchewan Roughriders won the 101st Grey Cup game. There was confetti on the field and litter in the stands — not that Taman, who was then the Roughriders’ general manager, objected to the mess. Mosaic Stadium was like a time capsule, flashing back to Nov. 24, 2013, when the Roughriders defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 in the CFL’s championship game. That Grey Cup game was also the last to be played in the original Mosaic Stadium, which is to close after this season and be replaced by a new facility in 2017. For Taman, memories of the game itself are a blur, but the early-spring tour is recalled with precision. “That was the neatest thing,” recalls Taman, who was the Riders’ GM from 2010 to 2015. “It was like going to back to November. That was the coolest thing I have ever done at that stadium. “I was going to grab anything I could, just to look at it. It was sort of a random, out-of-the-blue thing. That was the best, because it just brought everything back. “It was like turning back the clock and reliving something that was a blur in my mind. Just seeing the fragments of confetti and everything else was the coolest thing I recall.” It was the sweetest of many walks around the stadium for Taman. “There were a lot of nights when I was there working and I would just go walk on the turf,” he says. “The place could talk to you without talking. It sort of had a mystique about it. “When I’d go for a walk, it was time for me to regroup and rewind and sort of think about things. I rarely relaxed, but that was sort of a time when I could relax. If it was windy or something, it was eerie in a way. The security people got to know me. It was pretty cool. “You can’t relax in your office. You can’t relax at home. You can’t relax when you work. But when you walk around that place, you can relax a bit. I didn’t do it a lot — maybe once a week — but it was just a nice place for me to just think without any distractions.” At times, the Saskatoon-born Taman would reflect upon some of his first visits to Taylor Field. “I’d look around and I’d think of coming there as a kid, sitting in the (Rider Rookies section) watching Ronnie (Lancaster) and George (Reed). “Back then, as a kid, you thought, ‘Holy smokes.’ And then 20 or 30 years later, you’re working there. “It’s a special place. There’s no doubt about it.’’


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