By Phil Hecken, with Leo Strawn, Jr.
Last weekend, as a sub-lede under the “Leo’s World” featurette, I ran a fantastic article/research piece from Leo Strawn (linked below) — which really could have been its own lede (and would have been, had it not been for the timely Warner Wolf piece, which was also outstanding). That was merely part one of three.
This weekend, I told Leo if his piece this week was half as good as the last one, it would stand alone as the lede. Let me tell you, he did NOT disappoint. Please enjoy the second of three look-backs Leo is doing on the Canadian Football League — its history, helmets, unis, etc. Here’s Leo with…
Cool and Unusual Helmets and Uniforms from the Great White North…West
By Leo Strawn, Jr.
As the CFL winds down toward the 104th Grey Cup, I wanted to spend some time sharing some (I think) cool and (definitely) unusual Canadian Football uniforms.
This is the second of three Canadian football uniform articles; the first one ran last week.
I want to start off with a couple of updates regarding that piece. Regarding the mono dark blue Argos uniforms, there was a typo that said “In the early 70s…” I meant to type “early 60s”, but even that was wrong. UW reader John H. gave me a head’s up that the photo I initially thought was from 1961 (and I mislabeled as “early 70s”) was actually from 1965. As I continued digging for photos for these last two CFL articles, I discovered he was 100% correct, and as far as I can tell, Toronto wore those during the 1964-66 seasons. Always appreciate people catching typos, duplicated or incorrect links and errors!
Another quick note: I stated last week I hadn’t seen any old mono uniform photos of the Alouettes aside from all white. While researching for this week I discovered two photos from the mid 60s in mono red! We’ll look at the East in part three and next week I’ll share those pics and some info on a couple of great Canadian football photogs whose photos were instrumental in putting this all together.
One more thing before we look to the West: In order to simplify, I decided not to consider franchise histories. It’s just too muddy sometimes. For example, in 1946, the original MontrÃ©al Alouettes joined the IRFU, a.k.a., Big Four, later known as Eastern Football Conference and then CFL East. That franchise folded in May 1982, but the following day was resurrected by a new owner under the name MontrÃ©al Concordes. By 1986, they were again known as the MontrÃ©al Alouettes before again folding in 1987, just prior to the CFL regular season. After a foray into the USA began in 1993, the Baltimore Colts were born in CFL for the 1994 season. The NFL objected and filed suit against them because there had been an AAFC team named the Baltimore Colts that became the original NFL Baltimore Colts who then moved to Dallas to become the Texans, not to be confused with the Dallas Texans of the AFL, followed by a second NFL Baltimore Colts franchise who had, by the time of the CFL expansion, moved to Indianapolis. Thus, that CFL team originally known as the Baltimore Colts soon became the Baltimore Stallions, then moved to MontrÃ©al to become the current and third incarnation of the Alouettes…
So, yeah, I’ll just use locations and team names and simply ignore which franchise incarnation is which.
And, because it’s Canadian Football, I’m going to skip the whole CFL USA thing. Besides, none of their uniforms were really very appealing, in my humble opinion, but I will quickly note before moving on that there were some unique jersey designs.
Here we go, starting with the western locations, which are, oddly enough, alphabetical if you go from west to east by each team’s location/name:
British Columbia: Lots of notable imagery for BC. The Lions have had some of the best helmets of the West, as well as one that may rank as the worst, in my opinion. In their second season, 1955, they went with some widely spaced helmet stripes. After the era of those awesome mono orange uniforms from the 1950s, the 1960s started out with helmets I would like, if not for a certain team north of Columbus.
The rest of the Joe Kapp era also had a pretty cool look. They have thrown back to this helmet numerous times over the past several years with a number of different variations on that theme (including a few I have yet to find photos of…anyone?).
BC may have used their paw logo before anyone else in football wore anything similar. I like the sleeves on these jerseys. The Leos sported great sleeves again after changing jerseys which they combined with a unique helmet design in 1971. Those helmets coincided with British Columbia’s Canadian Confederation Centennial, thus the 3 Cs on the logo which surrounded a Pacific dogwood flower.
Just prior to and after that season, however, they wore what always looked to me like a hand-drawn high school logo. I think this is one of the worst logos in the history of pro football. They eventually modified the concept, though I like it much better on white than silver. They also wore that logo on orange shells, though I haven’t seen a game photo of that one. Anyone? 2016 saw a further modification of that lion image but without the lettering, and this has quickly become one of my favorite CFL looks of all time.
Calgary: I have a soft spot in my heart for the classic red Stampeders helmet for one simple reason and that’s because Calgary is the only large Canadian city I have ever visited. I was there in 1995. If you’ve ever heard of the Molson Ice Polar Beach Party, I was one of the winners from the USA (yes, we met Metallica!) and the city we all flew into, before moving on to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, was Calgary. While there, I purchased a refrigerator magnet of that helmet (which sadly has disappeared and I have no idea where it went).
There is nothing really notable otherwise about that helmet to me personally, but the Stamps have had some unusual helmets and a helmet with another logo familiar in the States. As I pointed out last week, the 1948 Grey Cup champions had some cool mono red unis with some odd leather lids. They reportedly wore a horseshoe Ã la NFL’s then-Baltimore Colts in 1960-61, but I have yet to find a game photo of 1960 or 1961. Anyone?
A few years later, they began using the running horse logo I mentioned at the beginning of this section, which they still use and is identical to the SMU Mustangs. According to Chris Creamer’s site, the Stamps use of this logo (starting in 1968) began after SMU first used the logo. Aside from a couple of one-off helmets (another one I haven’t located a photo of…anyone?), Calgary’s helmets have featured this logo for around half a century, with various shell colours, striping and even a gradient.
And, this is odd: If you’ve seen or collected Canadian football cards from the late 50s and early 60s, you may have mistakenly thought the Stamps wore green for part of their history. They did not. Topps colourized the uniforms in the photos green for some reason. (See Saskatchewan, below.)
Edmonton: If you like this team, you probably like the classic
Green Bay Packers Edmonton Eskimos look that they have not strayed far from during the past (roughly) 50 years. Prior to that, the Esks wore golden domes, plain and with the EE logo.
They have worn yellow jerseys on occasion. Green helmets, too, along with some alternate helmets including the green ones Edmonton wore with the recent signature series uniforms. As mentioned last week, in the 1920s, they wore the nickname on front, in singular, on these (presumably) mono green uniforms with some cool striped socks.
Saskatchewan: Once known as the Regina Roughriders, the team decided to represent the entire province of Saskatchewan with a name change around 1950. Looking at their uniforms from the 1930s with contrasting shoulders they certainly don’t appear to have been green and white. There is some speculation they used the same colour scheme as Ottawa (you can see the logo on the sweater worn by the man on the left in this team photo of the Regina Roughriders from 1934) and apparently the 1910 Regina Rugby Club used those colours, as Saskatchewan wore to commemorate their 100th anniversary.
Nevertheless, they did not wear red during the late 50s and early 60s as Topps showed on their cards. (That faux pas must have been frustrating for fans of both the Stampeders and the Roughriders.)
The green Riders have had some very cool and unique helmets over the years. I always loved these for the same reason I’ve always liked the Seahawks and the USFL Jacksonville Bulls. Why not use the back of the helmet?
Then there’s that oddly weighted S they used from the mid 60s through the mid 80s. 1965 saw a special helmet with a logo to commemorate the province’s diamond jubilee and in ’09 fans in Riderville got a glimpse of an early Saskatchewan logo on the team’s helmet. More recently, though I hate these uniforms, I have to say I really like this helmet. And that’s not the only instance of double green the Roughriders have worn in their history.
Winnipeg: In the 1962 Grey Cup, a.k.a. the Fog Bowl, the Blue Bombers were the very definition of “simple elegance” as they defeated the Ti-Cats in what turned out to be a game played over the course of two days. Their helmets were a bit bolder a year prior when they also beat Hamilton for the Cup.
A few Grey Cups before that, they sported some crazy pants in another matchup with the Tiger-Cats. (What a rivalry that must have been as the two teams squared off for the championship of Canada in 1953, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 and finally again in 1965…7 times in the space of 13 seasons, meeting 5 times in six years in the middle of that stretch!)
I never really cared for the gold lids with the block W, a look they would keep for roughly 3 decades, but I have always liked the combination of the lightning bolt, reminiscent of the ’61 helmets, with the block W. As with the simple W, the lightning/W logo initially appeared on a blue shell, then again afterwards on gold, first with a white W, then with a blue one.
I was sad to see them go back to the block W on gold a few years back. These look so much better, don’t you think? I also want to acknowledge the Bombers’ interesting blue digital camo signature series helmets, though I’m personally not a big fan of camouflage designs on helmets or uniforms.
That’s a wrap for the teams west of the Ontario/Manitoba border. I’ll be back with a look at the Big Four cities in the east next week along with a few rare preseason photos, as well.
This is in no way meant to be a complete look at all of the uniforms, but I hope you enjoyed, nevertheless.
If you have any photos I noted in this week’s LW, please link in the comments! Thanks again to John H. for his assist from last week.
P.S. I’ll be cheering for the Leos in the Western Final.
Till next time…
Thanks, Leo! Great, great stuff, as always. We’ll be back with the third and final installment next Saturday!
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
I have colorizations, or should I say “colourizations” today, from the suddenly (and awesomely) prolific George Chilvers.
George is back to
Thought you might like this one.
It’s a football match in the early 1920s at the Stadion Landhof in Basle in Switzerland, and the crowds are filling every free vantage point to view the game – including some very precarious viewing for even women and children in the partially built neighbouring apartment block. I’ve also included a picture of what the ground looks like now.
I will avoid making the obvious comment that it could portray your countrymen who have suddenly realised what they’ve done :) (no offence, folks!)
Thanks, George. Great stuff as always!
Jimmy Corcoran Strikes Again…
…with some pretty cool Cereal Boxes
Earlier this week, on Monday, Paul posted a photo of our victorious Curling Team in the league in which we curl on Sunday nights. It’s only the beginning of the season, but so far we’re 2-0.
A couple days after that, my buddy (and son of college/WFL/NFL quarterback King Corcoran) Jimmy Corcoran sent me (unsolicited) a few photoshops of the team on cereal boxes (I didn’t know Kellogs is the official cereal of Uni Watch, but it works for me). I got a laugh (he did a great job), and wanted to show you his work (you can click any image to enlarge):
Here’s the whole squad on one box (left to right it’s Omoy, Phil, Paul & Doug):
He also did some boxes featuring Paul & Doug, and Omoy and me:
Notice, Paul’s box got the Official Uni Watch color treatment!
Jimmy also played around with a couple different color combinations for the whole set, which you can check out here.
Thanks, Jimmy. That was funny!
College Football Uni Watch
Some looks, via Twitter, at what you’ll (probably) see on the NCAA Gridiron Today.
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) November 15, 2016
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) November 18, 2016
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) November 18, 2016
— Jeremiah Clarke (@fat_melo) November 18, 2016
I can confirm from an anonymous source that UNC will be in all black today vs. The Citadel — despite the uni combo originally tweeted out by UNC below
This week's uniform combination for the Citadel at 3:30pm. pic.twitter.com/Kp2wRAUZNG
— Jason Freeman (@UNCEquipment) November 17, 2016
— UNC Sports Turf (@Tar_Heels_Turf) November 18, 2016
These guys are the best in the business! pic.twitter.com/VwlxCnQgkr
— Chris Kapilovic (@CoachCKap) November 18, 2016
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) November 18, 2016
Is it me, or do these look like the OLD style LSUnis? — the shoulder stripes now are much longer.
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) November 18, 2016
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) November 17, 2016
— JMU Duke Blawg (@jmudukeblawg) November 17, 2016
Not todays uni, but a nice look at a season’s worth of helmets
— New Mexico Lobos (@UNMLOBOS) November 17, 2016
— Columbia Football (@ColumbiaLionsFB) November 17, 2016
— UCF_Equipment (@UCF_Equipment) November 17, 2016
— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) November 17, 2016
— John Cassillo (@JohnCassillo) November 17, 2016
— Princeton Football (@PUTigerFootball) November 17, 2016
Since Georgia Tech wears light-colored jerseys at home, UVA going with this uniform combination Saturday. pic.twitter.com/Lu6Qdu14Gi
— Virginia Football (@UVa_Football) November 17, 2016
Aaron working on helmets for this weekend! pic.twitter.com/X7kERGToPh
— Colorado Equipment (@CUEquipment) November 16, 2016
— Colorado Equipment (@CUEquipment) November 16, 2016
— Stony BrookEquipment (@StonyBrookEQ) November 16, 2016
— Arkansas stAte Equip (@ArkansasStateEq) November 16, 2016
— MT Equipment (@MTSU_Equipment) November 16, 2016
— Air Force Football (@AFFootball) November 16, 2016
— Cyclone Equipment (@CycloneEQUIP) November 16, 2016
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) November 16, 2016
They're back on Saturday. ðŸ”¥ðŸ”¥
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) November 16, 2016
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) November 15, 2016
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it on Friday, this has been a big year for custom-designed NFL cleats. You might think the sneakers companies are the ones coming with the custom designs, but a lot of them have actually been produced by two guys in Buffalo (including the pair they created for Bills running back LeSean McCoy, shown here).
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Check out this Jackie Robinson game-worn Brooklyn Dodgers cap (c.1949-50) Note how the “B” logo was a patch stitched onto the cap (great spot by Bruce Menard). … According to this item in their online store, it appears the Iowa baseball team is adding a throwback cap for 2017. Submitter Jesse Gavin adds, “I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess they’ll wear it with their gold throwback jerseys. In the past, they’ve worn their standard home cap with those tops.” … Tweeter Gingersaurus Rex notes the 2017 AZ Spring Training Logos were included in a Reds email about schedule. … The New York “Mets appear to be selling the throwback cap with blue squatchee with the NE Logo,” says MetsPlus by Niko G., who asks, “Any chance the 86 uni returns in 17?” (I’m pretty sure that’s a “no”). But if you wanted to own one without the NE logo, you may be SOL now. … Coming in 2017 is this Reno Aces throwback jersey, (they are, obviously, a Diamondbacks affiliate). From OT Sports. … The Buies Creek Astros have a new logo (from Josh Claywell). Here’s another look (and a uni mock), from MiLB Promos. … According to this article, Chief Wahoo needs to go, sociologists tell Major League Baseball commissioner (from Jason Hillyer). … Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of the new uni reveal in Toronto. Ian Hunter did a nice post on that.
NFL News: What’s in a number: Ever wonder why a player on the Eagles wears a particular number? Find out the story of each number here (via Adam Cole, James Korkie and Paul). … The Cleveland Browns will wear their orange jerseys again, for their second and final time this year. … A “local newspaper” used the old style Dolphins helmet to plug their upcoming game against the Rams (from Troy). Looks like the Get It. … As you’re (likely) aware, the NFL will play the Monday Night game in Mexico, and here’s a look at the field (from Jake Adkins). … Dicks sporting goods in Maryland selling ‘skins color rush jerseys (from Joe Ciango).
Hockey News: This photo from inside the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room shows the team apparently has an old Pirates helmet there (from David Hamen). … Ooooh, soxy: The Red Wings (then Cougars) played their 1st game 90 years ago yesterday. Their 1st win came days later against the Blackhawks. Check out those striped socks (from Cole Bury). … New uniforms for Tufts Men’s hockey (from Hockey In The CAC). … ASU (yes, they have a hockey team), wore black sweaters last night against Penn State (from Maria Canales).
NBA News: If you look at the Wizards, um, mascot, it it appears as though a uni ad is on there. Jeppy Keith asks, “Have the wizards already sold ad space on their unis?” … The Milwaukee Bucks have announced dates for their “Fear The Deer” alternate court games.
College/High School Hoops News: Curie, a Chicago high school, has some odd uniforms (from Mike Chamernik). Count me as not a fan of two-toned (or different color waist) shorts. … Gonzaga to observe Native American Heritage Month with turquoise jerseys in matchup against Bryant. … Marquette went with the track and field (new, lower cut) unis yesterday (from Nick Grodo). … Rough screen grab, but ASU and Tulane went color vs. color yesterday (from Joe Farris). … Kansas, who opened the season against Indiana in an armed forces tribute uni, wore them again last night vs. Siena (from Colton Lovelace). That game was color vs. color (from Keenan Soto). … The University of New Mexico Lobos had 50th Anniversary logos on their unis last night (from SkiWookie). … Michigan, now back with
Nike Jumpman, wore their gold uniforms last night (from Hit The Glass).
Grab Bag: Ever had a butter dish that didn’t fit your butter? Not to put too fine a point on it, but it might be a territorial thing. East coast butter sticks are long and thin and West coast sticks are thick and stout (nice find from Lindsay Resnick). … AFL footy news: Our American Pie, Mason Cox, is looking good in the 2017 Collingwood Magpies jumper. In addition to the jumper sporting the 125th Season logo, the Pies also have a new manufacturer this season (from Leo Strawn, Jr.). … New singlets for Virginia wrestling (from UVA Equipment). … Couple cool items from David Firestone: 1950’s Original Sun Golden Girl cola tin; a Magnolia Petroleum Co. marketing terminal sign; and, a 1960s phone booth shell (that’s a rotary phone, kids). … Did you know they give out rings for NCAA Lax champs? Me neither, but here’s one for the North Carolina squad (from James Gilbert). … Also from James, this article has lots of good discussion of UNC logo’ed USS North Carolina, and this article has lots of pics.
And that will do it for today. Big, YUUUUGE thanks to Leo for another outstanding contribution to the CFL uni history. Some great research there. Also kudos to George for the colourizaiton and Jimmy for the cereal boxes!
I’ll be back with the SMUW crew tomorrow. But until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Expect a lot more gold trimmed fashion during the Donald Trump presidency.”