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Friday, November 23, 2012

The 100th Grey Cup

The Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders will face off in the 100th Grey Cup November 25, 2012 in Toronto. The first Grey Cup was played December 10, 1909 in Toronto and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the Parkdale Canoe Club with 3,800 fans in attendance. For many years, university teams participated and the event wasn't professional.

There were no games between 1916 - 1918 because of WWI. Apparent disinterest and a rules conflict meant no game in 1919, but otherwise there has been a game each year. Some of the more colourfully named clubs participating included the Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers, the St. Hyacinthe-Donnacona Navy and the Winnipeg Tammany Tigers. Although it's a Canadian game, the Canadian Football League briefly expanded into the U.S. in 1992 – 1996 and the Cup was won in 1995 by the Baltimore Stallions, who became the only team outside of Canada to do so.

And being Canadian, there are some differences to its U.S. cousin. Centre field is the 55 yard line with two 50 yard lines on either side, thus making the field longer. At 65 yards, it is also wider than the U.S. version. There are 12 players, not 11. There are numerous other differences that make scoring and playing the Canadian game unlike the U.S. one, but the other major one is that there are 3 downs, not 4. We may be polite, but after all, there's no need to give your opponent an extra chance to score on you.

Frank Dombrowski (left) of the United States and Captain W. Drinkwater of Canada, rival captains of the teams playing in the Canada-United States football game at White City Stadium, London, England February 14, 1944. (Source: Library and Archives Canada)

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