Souvenir d'Andrew : La Coupe Grey 1970
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The 1970 Grey Cup winning Alouettes. A team of character and characters. It was tough being a fan of the Als in the 60's. Gone were the glory passing days of Sam Etcheverry and Hal Patterson. The only consistency was the play of running back George Dixon. The ownership was questionable and there was no quarterback.
Sam Berger came along and bought the club in 1969. J.I. Albrecht became the general manager. J.I. was known as one of the best recruiters (or bird dogs as he was nicknamed) in football. He started signing top American draft choices, many times outbidding NFL teams for their services. There was no salary cap and Sam Berger's pockets were deep.
The previously mentioned Sam Etcheverry became coach and the top players started arriving. They signed Ed George, an offensive tackle who was tough and mean. Along with Canadian tight end Peter Dalla Riva, who often played beside him, they used to beat up on the supposedly tougher defensive lineman on other teams.
Mike Widger and Mark Kosmos, two corner linebackers were also signed. They both were characters. Crescent street Mike was known to be a ladies' man. In fact, during Grey Cup week, Ralph Lockwood, one of the top radio personalities in Montreal called him at his hotel live on air on his top rated morning show. A lady answered but didn't seem to know Mike's name when Ralph asked for him. He had picked up the girl the night before. Mike came to the phone and swore that one day he would get Ralph back. Mark Kosmos was a Greek and very proud of his heritage. We will get back to him later.
Two top notch defensive ends Steve Booras and the appropriately named Steve Smear were added to the team. They drove the opposing quarterbacks crazy all season. Al Phaneuf joined the club as a corner back. Al was a Canadian and a blue chip addition. There was hardly, if any, non import corners playing this demanding skill position.
The quarterback was Sonny Wade. Along with Peter Dalla Riva he had some good Canadian receivers including the Terry Evanshen who had come back to the team after an outstanding career in Calgary. In addition they had speedster Gary LeFebvre playing flanker.
One of the most interesting Canadian players on the team was George Springate, the field goal kicker. It seemed there was nothing George couldn't do. He started his career as a policeman. After studying and playing football for McGill he became a lawyer, then a politician, then a sports announcer on local TV and even a citizenship judge. He also received the Order of Canada.
They started the year with all these premier signings plus a lot of solid incumbents. The Alouettes did not have a spectacular regular season. They finished third in the eastern division barely winning half of their games. They caught fire in the playoffs, however, beating Ottawa in the semi final and then Hamilton in then a two game total point series. Wow, here we were going to the Grey Cup in Toronto against Calgary. Surely they wouldn't hang on to win the Cup. Would ten years of misery finally be over?
The game was played on a sloppy muddy field. The defence did its job, the receivers caught the ball and Sonny and Moses threw the passes. Moses? Wait a minute he was the running back. At one point the Als were at about the five yard line. Moses was given the ball, ran to the outside but was caught. While a defender was hanging on to his legs Denson spotted new receiver Ted Aiflen and heaved the ball to him for a touchdown. Because of injuries Ted had been signed to play just that one game. The Als prevailed 23-10. I was so excited. They were finally winners.
It was really the first Grey Cup championship I remember. I was studying in Fredericton, New Brunswick at the time and was invited to a Grey Cup party. A pool was organized to pick the final score. I guessed the score within one point forgetting that George Springate missed the occasional point after touchdown, which he did.
Of course there was a big party in the dressing room after the match. I still remember Mark Cosmos, standing around wearing only football pants and a champagne soaked undershirt. He was smoking a big cigar and when interviewed he said "You need a Greek on the team to win the cup". He was quite prophetic. After he left the Als, he went on to play with Ottawa and Hamilton, winning a cup with each team. Again he was back in the dressing room of the victorious team proudly uttering the same phrase two more times.