The Calgary Stampeders are my hometown's Canadian Football League (CFL) franchise. They used to be really, really good. Now, they're not so much. Personally, I don't mind that too much, as it seems that whenever the Stamps are doing quite well, the Calgary Flames don't do so well, and vice versa. And like the vast majority of Canadians, I care a hell of a lot more about hockey than I do about football.
Their team colours are Red and White, and their logo is a white horse galloping on a red background. Whenever the Stampeders score a touchdown, they have a white horse which gallops around the field. A nice touch if you ask me.
The Stampeders are also host to the Labour Day Classic, a long standing tradition, where the Stamps battle their bitter rivals the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium every Labour Day. The Stampeders and the Eskimos are the only two CFL teams in the province of Alberta.
They got their start in 1931, and were originally known as the Calgary Altomahs, playing out of Mewata Stadium. In 1935, they changed to the Calgary Bronks, and then again in 1944, they changed their name to the Stampeders. This was quite likely to try and associate themselves with the ever popular Calgary Stampede, which is the largest rodeo in the world.
At the time, they were playing in the Western Inter-Provincial Football Union (WIFU), and the Bronks even won the WIFU championship in 1938. It is an interesting quirk that while the WIFU, and it's Eastern Canadian counterpart the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU), were separate leagues, the champion of each would get together to compete for the prize given out to the Canadian Football Champion, Lord Grey's Cup.
Anyhoo, the Stampeders won their first Grey Cup in 1948, beating the Ottawa Rough Riders 12-7. During that season, they had a perfect 12-0 record. Not too shabby.
1960 saw the completion of McMahon Stadium, which upgraded the facilities that the Stamps played in from the worst in the country, to the best in the country (at the time). You may recall McMahon Stadium as the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. Still the current home of the Stampeders, it's located just south of the University of Calgary, which owns the facility.
In 1971, they managed to win the Grey Cup again, against the Toronto Argonauts, 14-11. They would not even reach the Grey Cup final again, until 1991.
The 90's, however, was the golden decade for the team. In 1990, Wally Buono took over as head coach of the team. In 1992, newly signed Quarterback Doug Flutie (Yes, that Doug Flutie) led the team to a 1st place finish in the regular season, and their first Grey Cup victory in over 20 years.
This decade saw notable players such as slotbacks Allen Pitts, David Sapunjis, and Darren Flutie, linebacker Alondra Johnson, quarterbacks Jeff Garcia (replacing Flutie) and Dave Dickenson (replacing Garcia), running back Kelvin Anderson, amongst other notables.
Garcia led the team to another Grey Cup victory in 1998, and Dickenson did again in 2001. However, 2001 also marked the beginning of the end, because that's when businessman Michael Feterik bought the team.
The 2002 season downright sucked. The team's record was 6-12, and they missed the playoff for the first time since 1988. Soon after the end of the season, head coach Wally Buono, who many credit with the team's success in the 90's, announced he was moving to Vancouver to coach for the BC Lions. The reason he cited? Too much interference from the team's ownership.
An example of this interference? Well, for the 2002 season, the starting quarterback, replacing Dave Dickenson, was none other than Kevin Feterik. That's right, the owner made them let his son play.
But anyways, Wally Buono left, and so did almost every player who was any good. And the stamps suck now a days. Perhaps, if we're lucky, one day Feterik will sell the team to someone who knows what they're doing, and we might be able to start winning again. Right now, however, we're at 2-8, and it doesn't look like things are going to improve anytime in the near future.
Update: It looks like a group of local businessmen are in the process of purchasing the team. I certainly hope it goes through.
To recap, Grey Cup Champions: 1948, 1971, 1992, 1998, 2001.
Canadian Football League, "A short history of the CFL", The Official Site of the Canadian Football League
. 11 April 2003. <www.cfl.ca/CFLHistory/shorthistory.html> (2 Sept 2004)
Calgary Stampeders, "Stampeders History", STAMPEDERS.COM // The Calgary Stampeders Official Website //
. <www.stampeders.com/team/history/team_history.php> (2 Sept 2004)