Venue: Civic Stadium
Location: Hamilton, ON
Date: November 25
Winning Coach: Glen Brown
The Hamilton Wildcats were a good bet to defend their championship, but the St. Hyacinthe-Donnacona Navy team finished off a Cinderella season by returning the Grey Cup back to Montreal for the first time since 1931.
The 1944 champions started off as a pick-up crew, a bunch of sailors who liked to mess around on the football field. But as the Quebec season progressed, wins began to pile up, and before anybody knew it, the Donnies were in the big game.
Playing coach Glen Brown moulded four seniors (including himself), several intermediates and a group of high schoolers into an excellent defensive unit which won by taking advantage of their opponent’s mistakes. Fourteen of his players made a 40 mile trek just to get to the team’s headquarters for practice.
After Dutch Davey’s rouge in the opening quarter, the sailors took a 6-0 lead into halftime. Joe Krol, star of the 1943 Grey Cup, was hit hard on a run in the second quarter, and coughed up the ball to a St. Hyacinthe’s player. The Donnies took advantage of the miscue, as Davey completed a forward pass to Johnny Taylor, who ducked through the Hamilton line and ran 10 yards for the major.
The Wildcats were kept off the scoreboard for three quarters. In the final 15 minutes of action, Hamilton’s ground game went to work, as Krol, Paul Miocinovich and Tom Hickey picked up the necessary yardage from midfield. Miocinovich capped off the scoring drive for Wildcats, and Krol kicked a convert tie the score.
Davey went on to kick the winning single late in the game, as St. Hyacinthe held on to win the crown. It was the only time Krol lost the Grey Cup in his storied career.
There wasn’t a lot of interest in the game, as only 3,871 paid to see the contest at Hamilton’s Civic Stadium. It was the last time Grey Cup attendance was below 10,000 fans.
It was the final time in Grey Cup history that two Eastern teams competed for Canada’s top football prize. It was also the last time service clubs played for the coveted prize, as things returned to normal following the conclusion of World War II in 1945.