August 19, 2006

Randall was a leader for Als

Won three Grey Cups in 11-year career

By Ian MacDonald,
Montreal Gazette

Captain Barry Randall was an unsung hero with the Alouettes of the seventies – but don’t ask the team’s 11-year (1967-’77) starter at right tackle to elaborate.

“I guess I was consistent as a steady journeyman,” the 62-year-old Randall, who two years ago retired from his job as a stock broker, said recently from his Ottawa home.

One of Marv Levy’s first assistant hires when he took over as Alouettes coach in 1973 was Dan Sekanovich – responsible for the offensive and defensive lines. Sekanovich was quickly impressed with the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Randall.

“It all starts with the offensive line,” Sekanovich used to say. “We’re very fortunate to have a solid Canadian like Randall as a starter.”

Coach Sam Etcheverry had named Randall offensive captain in 1972. Levy rubber-stamped the selection in ’73. When players voted for the captains in 1976, Randall got the nod again.

“I think a big thing we had going for us in those good years (1970s) was continuity on the O-line,” Randall said. “We had four or five guys who played a lot of years together and that makes a difference.”

Randall was referring to players such as guards Ed George and the late Dave Braggins, tackles Dan Yochum and himself, centre Wayne Conrad and tight-end Peter Dalla Riva. George, Yochum, Braggins and Dalla Riva won numerous all-Canadian laurels during that stretch.

Born in Dorothy, Alta., Randall played junior with the Mount Royal Cougars in Calgary before going to Eastern Washington (Evergreen Conference). He went as a walk-on, but quickly earned a scholarship.

The Stampeders owned Randall’s CFL rights, but the Alouettes traded for them during his final year at university (1967).

“We had a very poor team the first few years I was with the Alouettes, but being in Montreal in 1967 was great because of Expo ’67,” Randall recalls.

Randall says starting in three Grey Cup-winning years (1970, 1974 and 1977) were all special, but very different.

“In ’70, we put it together for the playoffs,” Randall said. “I think we were second or third at the end of the season.”

The Alouettes were third at 7-6-1. When they beat Calgary 23-10 in the Grey Cup at Toronto, they became the first third-place team to win the title.

“We had a better team in ’74,” Randall said. The Alouettes were 9-5-2 and beat the Eskimos 22-18 in the Grey Cup at Vancouver.

Randall retired after the ’77 Grey Cup where the Als romped over Edmonton 41-6 before 68,318 at Olympic Stadium – still a record for Grey Cup attendance.

“We had a very good team and won our first seven games, but I don’t recall the Grey Cup game being a romp,” Randall said. “It was close at the half.”

Randall was right. The Als led 10-3 at the half on three field goals and one miss by Don Sweet. It was late in the third quarter before quarterback Sonny Wade hit Dalla Riva with two touchdown passes to set up an easy finish.

Randall lived in Montreal year-round when he played for the Als. He and wife Sue (Craig) had their three children here.

“The first year I lived in Park Ex because we practised at Jarry Park,” Randall said. “When the Als went to the Autostade, I moved to LaSalle. For most of my career, we lived in Pointe Claire.”

Daughter Karen, the eldest child, is a paramedic in Antigonish, N.S. Son Jay spent 10 years learning the movie business in Los Angeles. He came back to Montreal and opened his own business called Bar X Seven.

Youngest son Jeff lives in Victoria and hasn’t determined what direction he wants to take.

Sue lost a battle with breast cancer some years ago and Randall is now married to Donna (Mazur) of St. Catharines, Ont.

Randall started in the stock business during his playing career. But in 1972 , the Quebec Securities Commission ruled it would be unfair for a pro athlete to use his reputation to promote a stock or influence a client.

Randall leaned on the team play he learned in football. He partnered with a broker who handled his clients during the season, while he handled the other broker’s clients as well as his own during the offseason.

This worked well enough that when he retired from football, Randall was transferred to Ottawa by Nesbitt Burns. He became branch manager in Ottawa and worked for the company until his retirement.