June 19, 2014

Campbell: New stamps a longtime coming for Ottawa fans

Canada Post

Scott Bradley’s CFL has always been numbered nine.

That’s regardless of whether the Capital even had a team, whether the Rough Riders, or later the Renegades, were experiencing off-field troubles and in danger if disappearing, the superfan that he is, always considered Ottawa a major player in the league.

A year and a half ago, as the CFL celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup from East Coast to West, Bradley was more than a little dismayed when the celebration didn’t include as much Ottawa football history as he deemed appropriate.

So he did something about it and on Thursday, he and all Ottawa football fans are celebrating as Canada Post introduces a pair of stamps depicting Ottawa football history.

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One stamp immortalizes Rough Rider legend Russ Jackson, 45 years after throwing his last pass. The second stamp features the REDBLACKS logo.  Both follow the same format issued for the other 8 teams in 2012 when Canada Post commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup game.

“It all started with the Grey Cup train going city to city (in 2012) like a roving museum,” said Bradley, an internal auditor with the Bank of Canada.

When Bradley found out the train would visit Ottawa Station, he and his father Hack, a still vibrant 79-year-old fan, decided they better check it out.

“I had on my Tony Gabriel jersey and there were other fans there too and Canada Post was a sponsor and they were handing out their stamps, and they came over to us and asked what our favourite team was,” Bradley continues.

“As soon as we said ‘Ottawa Rough Riders’ . . . they all just went ‘oh oh’.

“I asked them: ‘how can you leave out the Rough Riders in presenting the history of the CFL?’ and they just gave us the excuse ‘well they’re not in the league’ . . .

“At the kiosk, we asked how they could give out stamps without one for the Rough Riders. I mean we thought we should have one too. I think it was a pretty glaring error on their part.”

Fortunately, one of the people manning the kiosk had the presence of mind extend an olive branch in the form of a suggestion to write to Canada Post and suggest a Rider stamp.

“I did a little research because I didn’t want to send it to someone who might just delete it,” said Bradley.

In fact, Bradley went right to the top and sent an e-mail to Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra.

Hello Mr. Chopra,

My name is Scott Bradley and I am a longtime Ottawa Rough Rider/CFL fan. I would like to congratulate you and Canada Post in general for the wonderful set of stamps commemorating the 100th Grey Cup and the individual CFL teams.

The team stamps are wonderfully done, however there is one glaring omission in the set – the Ottawa Rough Riders.

In Fine Form

It is true that we not currently in the league, however I firmly feel that our 120 year history, Grey Cup successes and our eventual return to the CFL in 2014 definitely warrants a stamp for the Ottawa Rough Riders. The iconic image below from the 1976 Grey Cup showing Tony Gabriel catching a last second pass from Tom Clements to win the game in addition to a larger image of Tony Gabriel would certainly make a fitting addition to the current set of CFL stamps.

I would like to STRONGLY suggest that Canada Post consider issuing a separate Ottawa Rough Riders stamp with Tony Gabriel or Russ Jackson representing the team.

I thank you for your consideration,

-Scott Bradley (Ottawa, Ontario)

Now, just weeks before the REDBLACKS take the field for their inaugural season, with Bradley, a Southside Season Ticket Holder, is celebrating the release of the  Ottawa stamps to “complete” the CFL series.

“I wasn’t even sure I would hear back but Mr. Chopra got back to me and outlined how to make a submission for Canada Post’s annual specialty stamps,” said Bradley. “Even then I wasn’t sure we would be successful because I can’t imagine how many submissions they get.

“But then I heard back and even was told the same artist who did the original series of stamps was designing them so I am very happy.”

Bradley, it should be noted, also supplied the REDBLACKS with a 1976 Silver Dollar to be placed under the turf at mid-field at TD Place, commemorating the last Grey Cup win by the Riders.

“Hopefully it brings the team luck . . . and it’s facing the Southside,” said Bradley.

As big a fan as Bradley is, his playing was limited to pickup games after Hillcrest High School folded its football team while Bradley was in Grade 11.

“You can really sense the excitement,” said Bradley, “The new owners . . . right from the very start, they’ve been doing it right. A lot of effort is being put into the product by OSEG (Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group). They are sending people to public events and they have the players in the schools.

At least twice a week on his way home from work Bradley goes out of his way to drive over the Bank Street Bridge to gauge the progress at TD Place.

“I remember going over the bridge and seeing all the people blowing those plastic horns. I drive over it these days and every time I do I see more seats in place and I can just picture the crowd.”

The commemorative stamp shows a young Russ Jackson in the foreground and the new TD Place in the background.  The team logo stamps display a notched ‘R’ on a circular saw blade that evokes past Rider helmets and is symbolic of Ottawa’s logging past.  

The Russ Jackson stamp is available in booklets of 10. The team logo stamp comes in a coil of 50. There is also an Official First Day Cover that illustrates both stamps. They are for sale at the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group Team Store at 841 Bank Street, or at any Canada Post retail outlets.

The stamps are also available for sale online at canadapost.ca/REDBLACKS.