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Time Capsule: A look at the first Grey Cup

TORONTO — It’s the anniversary of the first-ever Grey Cup game.

The first time the Grey Cup was handed out was on December 4th, 1909 as U of Toronto took on Toronto Parkdale. U of Toronto came away victorious, winning 26-6, and became the first team to ever raise the coveted trophy in celebration.

There were no stats compiled for this game, with the exception of the scoring plays and team lineups, as was custom of the period in Canadian rugby football.

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Hugh Gall led the way for U of Toronto, scoring 13 points, while Smirle Lawson was behind with seven followed by Murray Thompson (five) and Hugh Ritchie (one). For Toronto Parkdale, two players, Tom Meagan (five) and Percy Killaly (one), got in on the scoring.

“A second time the West Enders (Parkdale) held, Newton ordered a third buck (run into the middle of the line), which was also a failure, and Parkdale rooters set up a great racket,” said a quote from the Toronto Globe and Mail in December 6, 1909. “Varsity plunges were hurled back several times, and when Gall resorted to punts Cromar fumbled and Brady was forced to rouge. [and next] … Thomson tore through for twenty yards and on the second down Gall skirted the end for a touchdown, not converted. Varsity 6, Parkdale 0”

“[Parkdale] had just as good a repertoire of plays as Varsity (U of Toronto), and pulled them off just as intelligently, but the wonderful defence of the collegians usually broke up the various attacks just as they were on the verge of completion,” said a quote from the Toronto Daily Telegram on December 6, 1909. “Particularly this was the case with trick end runs, the man with the ball being nailed by either Newton or Foulds … Another feature was the way they marked Smirle Lawson. The great plunging halfback was usually nailed in his tracks by George Barber, who grabbed him high.”

3,807 people were in attendance at Rosefield, braving the cold weather (2 degrees celsius) to watch the first time a team won the Grey Cup. The referee of the game was Dr. W.B. Hendry and W.A. Hewitt handled the umpiring duties.

“While the final result, in figures, of Saturday’s game between the University of Toronto and Parkdale O.R.F.U. senior champions did not furnish a surprise, an analysis of their play did,” a quote from the Toronto Globe and Mail said. “Parkdale lost by 26 to 6, but they demonstrated in a most marked manner that ORFU senior football is almost as good as is played in Canada. Try as they would Varsity did not have a thing on the Paddlers in the first half and were only able to score at all in that period by virtue of a fumbled punt … The lack of daylight practices made itself apparent on the Parkdale backfield, for the halves muffed badly in the pinches … The Varsity backfield furnished their usual good exhibition of punting … In the fourth quarter Varsity relied almost entirely on the kicking game and Gall booted for four rouges in quick succession. Dr. Hendry did his customary careful and impartial job as referee, and W.A. Hewitt umpired quite satisfactorily.”

The game would be the first of 107 Grey Cups to be handed out as the CFL started on its journey to the league we know and love today.

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