Grey Cup flashback: Sam Etcheverry turned Als around

By Ian MacDonald, The Gazette April 26, 2010

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Though he rewrote the Canadian Football League record books during his record run – er, pass – through the mid-1950s, Sam (The Rifle) Etcheverry never led the Alouettes to a Grey Cup victory as a player.

But in 1970, during his first year as head coach, Etcheverry took the Alouettes all the way, beating the Calgary Stampeders 23-10 for Montreal’s first Grey Cup championship in 21 years.

The victory launched a decade that would see the Alouettes play in six Grey Cup games, with two more victories. In 1974, the Als beat the Edmonton Eskimos 20-7 in Vancouver, and in 1977 they hammered the Eskimos 41-6 in front of 68,318 at Olympic Stadium, a crowd that remains a Grey Cup record.

They haven’t won another Grey Cup since.

The 1970 win was surprising, with the Alouettes becoming the first third-place team in the regular season to capture the Grey Cup. Ironically, the Stampeders finished third in the Western Division.

The Alouettes had little success during the 1960s. But after the ’69 season, Sam Berger bought the team from Joe Atwell. In trying to rekindle the spirit that the Alouettes created during the ’50s, Berger not only signed Etcheverry as coach, but also brought back Red O’Quinn, one of Etcheverry’s great receivers, to serve as general manager.

The 1970 team had 23 new players and finished the regular season with a 7-6-1 record. Only days after the regular season was over, Etcheverry suspended – actually, fired is a better word – two first-string players for breaking one of the team’s few off-field regulations. Import fullback Dennis Duncan, who led the East with 1,037 yards rushing and nine touchdowns, and Canadian slotback Bob McCarthy were bounced for frequenting a drinking establishment that had been labeled out of bounds for the players.

Without Duncan and McCarthy in the lineup, the Als knocked off the second-place Toronto Argonauts 16-7 in the Eastern semi-final, and then defeated the first-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats 32-22 and 11-4 in a home-and-home Eastern final.

In the Grey Cup, the Als fell behind early on a Jerry Keeling touchdown pass to Hugh McKinnis. The Alouettes would bounce back, scoring on a strange play. Running-back Moses Denson was stopped on a third-down gamble from in close, but while Calgary defender Terry Wilson had a lock on Denson’s legs, he managed to throw a pass to Ted Alflen in the end zone.

Tom Pullen, on a run, and Gerry Lefebvre, on a pass from Sonny Wade, scored the other Alouettes touchdowns, while George Springate kicked a field goal. Terry Evanshen, who caught six passes for 95 yards, and defensive-back Al Phaneuf, who had two interceptions, were both outstanding, while Wade was named player of the game.

After the 1970 victory, the Alouettes stumbled during the next two seasons, but recovered in 1973 after Marv Levy was hired as coach. From 1974 through ’79, the Alouettes played in five of six Grey Cup games

Kicker Don Sweet was the star in their 1974 victory, scoring 13 points on four field goals and a single. Larry Sherrer scored the Als’ lone touchdown on a 5-yard run.

In 1977, the Als were the class of the league, finishing with an 11-5 record. They edged the Ottawa Rough Riders 21-18 in the Eastern final, before routing the Eskimos in a Grey Cup game that won’t soon be forgotten.

Despite a transit strike and a snowstorm, thousands of fans hiked from downtown to Olympic Stadium. The frozen field made the footing treacherous, and credit went to defensive-back Tony Proudfoot, now a commentator on CJAD’s Alouettes broadcasts, for coming up with the idea of putting staples on the bottom of the Montreal players’ cleats.

Wade threw touchdown passes to Peter Dalla Riva, John O’Leary and Bob Gaddis, while Sweet kicked a record six field goals.

Members of the 1970 team were: Ted Alflen, Justin Canale, Gordon Judges, Barry Randall, Wally Highsmith, Mike Webster, Garry Lefebvre, George Springate, Charlie Collins, Jorma Kuisma, Moses Denson, Tony Passander, Gene Gaines, Larry Fairholm, Bobby Lee Thompson, John Couture, Steve Booras, Steve Wormith, Bruce Van Ness, Angelo Raffin, Peter Dalla Riva, Gene Ceppetelli, Ed George, Tom Pullen, Mark Kosmos, Mike Widger, Ted Collins, Steve Smear, Al Phaneuf, Terry Evanshen, Sonny Wade, Pierre Desjardins, Merl Code, Bob Storey, Lewis Cook and Rickie Davis.

On the 1974 team, it was: Jimmy Jones, Don Sweet, Rudy Florio, Phil Price, Johnny Rodgers, Tony Proudfoot, Steve Ferrughelli, Ward Smith, Wally Buono, Wayne Conrad, Barry Randall, Glen Weir, Joe Critchlow, Peter Dalla Riva, Chuck Zapiec, Marv Luster, Art Edgson, Dan Yochum, Gary Chown, Ian Mofford, Sonny Wade, Keith Eaman, Dickie Harris, Gene Gaines, Larry Sherrer, Mike Widger, Larry Smith, Doug Mitchell, Ray Watrin, Dave Braggins, Ed George, Carl Crennel, Gordie Judges, Junior Ah You, Pat Bonnett, Jerome Gantt, Jake Zumbach and Doug Smith.

The 1977 team included: Barry Ardern, Dwayne Crump, Gerry Dattilio, Horace Belton, Chuck McMann, Dickie Harris, Pat Bonnett, Larry Smith, Dan Yochum, Marvin Davis, Peter Dalla Riva, Ray Watrin, Barry Randall, Joe Barnes, Ian Mofford, Bob Gaddis, Tony Proudfoot, Les Strayhorn, Clifton Alapa, Brock Aynsley, Wally Buono, Gary Chown, Gabriel Gregoire, Jim Burrow, Randy Rhino, Vernon Perry, Junior Ah You, Doug Smith, Chuck Zapiec, Glen Weir, Gordon Judges, Wayne Conrad, Sonny Wade, John O’Leary, Don Sweet, Carl Crennel, John Beaton, Max Huber and Andy Hopkins.

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As a CFL and Scotiabank Touchdown Atlantic subscriber, you have the opportunity to purchase 2010 Scotiabank Touchdown Atlantic game tickets before they go on-sale to the general public.

Your exclusive pre-sale opens at 10:00a.m. AT (local Moncton time) on Wednesday, March 24th and is available until 10:00 a.m. (AT) Thursday, March 25th.

You will receive an email from us the morning of the pre-sale that will provide you with a link and an access code to purchase tickets. Pre-sale tickets are only available for online purchases. Ticket availability is on a first come, first served basis. There is a limit of eight (8) tickets per person. Visa, MasterCard and American Express will be accepted.

Scotiabank Touchdown Atlantic tickets go on-sale to the general public on Thursday, March 25th at 10:00 a.m. AT.

Join our league in making history when the Toronto Argonauts host the Edmonton Eskimos on September 26th in Moncton in the CFL’s first-ever regular season game in Atlantic Canada!

To review the game details, stadium map and ticket information visit


CFL Alumni Association Media Release 

OCTOBER 21st, 2009





CALGARY, AB, October 21st, 2009
The CFL Alumni Association together with partner Calgary Stampeder Alumni Association are pleased to announce the inaugural CFL Alumni Legends Club Luncheon to be held over Grey Cup weekend in Calgary, Alberta Friday, November 27th. This charity event is the first of its kind for the newly established CFL Alumni Association, whereby the goal is to raise money for the ‘Dire Needs Fund’, which offers support to former CFL players experiencing financial or medical hardships.
“All of our CFL Alumni fundraising efforts will result in creating new and exciting events under the umbrella of the CFL and its national celebration and championship- the Grey Cup”, said Leo Ezerins, Executive Director of the newly created CFL Alumni Association. “We are excited to be working with the CFL on TSN panel for this legends club luncheon and profiling some of our hall of fame CFL Alumnus for the passionate fans of the CFL”, said Ezerins.
This inaugural luncheon will feature profiles on Hall of Fame and CFL Alumni members by the CFL on TSN broadcast panel, consisting of Dave Randorf and CFL Alumni members themselves Jock Clime, Matt Dunigan and Chris Shultz. Guests’ fortunate enough to obtain VIP tickets to the event will be privy to a luncheon with Alumni members seated at their table, where they can hear battle and success stories of their playing career while watching Grey Cup moments of the Alumni profiled at the event.
“All of our CFL clubs have stepped up and provided support of our Alumni association and guests of this event can expect to see some of their favorite legends of the game in attendance”, said former player and Calgary Stampeders Alumni President Rocco Romano. “We want this event to be THE Alumni event of the year not only raising money for our Dire Needs Fund where portions of this fund remain within the Calgary community to support amateur football, but as a gathering place for our members to reacquaint with each other and interact with our passionate CFL fan base,” said Romano.
The Alumni Legends Club luncheon will be held Friday, November 27th at Flames Central located at 219 8th Ave SW in Calgary, AB with doors opening at 11:00 am. Tickets are available for sale thru the Alumni Association’s website at where $150 dollar VIP tickets and $75 dollar standing reception style tickets are available.
For more information on the CFL Alumni Association please visit

For media requests, please contact:
Sheldon Lachambre
Director of Marketing and Media Relations









Fans name Ploen Outstanding Player of the 60s 

September 26, 2009 Staff

TORONTO — Canadian Football League fans have spoken: Winnipeg Blue Bomber quarterback Kenny Ploen is their choice for the Most Outstanding Player of the 1960s.

“On behalf of our fans, I want to congratulate Kenny Ploen on an unique and special honour,” said CFL  Commissioner Mark Cohon.

“Good players are respected by those who watch them play. Great players are remembered by those who saw them play. And the very best players are even revered by those who never saw them play. And this tribute establishes Kenny Pleon as one of our very best, in the eyes of more than one generation of CFL fans.”

Ploen will be honoured in front of his hometown fans during the pre-game ceremony of Saturday’s game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts at Canad Inns Stadium.

“I want to thank all the CFL fans who voted, and especially everyone here in Manitoba, for this privilege,” Ploen said.

“It has been an honour to be mentioned in the same breath with so many great players, including a fellow quarterback, Russ Jackson, the eastern nominee. The game gave me so much, including my start in Canada, which led to so many good friends and, of course, my wonderful family. To think that it is still giving me thrills after all these years — and this really is a thrill — is really something.”

Fan balloting for the Most Outstanding Player of the 1960s has been part of this year’s CFL Retro Celebration of one of the greatest decades in our league’s history. Fans were asked to vote online at on each team’s top player of the decade, then the top player for the East and West Division, and finally the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player of the 1960s.

Ploen came to Winnipeg fresh from leading the University of Iowa to a victory in the granddaddy of all U.S. college football games – the Rose Bowl. From 1957-1967, he led the Blue Bombers to six Grey Cup appearances, including four victories (1958, 1959, 1961, 1962). During his career, he completed 1,084 passes for 16,470 yards and 119 touchdowns. He was named a CFL All-Star in 1965 and was a three-time West Division All-Star at quarterback (1957, 1965) and defensive back (1959).
The MOP of the 1960s stayed in Winnipeg following his football career, working as a sales representative and football commentator, and is a member of the Order of Manitoba.
He’s remembered by CFL fans as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, and one of those imports who found something bigger than stardom: a home.

CFL mourns the loss of Ray Nettles

CFL mourns the loss of Ray Nettles


September 29, 2009 Staff

TORONTO — The Canadian Football League is saddened to announce today that Hall of Fame defender Ray Nettles has passed away at a hospice in Jacksonville, Florida. He had turned 60 on August 1st before succumbing to a long battle with cancer this afternoon.

Originally drafted by the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 1972 out of the University of Tennessee, Nettles chose to move north to BC and begin his professional playing career with the BC Lions. Nettles’ best years were with the Lions. He played on the West Coast from 1972-76
The hard-nosed linebacker and defensive lineman wasted little time making an impression in his rookie year and was named the league’s Outstanding Rookie in ‘72 as well as a Western Conference All-Star.

In 1973, Nettles earned another All-Star nod as well as the Schenley Award as the CFL’s Outstanding Lineman and followed it up with yet another All-Star campaign in 1974.

In all, Nettles appeared in 79 games for the Lions before being traded to the Toronto Argonauts in 1977 where he earned his first Eastern Conference All-Star selection as well as a team selection as Outstanding Defensive player. In 1978, he was dealt to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats where he was named a conference All-Star for a second time in as many seasons.

Nettles completed his nine-season career with one-year stops in Ottawa (’79) and Calgary (’80). He was inducted in to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.