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50th Anniversary of the 1973 Grey Cup Championship

Tim Baines, Published Oct 25, 2013

November 25th will mark the 50th anniversary of the Ottawa Rough Rider’s 1973 Grey Cup championship win.

50th Anniversary of the 1973 Grey Cup Championship

November 25th will mark the 50th anniversary of the Ottawa Rough Rider’s 1973 Grey Cup championship win. The game was played at Toronto's with Riders defeating the Edmonton Eskimos 22–18, before a crowd of 36,653. The Ottawa Sun’s Tim Baines wrote an article 10 years ago remembering the game.

Ottawa Rough Riders recall 1973 Grey Cup victory

Tim Baines, Published Oct 25, 2013

Forty years later, in a huge Ottawa Conference and Event Centre ballroom with red and black balloons floating above the tables, 21 members of the 1973 Ottawa Rough Riders were saluted Friday afternoon — celebrating and remembering a magic moment with Canadian football's most treasured chalice.

These distinguished gentlemen shared something special, winning a Grey Cup, really in unlikely fashion. The once-strapping lads, brought together for a luncheon along with 40 other alumni and a selection of smiling politicians, bigwigs from around town and members of the RedBlacks organization, still carry some fond memories from that Nov. 25 game in Toronto, when Ottawa beat favoured Edmonton 22-18.

"It was a feeling that's hard to describe," said defensive end Jim Piaskoski. "It was a feeling of rejoicing, that it was a long, hard season that had paid off. We were the underdogs. But I think we deserved to win. We played pretty well."

"Forty years is a long time," said kicker Gerry Organ, who booted field goals of 46 and 39 yards in the win. "We were able to pull this off as a group. Guys can still remember everything about every play they had with a guy they just met again after all these years."

And the stories, ah, yes ... the stories.

"You can exaggerate," said Organ. "It wasn't just a 52-year-old field goal — it was a 52-yard field goal in the rain, into the wind, on the last play on the game. You can do that now and everybody laughs. It's OK.

"The 52 1/2-yarder I did kick in 1980 to get us into the playoffs was with the wind, but everybody tells it like it was into the wind. It's a better story."

After the Grey Cup, some teammates wouldn't see each other again -- until Friday.

"Tom Schuette, Roger Perdrix ... it's been 40 years since we've seen them," said Organ. "We all went our different ways. A lot of them didn't play again after that 1973 Grey Cup. Quite frankly, there are guys you don't recognize — until you say, 'I think I know who you are.' Camaraderie and team spirit lives over time."

Linebacker Soupy Campbell didn't need much of an introduction to anyone. Hobbling around, the legend and Hall-of-Famer was happy to see familiar faces.

"My body's shi---ng on me a bit right now, but inside I feel all right," he said. "Coming here, everything comes back to you. You're glad to see everybody, you're happy they're still with us."

For Mark Kosmos, another linebacker, 1973 was special.

"I already had two Grey Cups — one in 1970, one in 1972," said Kosmos. "Then I got traded to Ottawa in 1973 and it was fun because the guys worked so hard, but also enjoyed what they were doing.

"When you have the opportunity to get the guys together, what a special day it becomes. You're seeing guys you laid it on the line with. That's the whole game scenario. You have to work to do your job and help the other guy in his job. When you play and win, that's the game, that's what you've played for -- forget the money, forget everything else, this is what it all means."

Friday's luncheon, which directed much of the proceeds to the Kiwanis Read-A-Thon, was a meeting of past, present and future — a passing of the torch. The guys who took so much pride in putting on Ottawa's colours can't wait to see the next generation of football in this city.

"The excitement is with the fans, the gratitude is with the players who are just thankful that it can come back," said Organ. "There's a big gap in history, but over time all the memories of the former great years of the Rough Riders will be relived and that gap will disappear."

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