Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

CFL team
name = Winnipeg Blue Bombers
bgcolour = 003153
fontcolour = D4AF37
helmet = WinnipegCFLHelmet.png
founded = 1930
location = flagicon|Canada Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
field = Canad Inns Stadium
division = East Division
colours = Blue and gold
nickname = Bombers, Blue and Gold
Owner(s) = Community Owned
coach = Doug Berry
manager = Brendan Taman
president=Lyle Bauer
championships = 1935, 1939, 1941, 1958 1959, 1961, 1962, 1984 1988, 1990
mascot = Buzz and Boomer
website = []

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are a Canadian Football League team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Blue Bombers have won the league's Grey Cup championship ten times, most recently in 1990. They were also the first team not located in Ontario or Quebec to win a championship. They play their home games at Canad Inns Stadium.

Team history

The beginning

The first football team in Winnipeg was formed in 1880, and was called the Winnipeg Football Club. On June 10, 1930, they amalgamated with all the other teams in the Manitoba Rugby Football Union to create the Winnipegs.

1935 Grey Cup

Western teams had been to the Grey Cup game 10 times since 1909, but they had always gone home empty handed. It was clear in those days that the East was much more powerful, outscoring their opponents 236–29 in these games.

On December 7, 1935, the Winnipegs got their first shot at winning the Grey Cup. The game was being held in Hamilton, with the home-town Tiger-Cats being their opponent. It was a rainy day at Hamilton Amateur Athletic Association Grounds, with 6,405 fans in attendance.

Winnipeg was up 5–0 before many fans knew what was happening. After returning the opening kickoff to the Hamilton 15-yard line, Winnipeg scored quickly on a Bob Fritz pass to Bud Marquardt to get the early lead. After scoring another touchdown, Winnipeg went into halftime up 12–4. Their lead was soon cut to two points in the second half after Hamilton scored a touchdown of their own.

Then, standing deep in his end zone, Winnipeg's RB/KR Fritz Hanson caught the kickoff, and after a few moves and a few missed tackles, was on his way to a touchdown.

The final score was Winnipeg 18, Hamilton 12. With that, Winnipeg had become the first team from Western Canada to win a Grey Cup.

The Blue Bombers

In 1936, during a game against the University of North Dakota, "Winnipeg Tribune" sports writer Vince Leah remarked "these are the Blue Bombers of Western football". This phrase was referring to then heavyweight champion Joe Louis, known as the Brown Bomber. From that day forward the team has been known as the Blue Bombers.

Early days of glory

From 1936 to 1949, the Bombers won the right to compete for the Grey Cup 9 times (1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1945). Of these appearances, Winnipeg won only twice, in 1939 over the Ottawa Rough Riders and again in their 1941 rematch.

The Jack Jacobs era

Jack Jacobs, known as Indian Jack, was a Creek quarterback from Oklahoma. He came to the Bombers in 1950 after a successful career in the United States. He led the Bombers to two Grey Cup appearances, losing both. His exciting style of play and extreme talent increased ticket sales and overall awareness and popularity of the club. The revenue the Bombers were getting from their newfound popularity was enough to convince them to move from the small outdated Osborne Stadium to the new Winnipeg Stadium (now known as Canad Inns Stadium). Jacobs was so well liked that the fans even referred to the new stadium as “The House that Jack Built”. Jacobs retired in 1954 to become a talent scout for the team.

The glory years

Bud Grant joined the team in 1953 after a two year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, as one of numerous NFL players lured to Canada during the first part of the decade for then better salaries. After a four-year career as a receiver, then at the time called an offensive end, he accepted the position of head coach of the Bombers in 1957. Grant went on to coach the team for the next ten years before becoming the head coach of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.

During Grant’s tenure as head coach the Bombers welcomed the likes of Ken Ploen, Leo Lewis, Ernie Pitts and Ed Kotowich to the team. The Bombers competed in six Grey Cup games during Grant's tenure, winning four (1958, 1959, 1961, and 1962). In 1961 the Bombers won 21–14 over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first Grey Cup game to go into overtime. The Bombers and Ticats met again in the 1962 Grey Cup, with the game being postponed with 9:29 left in the fourth quarter due to zero visibility in the famous “Fog Bowl”. The game resumed the next morning with the Bombers winning 28-27.

During the second half of the 1960s the Bombers domination gave away to lean years, with four seasons of double digits in the loss column. The team bounced back in the early 1970s with the likes of quarterback Don Jonas, runningback Mack Herron, wide receivers Jim Thorpe and Bob LaRose. The team finished first in the Western Conference in 1972, the first time it had done so since 1962. However it also marks the last time the team has finished first in the West. The team struggled for a few more seasons and then became one of the stronger teams in the West, but usually behind the powerhouse Edmonton Eskimos.

The Cal Murphy era

In 1983 Cal Murphy was hired to be the new head coach of the Blue Bombers. Almost immediately, Murphy set the tone for his career with the Bombers by trading popular QB Dieter Brock to Hamilton in exchange for lesser-known QB Tom Clements. Trading Brock turned out to be a wise decision, with Clements leading the Bombers to crushing victory in the 1984 Grey Cup, coincidently over the Brock-led Tiger-Cats. This was Winnipeg's first Grey Cup in 22 years. Murphy was named coach of the year in both 1983 and 1984.

In 1987 Murphy stepped down as head coach to become the team general manger, with assistant coach Mike Riley (son of former Winnipeg coach Bud Riley) taking over head coaching duties. Riley's teams won the Grey Cup in both 1988 and 1990, garnering Riley the coach of the year award both seasons.

After Riley left, Darryl Rogers and Urban Bowman each helmed the team for a season until 1993, when Murphy took over head coaching duties again. Murphy went on to lead the team to a total of five Grey Cup appearances, winning, as a coach in 1984, and as a GM, in 1988 and 1990. He left the club after the 1996 season, having spent 14 years with the team. Later, he would coach the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1999.

The Reinbold years

In November 1996, Cal Murphy left the Blue Bomber organization, after 14 years. This was partly due to a 68-7 playoff thumping by the Edmonton Eskimos, and partly because the team had not had a winning record the previous 2 years, winning only 7 games in 1995, and 9 in 1996.

Jeff Reinbold was hired to replace Murphy as the teams coach, and despite a huge amount of hype, and championship promises going into the 1997 season, proved to be one of the worst head coaches in team and CFL history. The Bombers won 4 games in 1997, and just 3 in 1998, quickly becoming the joke of the league.

The few notable highlights from that era include;

- Milt Stegall becoming an all-star in 1997, his first full year with the team, and scoring what seemed like at least 1 long TD in every game.

- A 43-12 drubbing of the eventual Western Division champion Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 1997 Labour Day Classic.

- A dramatic win over the Roughriders at home in 1998, with forgotten backup QB Troy Kopp leading the 2nd half 20+ point comeback. This was the "Guaranteed Win day" that the club had been promoting all week, as well as the first win of the season, well into September.

The few memorable players on the team during that time included Linebacker: K.D. Williams, Safety: Tom Europe, Running back/ Returner: Eric Blount, and of course, Milt Stegall.

The Milt Stegall era

Milt Stegall joined the Bombers in 1995 after an unimpressive 3-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals, and played in the Bombers' final six games of the 1995 season, racking up 469 receiving yards. In 1996 Stegall set a new league record for average gain per reception at 26.5 yards on 61 catches, including 14 touchdowns. Following a brief return to the NFL, Stegall has remained the team's primary receiver.

In 1999 the Bombers acquired Khari Jones from the BC Lions. Together Stegall and Jones brought the Bombers back to prominence, with Jones being the CFL most outstanding player in 2001, and Stegall getting the honour in 2002. Charles Roberts joined them in 2001, a year which the Bombers went to the Grey Cup, which they eventually lost to the Calgary Stampeders. The team was a powerhouse during this period, being one of the best teams in the league from 2001 until 2003.

Midway through the 2004 season Jones was traded to the Calgary Stampeders, with backup QB Kevin Glenn taking over the starting duties. Glenn led the team to two mediocre seasons after the trade.

With the offensive core of Stegall and Roberts still intact, Glenn led the Bombers back to respectability in 2006, making their first playoff appearance in two years. The Bombers lost their first game in the playoffs, but optimism going into the 2007 was higher than ever. A big turning point in the 2006 season was the addition of former Saskatchewan Roughrider Derrick Armstrong, the heir apparent to Stegall.

The 2007 CFL season was in some ways the year of Milt Stegall: he broke the career CFL touchdown record and fell just short of overtaking the career receiving yards record held by Allen Pitts. The 2007 season was also likely be Stegall’s last, as he was 37 years old and had been contemplating retirement for the previous two seasons.

The 2007 Grey Cup game was played between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the first time the two prairie teams met for the championship. Winnipeg was defeated by the Saskatchewan Roughriders 23–19 in the Rogers Centre in Toronto. During the East division final win over the Toronto Argonauts, quarterback Kevin Glenn broke his arm and Winnipeg was left with a green rookie to take his place for the championship game. Inexperienced back-up quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie - in his first CFL start - threw one touchdown pass, fumbled once and threw 3 interceptions to Saskatchewan cornerback James Johnson. Johnson was later declared the game MVP.

One of the picks, was shown in the instant replay to have hit the ground before it was caught. Despite his rookie mistakes, Dinwiddie showed promise going into the 2008 season. Dinwiddie recently threw for 450-yds versus the Calgary Stampeders.

On January 31st, 2008 it was announced that Milt Stegall will be returning for yet one more year. He signed a one year contract for $200,000 on the basis of the fact his wife wanted to have their next child in Winnipeg, and the fact that they were in line to be a contender for the Grey Cup. He took a $50,000 pay cut, and is 159 yards away from breaking Allen Pitts all time receiving yards record.

Other returning players who were free agents going into the 2008 season, including star DE Tom Canada, OL's Dan Goodspeed & Matt Sheridan, signed for less money from the Bombers than other teams were prepared to pay them, in hopes of a Grey Cup run in '08. Tom Canada in praticular, reportedly turned down a much higher contract offer from the Montreal Aloutettes, to come back to Winnipeg.

On September 2, 2008 the bombers traded all star running back Charles Roberts to B.C. for Joe Smith. Then on September 8, 2008 they traded all star DE Tom Canada to Hamilton for Zeke Moreno. But on September 9, 2008 the trade was canceled due to the fact that Canada was injured and could not play for at least 10 weeks. So since they couldn't trade Canada they sent over Corey Mace and a First round pick for Moreno.

Current personnel

Current roster

Current staff


Head coaches

*Fred Ritter (1924–1929)
*Jack Millidge (1930)
*Pete Barnes (1931)
*Carl Cronin (1932–1933)
*Greg Kabat (1934)
*Bob Fritz (1935–1937)
*Reg Threlfall (1938–1944)
*Bert Warwick (1945)
*Jack West (1946–1948)
*Frank Larson (1949–1950)
*George Trafton (1951–1953)
*Allie Sherman (1954–1956)
*Bud Grant (1957–1966)
*Joe Zaleski (1967–1969)
*Jim Spavital (1970–1973)
*Bud Riley (1974–1977)
*Ray Jauch (1978–1982)
*Cal Murphy (1983–1986)
*Mike Riley (1987–1990)
*Darryl Rogers (1991)
*Urban Bowman (1992)
*Cal Murphy (1993–1996)
*Jeff Reinebold (1997–1998)
*Dave Ritchie (1999–2004)
*Jim Daley (2004–2005)
*Doug Berry (2006–present)

General managers

*Jim Ausley (1958–1964)
*Bud Grant (1965–1966)
*Joe Zaleski (1967)
*Earl Lunsford (1968–1982)
*Cal Murphy (1983–1996)
*Jeff Reinebold (1997–1998)
*Ken Bishop (1999)
*Lyle Bauer (2000–2001)
*Dave Ritchie (2002–2003)
*Brendan Taman (2004–present)


During the Blue Bombers' early years the team played at Osborne Stadium, a small stadium near the Manitoba Legislative Buildings. The fast passing-dominated play of Bombers quarterback Jack Jacobs dramatically increased attendance at Blue Bombers games and precipitated the need for a new, larger stadium. Winnipeg Stadium was built in the former city of St. James, west of Winnipeg, and the Blue Bombers began play there in 1953. The Blue Bombers continue to play at the stadium, though it has gone through significant changes over the years and is now known as Canad Inns Stadium.

In 2004 an initial proposal was released for a new stadium, to be located at the Assiniboia Downs, but the project was determined not to be feasible. In 2007 the Bombers officially began accepting proposals for a new stadium. As a result, 3 new proposals came in.

The first proposal released to the public was from David Asper, a Canwest Global executive. His proposal involved building a new $120 million stadium adjacent to the current facility. It would require $40 million each from Asper, the federal government, and the provincial government. In exchange for the $40 million from Asper, ownership of the community-owned team would have to be turned over to him. Asper would spend an additional $20 million to build a retail complex at the site. The federal government announced that it was not prepared to spend federal funds on this proposal.

The second proposal came from Leo Ledohowski, CEO of Canad Inns. His proposal involved building a $500 million domed stadium complex on the Public Markets site. It also included retail complexes, both at the Public Markets and at the site of the current stadium. Revenue from this would go to the team. Additionally, a Canad Inns hotel and a waterpark were part of this proposal. Ledohowski's plan would keep the team community-owned.

The third proposal was rejected and never released publicly.

On May 1, 2007, the board of governors announced they had given approval to the Asper plan.


*Despite Winnipeg's being a western Canadian city, the Blue Bombers have played many seasons (1987 to 1994, 1997 to 2001 and 2006 to present) in the Eastern Division to keep the number of teams in each division somewhat equal, with six switches total since 1987. With the suspension of the Ottawa Renegades team for the 2006 season, the Blue Bombers returned to the Eastern Division for at least the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
*The only current CFL city whose team has never played Winnipeg for the championship is Montreal.
*Labatt Blue, a widely-known beer in Canada, was named after the Blue Bombers. []
*The Bombers are the only team that has won every award (see for list of trophies) in the CFL.
* In 1951 Jack Jacobs became the first pro football quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season with 3,248. That year he was also the first pro football quarterback to throw for at least 30 touchdowns, with 33. The next year he bested that mark with 34.
* In 1981 wide receiver Eugene Goodlow became the first CFL played to reach the century mark in receptions in a season. Goodlow caught 100 passes for 1,494 yards and 14 touchdowns.
* That season the Bombers became one of the first teams to have three receivers with at least 1,000 yards in a season. Goodlow with 1,494; Joe Poplawski with 1,271; and Rick House with 1,102.

Team facts

:Founded: 1930

:Helmet design: Gold background, with a blue "W", lightning bolt and football

:Uniform colours: Blue, gold and white.

:Stadium: Osborne Stadium (1935-1952), Canad Inns Stadium (known as Winnipeg Stadium from 1953 to 2002) (1953-present)

:Local radio: CJOB 680 (AM radio) 99.5 (Cable FM)

:Eastern Division championships: 7 — 1987, 1990, 1992, 1993, 2001, 2007

:Western Division championships: 13 — 1936, 1939,1941, 1947, 1950, 1952, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1972

:Grey Cup finals appearances: 23 — 1935 (won), 1937 (lost), 1938 (lost) 1939 (won), 1941 (won), 1945 (lost), 1946 (lost), 1947 (lost), 1950 (lost), 1953 (lost), 1957 (lost), 1958 (won), 1959 (won), 1961 (won), 1962 (won), 1965 (lost), 1984 (won), 1988 (won), 1990 (won), 1992 (lost), 1993 (lost), 2001 (lost), 2007(lost),

:"'Grey Cup wins: 10 — 1935, 1939, 1941, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1984, 1988, 1990

:Division history: Western Football Conference (1961-1979), West Division (1980-1986), East Division (1987-1995), North Division (1995), West Division(1996), East Division (1997-2001), West Division (2002-2005), East Division (2006-present)

: Main rivals: Saskatchewan Roughriders (see Labour Day Classic and Banjo Bowl) & the Toronto Argonauts whom they met in the 2007 East Final.

:2006 regular season record: 9 wins, 9 losses, 0 ties.

:2007 regular season record: 10 wins, 7 losses, 1 ties.

Players of note

Canadian Football Hall of Famers

* Bennett, "Paul" - Inducted as a "Player" in 2002.
* Bonk, "John" - Inducted as a "Player" in 2008.
* Brock, "Ralph "Dieter" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1995.
* Browne, "Less" - Inducted as a "Player" in 2002.
* Casey, "Tom "Citation" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1964.
* Chipman, "Arthur" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1969.
* Clements, "Tom" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1994.
* Cronin, "Carl" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1967.
* Currie, "Andrew" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1974.
* Dunigan, "Matt" - Inducted as a "Player" in 2006.
* Frank, "Bill" - Inducted as a "Player" in 2001.
* Grant, "Harry Peter "Bud" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1983.
* Grant, "Tommy" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1995.
* Halter, "G. Sydney" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1966.
* Hannibal, "Frank" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1963.
* Hanson, "Fritz" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1963.
* Helton, "John" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1985.
* Huffman, "Dick" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1987.
* Hughes, "W.P. Billy" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1974.
* Jacobs, "Jack" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1963.
* James, "Eddie" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1963.
* James, "Gerry" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1981.
* Kabat, "Greg" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1996.
* Lear, "Les" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1974.
* Lewis, "Leo "Lincoln Locomotive" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1973.
* Lunsford, "Earl" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1983.
* McCance, "Chester "Ches" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1976.
* Murphy, "Cal" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 2004.
* Murphy, "James" - Inducted as a "Player" in 2000.
* Ploen, "Ken" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1975.
* Poplawski, "Joe" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1998.
* Rebholz, "Russ "The Wisconsin Wraith" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1963.
* Rigney, "Frank Joseph" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1984.
* Ryan, "Joseph B." - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1968.
* Slocomb, "Karl" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1989.
* Stevenson, "Art" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1969.
* Tinsley, "Robert Porter "Buddy" - Inducted as a "Player" in 1982.
* Walby, "Chris" - Inducted as a "Player" in 2003.
* Warwick, "Bert" - Inducted as a "Builder" in 1964.

Former coaches

*Jim Daley 2004-2005
*Dave Ritchie 1999-2004
*Jeff Reinebold 1997-1998
*Urban Bowman 1992 (served as interim Head Coach for Cal Murphy)
*Darryl Rogers 1991
*Mike Riley 1987-1990
*Cal Murphy 1983-1986, 1993-1997
*Ray Jauch 1978-1982
*Bud Riley 1974-1977
*Jim Spavital 1970-1973
*Joe Zaleski 1967-1969
*Bud Grant 1957-1966
*Al Sherman 1954-1956
*George Trafton 1951-1953
*Frank Larson 1949-1950
*Jack West 1946-1948
*Bert Warwick 1945
*Reg Threlfall 1938-1943
*Bob Fritz 1935-1937
*Greg Kabat 1934
*Carl Cronin 1932-1933
*Pete Barnes 1931 (co-coached)
*Jack Millidge 1931 (co-coached)
*Fred Ritter 1930

All-Time 75th Anniversary Team

* Battle, "Greg"
* Brock, "Ralph "Dieter"
* Clements, "Tom"
* Gray, "Herb"
* Cameron, "Bob"
* Casey, "Tom"
* Hanson, "Fritz"
* House, "Rick"
* Jacobs, "Jack"
* James, "Gerry"
* Murphy, "James"
* Ploen, "Ken"
* Rigney, "Frank"
* Roberts, "Charles"
* Kennerd, "Trevor"
* Lewis, "Leo"
* Poplawski, "Joe"
* Reaves, "Willard"
* Stegall, "Milt"
* Walby, "Chris"

Not to be forgotten

*Nick Bastaja
*Daved Benefield
*David Black
*Bob Cameron
*Bill Ceretti
*Chuck Ealey
*Joe Fleming
*Robert Gordon
*Kyries Hebert
*Brian Herosian
*Rod Hill
*Alfred Jackson
*Tim Jessie
*Tony Johns
*Khari Jones
*Trevor Kennerd
*Stan Mikawos
*Robert Mimbs
*Bob Molle
*Willard Reaves
*Sean Salisbury
*Mike Sellers
*Charlie Shephard
*James West
*Troy Westwood
*Dan Wicklum
*Gerald Wilcox
*Jim Zorn

Team members successful elsewhere

*Ed Schultz, talk show host
*Tommy Europe, The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp host
*Michael Coulson, appeared on American Gladiators

See also

* List of Fan Owned Teams
* Canadian Football Hall of Fame
* Canadian football
* Comparison of Canadian and American football
* List of CFL seasons


* Bob Irving (edited by). "Blue & Gold: 75 Years of Blue Bomber Glory", 2005. ISBN 1-894283-59-7
* Official statistics of the WIFU, CFC and CFL, 1950 to 2007
* "CFL Facts, Figures and Records" 1985 to 2007
* Winnipeg Blue Bomber Media Guides 2006 and 2007

External links

* [ Winnipeg Blue Bombers official site]
* [ CJOB Radio Live broadcasts of all Blue Bomber games]
* [ Unofficial Winnipeg Blue Bomber fansite]
* [ Winnipeg Blue Bombers History]
* [ Blue Bombers History and Time Line]
* [ Official Site of the proposed Winnipeg Blue Bomber Stadium]

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