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CATS MOST REDEEMED CUP CHAMPION

CATS STILL MOST REDEEMED CUP CHAMPION OF LAST 30 SEASONS

BY JOHN WILLIAMS

Congratulations to the Montreal Alouettes for winning their second Grey Cup in seven tries during the past decade.

But the class of the CFL over the last 10 seasons certainly had Lady Luck on their side thanks to the Riders’ extra man on the Als’ first game-winning field goal attempt.

But if justice was served based on regular season accomplishment, the 15-3 Als earned their just reward despite nearly falling for the sixth time in seven attempts in the New Millennium.

If I was an Alouette fan I would be happy with the outcome but forever guilt-ridden that they were heavily favoured to defeat the resilient Riders.

A great regular season team since 2000 but still something of a perennial choker in the BIG GAME the last 10 seasons. And yesterday was (almost) no different.

AND THEREIN THE LIES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CATS OF THE 1980s AND THE ALS OF THIS DECADE.

It was 23 years ago today the Tiger Cats annihilated the Edmonton Eskimos 39-15 to win the 74th Grey Cup. It was the Cats’ fourth appearance in the title game in seven seasons.

On the heels of an 8-7-1 campaign, the Cats fell 48-10 to the Eskimos in 1980. Yes, the Eskimos were destined to win big but the Tabbies hung in for 30 minutes trailing 24-9 at the half.

With no cross-over in place in 1984, the Cats took a 5-11 squad to the final only to be crushed 47-17 by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. But they did make themselves accountable in the first half, leading 14-0 after one quarter.

An 8-8 team fell to the BC Lions 37-24 in the 1985 championship. They led the Lions 15-14 in the second quarter before punter Lou Passaglia eluded Mitchell Price on a botched punt attempt to earn the first down and the Leos never looked back.

And a 9-8-1 team in 1986 was no different. But Hamilton rallied from a 26-point deficit in the second game of the Eastern Conference two-game, total point series against Toronto, to win the series and qualify for the Grey Cup. And despite being 14-point underdogs to the Esks, the Cats took a 29-0 half-time lead thanks to Steve Stapler and Jim Rockford majors and five Paul Osbaldiston field goals.

The Cats extended their lead to 36-0 early in the third quarter with a Ron Ingram major and the game was over. The 39-15 victory clearly redeemed the Tiger Cats for lopsided losses earlier in the decade and the disappointing loss in 1985.

Yes they fell 43-40 to the Green Riders in 1989 in what many consider the greatest Grey Cup ever played. But despite earning only five first downs in the second half compared to Saskatchewan’s 13 - Hamilton may walk forever tall as it was blatantly obvious the officials were clearly in the Riders’ corner that day.

Five Grey Cup appearances in the 1980s and four losses including two one sided defeats.

But on Sunday November 30th, 1986, the Cats made complete amends with their thrashing of Edmonton and three years later further etched themselves into Grey Cup history in a thrilling loss to Saskatchewan.

Yes the Alouettes captured the 97th Grey Cup yesterday - their second title in seven attempts this decade - to coincide with their win over Edmonton in 2002.

And they were never badly outplayed in their five losses the way Hamilton was early in the 1980s. They've also owned the league during the regular season throughout this decade.

But I’ll forever take the REDEEMED Tiger Cats of 1986 and their 1-4 Grey Cup record of the same decade - over the 2-5 champion Als of the New Millennium and their LADY LUCK win over Saskatchewan on Sunday.

Because that's all it was - JUST LUCK!!!

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