August 27, 2019

The Rivalry: Part 2

With this year’s Labour Day home-and-home series featuring the two top teams in the CFL, is taking a five-part look at the history of the Battle of Alberta.

When the CFL turned the annual Labour Day Classic into a two-game, home-and-home set with a short week format in 1989 it created a whole new level of intensity for the Edmonton-Calgary battle.

Two games in five days against an inter-conference rival could mean a huge difference in the final standings and each team’s playoff aspirations. Winning both ends of the home-and-home set could be a springboard to late-season success.



The Eskimos won both games en route to a record-breaking regular season.

Edmonton went into Calgary on a five-game winning streak and the best record in the CFL at 7-1. Defensive end Stewart Hill earned lineman of the week honours for his two-sack, three-tackle performance that sparked the Eskimos to a 31-14 win in Calgary.

Four days later, the Eskimos overcame a 27-17 fourth-quarter deficit with three unanswered touchdowns for a 38-27 victory. While the Eskimos defence gave up more points than it had all season, the Tracy Ham led offence came alive in the end. Ham struggled in the first half but ran 15 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and fullback Blake Marshall bulled his way through the line for two fourth-quarters TDs.

The Eskimos celebrated their 40th anniversary in 1989 and set a record for most wins in a season (16), most points (644), most TDs (70), yards gained (7,951) and Ham set a league record for yards rushing by a quarterback in a season (1,051).



Calgary receiver Pee Wee Smith had boldly predicted a 21-point Stamps victory on Labour Day. Instead, Eskimo running backs Michael Soles and Marshall combined for 226 rushing yards en route to a 34-21 win.

Edmonton’s defence intercepted Doug Flutie six times. It was sweet revenge for a 45-38 loss at the hands of the Stamps 10 days earlier; In a one-season break from the annual Labour Day format the league had the Stampeders in Edmonton a week earlier. In that game, Flutie carried 13 times for 141 yards – the first time in 20 regular-season games the run-conscious Edmonton defence had allowed a player to rush for more than 100 yards.



The Eskimos won the Labour Day game, 33-30 in overtime on a controversial, game-ending call, but it was a day remembered for a streaker and unruly fans.

Calgary coach Wally Buono elected not to try a game-tying field goal and went for the win on the final play. Officials ruled Mike McCoy failed to get across the goal-line on a quarterback sneak, by the length of the football.

Edmonton’s bare-footed kicker Jon Baker,nailed a 52-yard field goal at 13.39 of the fourth quarter to tie it 30-30 and then kicked a 47-yard field goal on the final play of the first OT period.

Many of the capacity crowd at McMahon Stadium got out of hand, throwing beer cans at each other and at police and security personnel on the field. Police laid numerous charges and dozens of fans were ejected.

Less than 100 hours later, it was a different story. Calgary QB Dave Dickenson threw for 457 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Stamps to a 38-13 victory before 52,458 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.

“They gave us an old-fashioned butt-whipping,” said halfback Torey Hunter.

Stay tuned to tomorrow for part three of “The Rivalry,” covering historical moments in the Labour Day series from 2000-04.