59th Grey Cup

59th Grey Cup

The 59th Grey Cup was played on November 28, 1971, before 34,404 fans at Vancouver's Empire Stadium.

The Calgary Stampeders beat the Toronto Argonauts on a slick rain covered field in an extremely close 14 to 11 match.

Box Score

First Quarter

Calgary - TD - Herm Harrison 14 yard pass from Jerry Keeling (Larry Robinson convert)

Second Quarter

Toronto - FG - Ivan MacMillan 11 yards
Calgary - TD - Jesse Mims 6 yard run (Larry Robinson convert)

Third Quarter

Toronto - TD - Roger Scales 33 yard fumble return (lateral from Joe Vijuk) (Ivan MacMillan convert)
Toronto - Rouge - Ivan MacMillan 27 yard missed FG

Fourth Quarter

No scoring

The Game

The Argos had high hopes that this, their first Grey Cup appearance since 1952, would end in victory. It had been raining on this cold November day and sheets of water lay over the artificial turf at Vancouver's Empire Stadium.

Calgary opened with a Keeling to Harrison passing touchdown. Toronto countered with a big play, a 55-yard pass reception by fan favourite tight end Mel Profit, but would come away from this drive deep into Stampeder territory with only a field goal.

Jesse Mims added another Stampeder major, ending the scoring for the half and for Calgary on the day.

The second half saw Theismann replaced by "Greg Barton", but the Argos could not move the ball.

Their only touchdown came when sure-handed Calgary punt returner Jim Silye dropped a kick which was then recovered by Joe Vijuk. Vijuk had the presence of mind to lateral to Roger Scales, who ran 33 yards for the touchdown.

Dick Thornton, a great two way player who had already made a fantastic reception, intercepted a Calgary pass and returned it to the Calgary 11-yard line. With Theismann back in the game, he handed the ball off to Leon McQuay, the Argonauts' star running back. He cut left across the field, and promptly slipped and fumbled the ball, which was recovered Stampeder Reggie Holmes.

Toronto still had a chance as there was 1:53 left in the game, and Calgary was in a deep hole. Not getting a first down they had to punt. Unfortunately, the punt returner, Harry Abofs, in an effort to capture the wet ball, accidentally kicked it out of bounds while reaching down. CFL rules state that when a ball is kicked out of bounds, possession goes to the other team so Calgary resumed possession. If Abofs had knocked the ball out of bounds with his hand, Toronto would have had one last chance.

But that he did not do, and Calgary was the 1971 Grey Cup champion.


The 10-4 Argonauts faced the 9-6-1 Stampeders for the first time in the Grey Cup. Both teams finished in first place in their divisions, but Toronto, led by star rookie quarterback Joe Theismann was the favourite. Calgary was making their second straight appearance in the Grey Cup game, but had not won it since the famous 1948 game. Toronto had nearly as long a drought, with their last victory coming in 1952.

The 1971 Grey Cup was the first to be played on artificial (tartan) turf.

Argonaut coach Leo Cahill, who won the 1971 Coach of the Year award, would later say, "When Leon (McQuay) slipped, I fell." He was fired in 1972 after the team, beset by injuries, stumbled to a 3-11 finish.

Jim Silye was later a Member of Parliament for Calgary.

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