Winnipeg Blue Bombers banner.
A Western Canada powerhouse, Winnipeg founded its Rugby Football Club in 1897. Rugby Football became so popular in Winnipeg that in 1888, the Manitoba Rugby Football Union was formed with three teams competing in the province; the Winnipeg Victorias, the Winnipeg St. John's (this team consisted of students from the University of Manitoba), and the Royal School of Infantry.
These three football clubs grew and expanded, and in 1930 all three clubs amalgamated and formed the Winnipeg Winnipegs Rugby Football Club, and became a member of the Western Rugby Football Union (WIFU).
Winnipeg made their first Grey Cup appearance in 1935, when the Winnipegs defeated the Hamilton Tigers 18-12, making Winnipeg the first Western city to win the Grey Cup. This Grey Cup was the first and last time the Winnipeg Winnipegs would ever win a Grey Cup.
The next significant date occurred in 1936, when Vince Leah famed journalist of the defunct Winnipeg Tribute, coined the phrase that would become the name Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Leah wrote in the Tribute when Winnipeg was playing an exhibition game against the University of North Dakota, "These are the Blue Bombers of Western football". Referring to Winnipeg's blue and gold colour scheme and also the heavyweight boxing champion at that time Joe Louis, a.k.a. the Brown Bomber.
Program for Winnipeg and the University of North Dakota game.
30 September 1930
Osborne Stadium, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
After a 4-4 season in 1937, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers made their second Grey Cup appearance in team history, in which they lost 4-3 to the Toronto Argonauts. In the 1938 season, The Blue Bombers compiled a 6-2 record under new head coach Reg Threlfall and made their second straight appearance to the Grey Cup, and much like the previous season lost to the Argonauts 30-7.
In 1939, Winnipeg finished the season 10-2, and defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders 8-7 to capture their first Grey Cup as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Instead of getting championship rings for their Grey Cup victory, Winnipeg decided to get Bulova watches.
Reg Threlfall 1939 championship watch.
In 1940, though they finished the season with a 6-2 record, the Bombers for the first time did not play for the Grey Cup that season.
In 1941, Winnipeg returned to the Grey Cup under the guidance of Reg Threlfall. Having finished the regular season with a 6-2 record, and defeated the Regina Roughriders in the West final total point playoff series. Winnipeg's opponent in this year's Grey Cup was the Ottawa Rough Riders again, and much like last time, defeated Ottawa 18-16.
Reg Threlfall's Grey Cup jacket that was awarded to him after Winnipeg's victory.
The Blue Bombers celebrating their victory.
29 November 1941
Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
While there were no WIFU games from 1942-1946 due to World War II (in 1944 there was no team at all), the Blue Bombers still managed to participate in two Grey Cup games in 1943 and 1945, losing both contests to Hamilton and Toronto respectively. In 1946 the WIFU resumed operations, and under the guidance of their head coach Jack West, the Blue Bombers once again met the Argonauts in the Grey Cup, but once again defeated 28-6. In 1947 Toronto and Winnipeg once again played in the Grey Cup, and much like seasons previous, the Argonauts were triumphant. In 1948 and 1949, Winnipeg did not make the Grey Cup playoffs.
In the 1950 season, the Blue Bombers return to the Grey Cup and once again played their Grey Cup rivals, the Toronto Argonauts. The 1950 Grey Cup was also known as the Mud Bowl, due to the fact of the terrible field conditions at Varsity Stadium from a heavy snow fall from the night before. During the game, it was necessary to bring a snow removal truck, which damaged the turf even more. As the snow turned into rain, the field turned into to mud so deep that the truck became stuck, and had to be towed out by a tractor, further damaging the field. The Bombers found it difficult to manage these conditions, and lost to Toronto again 13-0.
The next significant season was in 1953, when Winnipeg returned to the Grey Cup but ultimately lost to Hamilton 11-6.
In 1957, Winnipeg made their third Grey Cup appearance in this decade and first of three consecutive Grey Cup appearances. In 1957, Winnipeg lost to Hamilton 32-7.
During the next two seasons, Winnipeg and Hamilton played for the Grey Cup, which Winnipeg won both of their encounters 35-28 and 21-7 respectively.
A newspaper about Winnipeg winning the Grey Cup.
29 November 1958
Toronto Daily Star
1959 Grey Cup champions.
Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada