SLAM!Sports
October 31, 2004
Finally, after four decades ...
Monty Ford did live to see Huskies win it!
By TERRY JONES, EDMONTON SUN

It was the middle of the fourth quarter and Monty Ford was emotional in two different directions. "I didn't think I'd ever live to see this day,'' said the 84-year-old who was the trainer of the Edmonton Huskies from the beginning in the early 1950s to the mid-'90s.

"And I'm still not sure I'm going to live to see it, damn it. These guys have fallen asleep!'' he said as the Okanagan Sun tried to mount a comeback.

He lived to see it.

Eventually the gun sounded and for the first time in 40 years - for the first time since the three-in-a-row run of 1962-63-64 - the Huskies had won the Little Grey Cup.

Coach Mike McLean was on the field as the RCMP red coats paraded the trophy, now known as the Canadian Bowl, to the field when former Husky and ex-Eskimo Tom Richards, wearing an old team jacket he could no longer zip up, grabbed him in a bear hug.

"You're the lead dog,'' he said. "This is yours. You're the man who turned the program around.''

Up in the Eskimos alumni room more than a dozen members of the '60s team slapped each other on the back.

"Forty years is a long time,'' said George Spanach, a member of the three-in-row team who went on to play with the Eskimos. "We don't mind losing our claim to fame. This is great. We'd like to see them keep it going and get a real run going again.''

FEEL-GOOD SCENES ALL AROUND

As much as there were feel-good scenes all around Commonwealth Stadium yesterday as the Huskies defeated the Okanagan Sun 24-7, this one belonged to the young men who were on the field.

Players like game-MVP quarterback Kelly McBryan, defensive lineman Justin Cooper, receiver Symon Pfau, running back Tyler O'Gorman, linebacker Jason Bobst, running back Josh Myshak, kicker Steven Wozimirsky ...

"We won this as a team,'' said second-year man O'Gorman. "We're all happiest for the five-year guys, but we did this as a team.''

Championship teams, in any sport, as the saying goes, walk together for the rest of their lives.

"For a five-year guy playing his last game you couldn't ask for anything better than this,'' said quarterback McBryan.

I'm not sure he'll be remembered 40 years later like Tony Rankel, the quarterback of that '60s team, or some of the guys like Ron Forwick, Warren Hansen, Larry Bird, Ian McLeod, Clarence Kachman, Al Gordichuk and some of those guys. Junior football was a bigger deal back then.

But these young men at least had their 15 minutes of fame and put their names on a game. And, if organizers can raise about $20,000 in the community in the next few weeks, they'll have championship rings.

The game drew 4,313, the largest crowd for the final in years. And, it raised about $20,000 profit, the largest in eons. That goes to junior football in Canada. These Huskies deserve the ring. This was a special title. And some of those guys from 40 years ago will be first in line to be sure they get them.

SCRIPT WRITER IN THE SKY

You'd have figured the great script writer in the sky would have written it the other way for the 10-0 visitors whose best player Jeff Halvorson dropped dead at practice in September.

Halvorson won the junior football player of the year trophy the night before, not because he died, but because of his statistics in the half-season he played. His picture rested on an easel at the end of the bench and his framed jersey sat on the bench, going to the dressing room with the team at the half.

But it was a 'smashing pumpkins' win. The Huskies turned the A&W costumed club into three dozen Teen Burgers and nobody was happier than Pfau, a second-year player and who was a local kid who chose to be an Okanagan Sun player last year.

"I went there because I was basically a little immature,'' he said. "I thought I'd have a better opportunity to start. It took me a year to figure out that it meant more to play here and be part of an Edmonton team.

''And we are a team. We can honestly say we earned it. We worked harder than any other team in Canada. We stuck together as a team and we're going to come back and win this again because of what we learned working as hard as we did for each other this year.

''We're going to lose some veterans. But we have some good young players behind them to step in now, too. We have a good program now and a good coach.''

If you build it, they will come.

"This one took 40 years. The next one should be easier,'' said McLean. "We're going to get on recruiting for next year right away. Now I think we can put together a run of teams which can start the season believing they can win their last game.

"We have a good foundation here again. This is a validation of all the work we have done here. We have a good foundation here again.''


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