Esks need a Labour Day history lesson

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:05 PM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos don't need a head coach to provide them with an inspirational, motivational speech before the Labour Day Classic.

They need a historian.

They don't need people to be reminding them how they reeked in the same stadium against the same team two games ago, giving up a franchise-record-equaling 56 points and setting a record for the biggest margin of defeat in their entire history, a 56-15 humiliation against their provincial rivals.

That's not the history lesson they require.

So few of these players have been around long enough to transfer the legend and lore of Labour Day in Calgary to this Eskimos team. They need to produce somebody to tell these guys the tales of Labour Days past and the amazing things that have happened in the first 44 years of the ultimate regular-season game in the CFL.

They need some scholarly-looking fellow, with wild eyebrows wearing a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows, corduroy pants and a bow tie, to explain how stuff happens on Labour Day.

They need the guy to stand in front of them, sucking his pipe and informing them that for a 2-6 team, which lost 56-15 three weeks earlier, to go to Calgary and beat a 7-1 team would merely be normal when it comes to Labour Day.

The historian could tell them about 1962.

That relates in reverse.

The Stampeders had won only one of their first six games that year. But on Labour Day they beat the Eskimos 49-17.

Or 1968, when the Eskimos had won one of six and went in to McMahon and beat the 5-2 Stampeders.

Or 1975, when the Eskimos were down 29-2 at the half and Journal sports columnist Wayne Overland caught a cab and flew home, only to have the pilot inform the passengers that Edmonton had bounced back to win.

Or 1978, when the Eskimos went into the game 6-1 and settled with a 28-28 tie against a Calgary team that had only three wins in their first seven games -- a Calgary team which would go on to only lose one the rest of the year.

Or a year later when a 5-2 Calgary team lost Labour Day 27-1 to the Eskimos.

This sort of stuff happens annually, sometimes with a twist.

In 1982, a fifth loss in six games on Labour Day resulted in a famous post-game dressing room speech by coach Hugh Campbell that inspired the Eskimos to run the table in the last 10 games of the season, and win a fifth consecutive Grey Cup.

In 1986, the Eskimos had lost three of their last four and the Stampeders' came in on a three-game winning streak -- and Edmonton won Labour Day 42-19.

A year later, when Calgary had lost six of eight and Edmonton had won four of five, the Stampeders won 29-20.

In 1992, the Stampeders went in with a 6-2 record and lost Labour Day 34-21.

In 1993, the Eskimos had six wins in the standings going into the game and got clobbered 33-13.

A year later Edmonton went in with the same six wins and got throttled even worse, 48-15.

And the next year: seven wins for the Eskimos going in this time; and a 51-26 Labour Day loss.

And a year later. Six wins going in. A 31-13 loss to the Stamps on Labour Day.

Or a year after that. Seven wins going in again. And yet another Labour Day loss, this one only 27-14.

Or the following year. Six wins again. Labour Day loss 26-8.

Finally, after those consecutive happenings, in 1999 the Eskimos won another Labour Day. In overtime.

They went into that one with a 2-6 record while Calgary went in a 6-2.

Then, in 2000, the Stamps were 6-1-1 going in to Labour Day. Lost 31-10.

Go back to only 2003 and there was a classic that totally compares to the Eskimos situation going into this game.

Calgary went into Labour Day on a seven-game losing streak, having lost their previous three games by scores of 48-4, 30-7, and 52-17.

But Calgary won on Labour Day.

Stuff happens on Labour Day.

If there were only somebody around the Eskimos could find to inform their clueless club of all the stuff that has happened in this game and provide them with the inspiration and motivation to convince them it absolutely can happen for them, for one reason and one reason only: it's Labour Day.


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