Classic Memories | 1951 Labour Day Classic

No doubt there will be heartfelt arguments issued from the fan bases in Edmonton and Calgary, Toronto and Hamilton.

But to many who follow the Canadian Football League no rivalry comes close to matching the annual Prairie showdowns between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

And that rivalry reaches its regular season zenith during the weeks of the Labour Day Classic and the Banjo Bowl – the back-to-back showdowns between the Bombers and Riders in Regina, then Winnipeg, in early September.

These two weeks are must-see events on the CFL calendar and that’s what makes the cancellation of the 2020 season so particularly painful.

That won’t stop us from reminiscing all week, as we re-live some of the great moments in the history of the Labour Day Classic.


Date: September 3, 1951

Attendance: 12,028

The matchup: Blue Bombers (1-2) vs. Roughriders (3-0)

The story: The Bombers trailed 21-6 after three quarters as head coach George Trafton used his second stringers for the first 45 minutes to avoid any more injuries, including to quarterback Jack Jacobs who was nursing a bum leg.

But Trafton went to his starters in the final quarter and Jacobs came off the bench to throw three touchdown passes in eight minutes – to Buch Korchak, Ron Vaccher and Andy Sokol – to rally the visitors to victory in front of a capacity crowd at Taylor Field.

Notable: Jacobs was 10 of 13 in the final quarter… With Jacobs not handling the punting chores due to a store leg, guard/tackle Buddy Tinsley stepped in to help, kicking barefoot.

Quotable: “After the thrilling victory, we were wondering whether or not some Winnipeg fans would be sort of hiding their heads a little bit. When Bombers lost to Regina last Thursday night in Osborne Stadium, we heard quite a few of the fans muttering what a ‘bum ball team the Bombers are this season.’

“George Trafton began receiving phone calls from some fans wanting to know why he wasn’t doing a better job. Some of these phone calls were made in the middle of the night and needless to say Trafton was becoming just a little bit peeved. Probably some people will be a little more patient in regards to the ball team now.” – Gorde Hunter of The Winnipeg Tribune, September 4, 1951

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