Classic Memories | 1978 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.


BLUE BOMBERS  31 ROUGHRIDERS 29 

Date: September 4, 1978

Attendance: 22,451

The matchup: Blue Bombers (3-4) vs. Roughriders (1-6)

The story: The records don’t jump out as making for a classic, but the quarterback matchup does with Winnipeg’s Ralph Brock facing Saskatchewan legend Ron Lancaster. The future Canadian Football Hall of Famers filled the skies that afternoon, as Brock threw for 270 yards and a TD to Gord Patterson while Lancaster had 321 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Bombers running back Richard Crump set a club record with a 103-yard run late in the fourth quarter in what was the decisive score. The game was played in extreme heat, 35C, and afterward and Bombers defensive backs Vince Phason and Reggie Pierson were taken to hospital by ambulance when the team’s flight returned to Winnipeg.

Notable: The 1978 season would be hardly memorable for either the Bombers or the Riders – Saskatchewan finished 4-11-1 and out of the playoffs while Winnipeg was third at 9-7 and was bounced 38-4 by Calgary in the West Semi-Final with Brock sidelined and Harry Knight, the No. 2 man, working with a bum shoulder.

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