Classic Memories | 1987 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 6, 1987

Attendance: 27,457

The matchup: Blue Bombers (6-2) vs. Roughriders (2-6-1)

The story: The Bombers had busted out of the starting gates with a 4-0 record to begin the season, but were just 2-3 in their next five games heading into the Labour Day Classic.

The Riders carried a 25-15 lead into the game’s final minutes before Bombers QB Tom Clements & Co. authored a little magic. First, Clements connected with James Murphy with 1:21 left to pull the Bombers to within a field goal at 25-22. Clements then hit Perry Tuttle for a 37-yard strike with 56 remaining for a second TD in 25 seconds and the four-point victory.

Worth noting is Riders K Dave Ridgway connected on a 60-yard field goal during the game, which was then a CFL record. It has since been eclipsed by another Rider, Paul McCallum, who hit a 62 yarder in a game against Edmonton in 2001.

Notable: The 1987 Bombers squad was one of the franchise’s best-ever not to win a championship. The team finished first in the East with a 12-6 record, but were upset 19-3 by Toronto in the East Final at Winnipeg Stadium.

The Bombers had three players win major awards that second with Clements being named the CFL Most Outstanding Player, safety Scott Flagel the Most Outstanding Canadian and Chris Walby the Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman. Linebacker James West was the runner-up in the Most Outstanding Defensive Player category.

As well, 10 Bombers players were named to the CFL All-Star Team: Clements, Flagel, Walby, West, along with receiver Perry Tuttle, running back Willard Reaves, linebacker Tyrone Jones, cornerbacks Roy Bennett and James Jefferson and defensive back Ken Hailey.

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