Axe not the cheerleaders

The news broke today that the Montreal Alouettes have disbanded their cheerleading / dance group.

Citing financial concerns, the Montreal Alouettes have disbanded their cheerleading squad ahead of the 2020 season.
“This decision has nothing to do with the hard work (the cheerleaders) put in, or their popularity,” said Charles Rooke, the Alouettes president of communications. “In the current context of financial turnaround, difficult decisions must be made.”

This is sad. And weird, because they’re keeping the coach around (to work as Director General of the Alouettes Foundation) but axing a very talented group.

It’s also shortsighted, and wrong. Here’s why.

it’s a package

People have options these days. Watching a football game from the comfort of your own home in front of your 65″ TV in a luxurious armchair has a lot of appeal. The challenge for a league like the CFL is to get people to come to the games.

what if it was just football

Here’s a thought experiment. Suppose the only thing going on was the football game itself. No cheerleaders. No mascot. No live music. No T-shirt-tosses or other stunts. Just football. Montreal vs Toronto out there bashing in to each other.

How many people would come, if it was just football? You’d have 1,000 diehards, people who really know the Xs and Os of the game, people who are anxiously watching defensive alignments and discussing the minutia of pass interference. They would have a great time, but another 20,000 people would be fidgety, bored, confused, and, most likely, would actually be at home watching something else.

what you really need

There aren’t nearly enough “pure football” fans to make the business work. In 2020, the game isn’t enough. You need a full game-day experience. And that means having

  • a team with a reasonable chance of winning
  • cheerleaders and a dance team
  • a mascot
  • live music
  • giveaways
  • stunts
  • stuff going on before the game, outside the stadium
  • lots of loud and crazy fans contributing to the spectacle.

Now, for any item X on that list, you’ll find people who say “I don’t care about X.” Fine. But there aren’t enough of you! This has to appeal to everybody. And cheerleaders and live music and everything else are all part of the package.

I think the Alouettes, and their new owners, are making a mistake here. (The fact that the new owners are from Ontario isn’t helping, but at least they got off to a good start by proclaiming at an early interview that the Argos suck.)

money? it’s about money?

I have no idea what the operation in Montreal cost, although the Als did mention on Facebook that their cheerleaders are getting paid per game. That isn’t the only model that could work. Surely there are sponsorship opportunities. Maybe a volunteering model with fees for outside appearances makes sense. (I’m honestly not sure how it works in other cities, but I do know that every CFL cheer squad works hard to raise money to travel to the Grey Cup, which won’t be the same without Montreal’s excellent group.)

(Also as you might imagine, I have a little CFL game-day experience. Argonotes, the Until Recently Argonauts Band was completely volunteer-based and never got a dime from the team, although the Drum Line was being paid. Lots of different models can work. But as you might have heard, the Argos and Argonotes parted ways in 2017. I wrote down why, somewhere. I forget exactly.)

ditching the cheerleaders is not right.

If the new owners are that short of money that they can’t keep the cheerleaders going, maybe they aren’t ready for this.

Should you move down to a better seat?

It’s a question that theatre goers and sports fans have asked themselves for years. There’s a better seat over there. Why don’t we move down to it? What’s the harm.

We saw this happen several times at Saturday’s Argos/Redblacks game. For once we had pretty good seats, in the sixth row near the center of the field behind the Ottawa bench, and admittedly there were quite a few empty seats in the area (which is a problem that’s very hard to solve, apparently, but I am going to keep going to Argo games until this works!)

And quite a few people snuck down to our section – and a BMO staff person was politely shooing them away. Many were, I think, parents of the large dance group that was performing at halftime – and the staffer asked them to come back when halftime started when a lot of people leave anyway, just not right now while the game’s still on – but some were just fans wanting a better view than the one they’d paid for. I don’t envy the BMO staffer having to be the heavy, but they have a job to do.

So should you move down?


Well, let me modify that. You could try, but if someone calls you out on it, you should move back to your original seat.

It seems tempting, doesn’t it. What’s the harm if I sit in that unoccupied seat?

This is strong language, but you are cheating and stealing from the team if you do that.

Try this the next time you’re on an airplane. Can I sit in that empty business class seat? We’re all flying to the same place. It’s going to take the same amount of fuel whether I sit in the back or not. Forget the fancy meal, I just want to sit here. Can I? I suspect they’d say “no.”

People often wonder why a team with lots of empty seats doesn’t give away a billion free tickets either. Both things have the same answer: It cheapens the product. If people know they can pay $20 for a cheap seat and move to a $90 expensive seat later, why would they buy an expensive seat? Or why wouldn’t they just wait for a free ticket? You’re sending the message that the experience is only worth $20 or less.

It’s bad for business, IMHO, and we all want our team to succeed, we need all the seats filled with paying customers.

Randy Cohen, the former New York Times Ethicist columnist, wrote about this years ago. I like Randy – former Letterman writer – and I bought his books, but I think he’s wrong. (He was also wrong about whether you should recline your seat on the airplane, but I think I straightened him out on that one.)

It wasn’t a Triple Reverse. Not even a “double reverse.” Maybe a 1.5

Here at, we are not afraid to discuss the big issues, the topics that matter, the truly important questions that unite us all.

Be that as it may, today we’ll do some football nitpicking.

The Argos played Montreal in a very entertaining “home” game in Moncton last weekend and although the outcome wasn’t quite what we wanted, there were some great plays.

Including this one.

Which everybody – TSN commentator Rod Black, even the CFL’s official account – wants to call a triple reverse.

Let’s watch it again, shall we? Here’s the official call. See our additional video analysis below.

OK. I am no football expert, but I’m pretty good at counting (and I have the math degree to prove it.)

A reverse is where you hand the ball to one player A who runs one way, and then he hands it to player B, who’s running the opposite, or reverse way.

In a double reverse, player B hands it to someone else – maybe A, maybe a third player, but let’s call them C – who is running the opposite way, which is now the original way.

Still with me? A double reverse has TWO reverses in it, right?

A triple reverse is incredibly rare. C would have to hand the ball off to D, who is running the opposite opposite opposite way. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one. (If you find a video of one, let me know.)

So what’s going on in this play from Moncton?
* The quarterback, Vernon Adams Jr, hands off the ball to #24, Jeremiah Johnson
* Johnson runs to the sideline, hands the ball to #9, Jake Wieneke.
* Wieneke heads the other way, back towards the quarterback. This is a reverse.
* Wieneke pitches the ball back to the quarterback. This is not quite a reverse, the quarterback isn’t moving the opposite way
* The quarterback throws it down the field and … well the rest isn’t important.

And yet, TSN’s Rod Black called it a Triple Reverse and the CFL has even bragged about it. Just because there’s three guys handling the ball doesn’t make it a triple reverse.

Here, then, is our investigative report.

followup: my thanks to Anthony Reimer who kindly pointed out, post investigation, and beyond the point where I felt like editing the video any more, that the best terminology for this is probably a reverse, followed by a flea flicker.

On selling football

Selling Football

(Some thoughts condensed from a series of tweets you might have already read.)

Last night Nick and I greatly enjoyed seeing the Argos beat Winnipeg for their first win of the season. It was a very entertaining game where the Argos overcame a 20-0 deficit to win 28-27.
Nick and Me pregame

As usual the process of logging in to Ticketmaster to download and print my tickets was a pain – yeah, I know, I should use the app, I really do know a thing or two about apps, but I also like having paper tickets. (I like paper boarding passes at the airport too.)

It was a great night in the CFL. Saskatchewan beat Hamilton in the late game – The two home teams win exciting games in the last minute, and their big rivals both lose too. Wish it could be like this every game day.

Also as usual everybody is wringing their hands about the number of empty seats at the game. Here are some thoughts I jotted down.

Most articles you read about a football game focus on the football details, the minutia of passing percentages. The Xs and Os, as they say.

But IMHO, that kind of talk won’t get enough people out of their living rooms to come to the stadium.

Here are Reasons to come to Toronto Argos games:

  • great facility
  • beautiful weather
  • cheap tickets
  • $5 beer
  • $3 hotdogs
  • great dance team
  • fine band
  • free CNE admission (at the next game, anyway)
  • the best fans

Oh and


Why don’t we hear more about the game-day experience, the NON-football parts? I wish more media would write about the actual fan experience. What’s it like going to the game? What did you do, what did you see, what was the music like, what was fun or hilarious or strange or amazing in victory or soul-crushing in defeat?

There are certainly lots of reports of the Xs and Os of the game, of which team ran what play and why, about specific minutiae on the field. That’s great, keep those coming – but non-football-experts would read that and think, “I’ll never understand this, why should I go?”

PinballI think it would help to see reports from the casual fan perspective too. Hey, Pinball gave a great pep talk before the game. Pluses and minuses of the halftime show. How did that guy get the trivia contest right? It was cool watching them frantically set up the TD cannon.

Who are all these dancers? What is the deal with the marching band? They’re all 14 year olds from Burlington? Cool. What’s it like sitting with the craziest of crazies in the end zone? Can you actually get a $5 beer?

Report on the whole game day event, not just the game play.

The kid who held up the sign that he was beating cancer, so the Argos should beat the Bombers, and got a standing ovation. The air force pilot honoured during a break. Former cheerleaders back for a reunion. I want to read about all this too, not just pass completion stats.

While we’re at it, if we want more people to come to the games, then instead of just saying “Only in the CFL” when something like this happens – how about explaining what the heck is going on to potential new fans and why it makes the CFL game special?

If you can’t tell, I love the CFL and the Toronto Argos, I want the league to thrive so some day I can bring my grandkids to the game. It’s a great game day experience, a great outing win or lose, even for non experts. But I’m worried when I see so many empty seats, league-wide.

Here’s our view of the game winning last minute touchdown. I wish more people could experience how much fun the whole environment is, before, during and after the game, from the fan’s perspective. But you’ll never know that, reading about the game afterwards.

My point, and somewhere in here I do have one, is that just selling people on the merits of the football itself isn’t going to do it. There aren’t enough football experts to fill any CFL building. Gotta sell the whole game day experience and atmosphere to get folks to leave home. I know everybody at MLSE is trying hard to do this. I’d love to see reporting on the game day atmosphere once in a while too.

Fond memories of Joe Badali’s Restaurant

Joe Badali’s restaurant – sadly, now closed – was a great friend of Argonotes. It was the closest thing to a sponsor we ever had.

Badali's web site screenshot. Now closed.

Nick and I went to the Jays home opener yesterday, which I think was the first time I’d been back to Skydome since the Argo era there ended. This triggered lots of fond Argonotes memories of course. Especially the old tradition of emptying the spit valves on the statue of Ted Rogers.

The Final Emptying of the Spit Valves

But I was sad after the game as we walked back to Union Station to see that Joe Badali’s Restaurant (at Front and Simcoe) has closed, and the building it’s in is being gutted, and the adjacent parking lot is now fenced off. Yet another office tower is going up.

Badali’s holds a special spot in Argonotes history. Before our very first game in 1995, we barged in there to play “Argos Rule the CFL” – to a reaction of befuddlement and confusion. But it got better.

For over 20 years, it was where we started and ended every performance. “Meet at Front and Simcoe 90 minutes before kickoff” was the usual rule. We’d gather in the adjacent parking lot for a warmup – where we’d make sure nobody had tuned their instruments, ever – and play for the crowd there, and then head over to Skydome, crashing other restaurants along the way. And we’d always wind up at Badali’s after the game too, for drinks and conversation.

Warming up in the Badali's parking lot

For a few years, it was the official post game Argo bash spot, and everybody would gather there – players, dance team, fans, band – and former manager Mike O’Connor always made sure there was a reserved table for the band. And free beer and appetizers too. I couldn’t believe it. What had we ever done to deserve this grand treatment? A packed restaurant full of people celebrating an Argo victory – and there’s a reserved table for 30 people for the band? This is great, but why? IMG 0327

(Well, I always thought it was part of an unspoken arrangement: we’ll buy you a beer so long as you don’t ever barge in here and play “Argos Rule the CFL” ever again. go crash the Lone Star and Boston Pizza and East Side Mario’s all you want though.)

Doug Flutie came and sat at the band table once. Doug Flutie! The greatest quarterback in CFL history! And he came and sat at OUR table! I can’t imagine that happening in the NFL. Players mingling with ordinary people. (Naturally we asked him if his Flutie Brothers Band needed another 40 members, and he pointed out “I already have horns in the band.” Well OK then.)

Even after it was no longer the official spot – for one awkward year, the official post game restaurant was Frank D’Angelo’s “Forget About It” Supper Club – fans and players continued to celebrate or commiserate after the games at Badali’s.

Badali’s was also the gathering spot for several CFL Pep Band Summits – wonderful Grey Cup get-togethers with Argonotes and our great friends, the Saskatchewan Roughrider Pep band.
This is the 2012 Summit, possibly history’s largest gathering of CFL Musicians. And there’s Bob Mossing, Member of the Order of Canada, Founder of the Roughrider Pep Band –

CFL Band Summit 2012

(Note, former BC Lions band leader Dal Richards is also a member of the Order of Canada. I presume they eventually give this to all CFL band leaders. I will keep an eye on my email.)

Hanging out with the Rider band provided some of my greatest Argonotes memories – and we kicked off the 2007 “Not The Grey Cup Parade” from the Badali’s parking lot!

I celebrated both my 40th and 50th birthday parties at Badali’s, surrounded by all my band friends and family. I was looking forward to celebrating the next big birthday there too … But the Argos moved to BMO Field, the band got ignored to death, and I hadn’t been back to Front and Simcoe until yesterday.

Thank you to Mike, who’s moved on, and all the wonderful staff at Badali’s over the years who treated us so well. We miss you.

a Twitter CFL experiment

So this is kind of interesting, isn’t it?

Wow, isn’t that wild. A twitter account called @CFLPredictor that posted exactly one tweet, on June 13, before the season started, correctly calling the outcome of the 106th Grey Cup, played in November! What are the chances of that?

Well … I gotta come clean; as it happens, I have a pretty good idea what the chances of that are, because I …

  • created the CFLPredictor account on June 10, as a private account not visible to anybody.
  • wrote a script (using a nifty command line twitter tool) that posted hundreds of variations of the above tweet – essentially, every possible combination of Team A over Team B
    • in a close one
    • in overtime
    • by a touchdown
    • by more than a touchdown
    • in a blowout

    Essentially it did this ..

    for t1 in BC Edmonton Calgary Saskatchewan Winnipeg Toronto Hamilton Ottawa Montreal; do
        for t2 in BC Edmonton Calgary Saskatchewan Winnipeg Toronto Hamilton Ottawa Montreal; do
            if [[ $t1 != $t2 ]]; then
                    tweet "My Grey Cup 2018 Prediction: $t1 over $t2 in overtime."
                    tweet "My Grey Cup 2018 Prediction: $t1 over $t2 in a close one."
                    tweet "My Grey Cup 2018 Prediction: $t1 over $t2 by a touchdown"
                    tweet "My Grey Cup 2018 Prediction: $t1 over $t2 by more than a touchdown."
                    tweet "My Grey Cup 2018 Prediction: $t1 over $t2 in a blowout."

    To be safe, my script had to include various extremely unlikely options like “Toronto over Hamilton”, because with the CFL’s crossover playoff format, any team can potentially beat any other team.

    (It didn’t post “Toronto over Toronto”. I have my integrity here.)

  • admired the 9 * 8 * 5 = 360 different tweets, none of which were visible to anybody other than me.
  • waited until November 25, Grey Cup day
  • PANICKED because in looking over my script, it had encountered an error months earlier and had neglected to tweet two possible Ottawa-over-Calgary outcomes.
  • on November 25th, watched the game carefully, hoping desperately for anything BUT “Ottawa over Calgary in overtime” and “Ottawa over Calgary in a blowout”.
  • watched with relief as when Calgary beat Ottawa 27-16
  • deleted all but one of the tweets
  • made the account public so anybody could see it
  • retweeted the now-visible one remaining tweet

  • sat back and waited for the flood of people to comment WOW, that CFLPredictor account must be either a football genius or some sort of amazing artificial intelligence to have correctly called the outcome of the Grey Cup months before it happened.

I’m not sure what my plan was going to be if anybody else actually picked up on this but naturally I was hoping it’d get mentioned in the media somewhere.

To my slight disappointment but ultimate relief, everybody on the Internet must be smarter than me because nobody fell for this fake news ruse.

So anyway, next time you see an amazing Internet prediction, consider the possible source.

No Offence Intended – A 1986 History of Waterloo Warrior Football

In 1986 UW Courier Alumni Magazine editor Chris Redmond, knowing of my irrational support of the apparent lost cause of Waterloo football, asked me to write an article on the history of the team.

UW Courier Cover December 1986

Courier - Page 19 - title page of article

I had just graduated from Waterloo with my M.Math. and had been a staunch supporter of the football Warriors ever since I started in 1977.
(Maybe you heard, I ran the Waterloo Warriors Band for a few years too.)

The team had gone through an amazing period of futility at the time.
Things are much better now though.
Legendary coach Dave “Tuffy” Knight arrived in 1988, and by 1997 the Warriors had actually won the Yates Cup, emblematic of Ontario football supremacy.
Waterloo even won a playoff game over Western, the last game ever played at Western’s historic J. W. Little Stadium. Western then tore down the stadium in shame.

And although the team reverted to its traditional struggling form in the 2000s – and, sadly, UW suspended the football program for an entire year in 2010 after an embarrassing steroid scandal – the current Warriors under coach Chris Bertoia are returning to respectability.
They are 2-0 as I write this, won 4 games last year, and seems to have shaken off years of futility.
Let’s hope that trend continues.

I really enjoyed researching this article, talking to past coaches, hearing some of their stories,
and learning that there was a long-lost trophy, the Bar-O-O, made from a barrel painted in each school’s colours, that went to the winner of the Waterloo/Laurier game.

Cleaning up the garage on the weekend, I found a box with a copy of the magazine.
Rereading it brought back lots of memories – especially of wonderful coaches like Carl Totzke, Wally Delahey and Bob McKillop, who all befriended me as a nervous undergraduate attempting to figure out how to run a band, and who loved telling stories of founding and growth of Waterloo football.
Carl and Wally both passed away recently, but I met Bob at the UW hall of fame banquet last year and was able to tell him how much his friendship meant to me.

I hope you might enjoy rereading this article too.
I’m indebted to former UW Alumni magazine editor Chris Redmond for encouraging this piece.
In hindsight, my prediction at the end was just a bit off – but I think I could see that things were going to get better.

Anyway, here it is.
I hope that by putting this online,
some of these stories of Waterloo Warrior football might live a little longer.

No offence intended

Waterloo, UW Alumni Magazine, December 1986

Observations, historical research and ill-disguised passion by Steve Hayman, until recently Chief Centurion of the Warriors Band and still one of the greatest of a brave breed: fans of Warrior football.

It’s a story 30 seasons long, starting with “Carleton College Ravens 24, Waterloo College Mules 20” on October 5, 1957; punctuated by “Waterloo 1, RMC 0”, “Waterloo 60, Laurentian 0”, “Waterloo 19, Lutheran 7”, and, more typically, “Western 72, Waterloo “.

It’s a story of dedicated fans, cheerleaders in togas, making the playoffs, a wine-barrel trophy, one of the bands in Canada, and school fight songs with timeless lyrics including “Keep on playing, you Warriors,”, “Come on, get wise, you guys,” and “Laurier, Laurier, pffft to Laurier.”

It’s a story with 66 wins, 165 losses and 5 ties, and five guys who made it to the pros.

And it’s a story of a group of players and coaches who, although usually unsuccessful in the win column, achieved other more important goals, such as getting an education and having fun. Just ask anyone who’s ever coached the team.
(It’s easy. They all still work here.)

The current coach-for-life, Bob McKillop, is the perfect guy to head Warrior football.
The prototypical big-man-on-campus in the late 60’s, he quarterbacked the Warriors to three straight winning seasons.

McKillop played baseball for the White Sox, coached the Warrior hockey team to a national championship in 1974, played on an intramural basketball team that beat the varsity Warriors one year. (“I’ll never forget that”, he says, although he wonders if maybe it was the junior varsity team.) He was even MC for the FASS show, and is one of the few people who understand the Warriors Band.

“I’ve actually had some fun this year,” he said, in the midst of 1986’s record losing streak.
“The kids work hard and we have an exceptional coaching staff.
There’s a tremendous amount of improvement going on. I’m really really pleased. I hope we can keep this group together.”

The early years

UW has had a football team of sorts since its inception in 1957, when Waterloo College started up the “Associate Faculties” as a dodge for getting more government money.
At that time, a young Carl Totzke, Waterloo College Class of ’49, was reporting on sports for the K-W Record and coaching the WC Mules part-time.

“We had to scramble for games,” Totzke, now UW athletic director, recalled.
“We played Huron College, Ryerson, U of T intramural teams, whoever we could get.”

The Associate Faculties, which eventually became UW, built Seagram Stadium in 1957 on land donated by the city, and with the help of $250,000 from Seagrams.
“That was the first building of the new Associate Faculties, and it demonstrated that it was for real,” Totzke recalls.
“Then the government kicked in, and of course, later we gave the stadium away.”
To the city.
For a dollar.

In 1958, Totzke became the full time WC athletic director, with a staff of none, and led the Mules — a team shared by Waterloo College and the Associate Faculties/UW — to their second straight 0-7 season in the Ontario Intercollegiate Football Conference; they managed to beat Carleton 30-6 in 1959 to finish the 1950’s with a 1-20 record.

The UW Warrior football team made its debut under that name in the OIFC in 1960; all-time Warrior great Dick Aldredge captained the team, which lost to Guelph in their first game but beat Carleton and RMC later to finish at 2-5.

Aldredge was a two-way player, playing offensively and defensively for up to 58 minutes per game; in 1961 he led Waterloo to a historic 12-6 win over Carleton for the school’s first Homecoming win during the “Wa Wa Wee” — the Waterloo Warrior Weekend.
He’s still the team’s all-time leading rusher and second-leading scorer with 991 points, behind late-70’s kicker Mike Karpow.

Also in 1961, “Hail to Waterloo,” by science student Kenneth Magee, won a contest held for a new school song.
To the tune of Scotland the Brave, it went like this

Hail, Hail to Waterloo
Our Warriors fight for you
On High your colours hold
Black, White and Gold
We’ll show them one and all
That they can’t win them all.
Proudly we give the call
Hail Waterloo!

Catchy, but it didn’t enjoy universal support.
One cheerleader felt compelled to write an alternate:

Come on get wise, you guys,
We are from Waterloo.
We’ve got a winning team,
We’ll walk right over you.
The Engineers are here,
The Arts and Science too,
So give a great big cheer,
For the U. Of W.

1961 ended with a third place 3-4 record and the first appearance in print of the Warrior slogan “Wait ’till next year.”
The following year, a record crowd of 1,884 saw the Waterloo Lutheran Golden Hawks edge Waterloo 7-6 in the first o 25 games between the cross-town rivals.
The Warriors have one 4 out of the 9 games they’ve played against “Lutheran”, but have lost all 16 games against “Laurier.”
(Anyone for changing the name back?)

Another team that always gave the Warriors trouble were the Redmen of Royal Military College (not to be confused with the Redmen of McGill or Guelph, or for that matter the Warriors of Loyola.)
“Numbers-wise there was not that much disparity between the two schools,” Totzke said.
“They’d win on conditioning.
They’d get into a cohesive unit better than other schools.”
RMC won 6 of its 10 games against Waterloo, and, its objectives achieved, withdrew from competition in the early 1970’s.

A brief break for some Warrior trivia

Games: 236

Most Games Against

McMaster 40, Guelph 36, WLU 25, Western 23

Most Common UW Score

0 (34 times)

Average Score

Opposition 22, Warriors 11

Biggest wins

Waterloo 60, Laurentian 0 (1967, Home)
Waterloo 52, Montreal 0 (1967, Home)
Waterloo 37, St. F. X 0 (1970 away, ex.)
Waterloo 40, McMaster 6 (1979, away)
Waterloo 34, Guelph 0 (1967, away)
Waterloo 34,McMaster 0 (1977, home)
Waterloo 35, Montreal 1 (1966, home)

Biggest Losses

McMaster 77, Waterloo College Mules 0 (1957, home)
Western 72, Waterloo 0 (1984, away)
McMaster 69, Waterloo College 0 (1957, away)
McMaster 60, Waterloo 0 (1985, away)
Laurier 59, Waterloo 0 (1985 home, ex)

Biggest Loss In Which At Least We Scored

McMaster 60, Waterloo 6 (1984, home)

Biggest Loss To A School That Doesn’t Play College Football Any More

RMC 52, Waterloo College 0 (1957, home)

Biggest Loss Outside Canada

Wilmington College (Ohio) 46, Waterloo 6 (1986)

Schools We’ve Never Played

Mount Allison, Acadia, UBC, Calgary, Manitoba

Strange Scores

Waterloo 0, Guelph 0 (1962)
Waterloo 1, RMC 0 (1966)
McMaster 1, Waterloo 0 (1970)
Western 3, Waterloo 2 (1970)
Waterloo 4, Carleton 2 (1975)

Back to the live action

1963 saw Waterloo’s first win over Waterlootheran, 13-12.
The game featured strong performances by Aldredge, who blocked a sure-thing WLU field goal in the final minutes, and equally strong play by the six Warrior cheerleaders selected earlier in the year on the basis of “hair, posture, clothes, figure and a rather dubious category called etc“, according to the Coryphaeus.
Six judges, Totzke included, had labored for hours over a list of candidates and were apparently considering resorting to a tape measure in order to make a final decision, until the cooler heads of the two female judges prevailed.
The same issue reported that “the six short-skirted cheerleaders were much appreciated but had a hard time out-yelling the well-oiled fans.”

The Homecoming rematch in 1964 was played before a record Seagram Stadium crowd of 5,000. The Coryphaeus fueled the rivalry with a front page article outlining “45 Reasons why WLU will lose”, which included
* According to the 83rd thesis by Luther, Thou shalt not play feetsball, ye followers of mine
* Our field has been seeded with grass grown in the Vatican gardens;
* This year, we choose the referees;
* The University police have promised to let anyone park anywhere on campus if the Warriors win.

Unfortunately, as anyone who has had a car towed in the past 20 years can tell you, Lutheran won 19-18.

A new era began on September 24, 1965, midway through the third quarter of a game against Guelph.
Dick Aldredge had moved on to the Canadian Football League, and rookie Bob McKillop replaced Doug Billing at quarterback and tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kim McCuaig.
The Warriors beat the Guelph Redmen – later the Gryphons – 12-1.
The ’65 Warriors were felt by many to be the school’s best team yet, beat Loyola 32-19 in a game highlighted by a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Pat McMenamin, and finished the season with 4 wins, 3 losses.

Totzke remembers having “a really interesting group of players” in the mid-1960’s. “McMaster had a one-year graduate physical education program, and they were getting a great influx of ready-made athletes.
So we got on the bandwagon and created a one-year PE course.
That got the traditional phys ed schools ticked, off, and it gradually became unacceptable, but it brought us the “one-year wonders” — Bob Howes, who came from Queen’s and went on to play with the Eskimos, Mike Law, Dave Knechtel who came from WLU and went on to Winnipeg …

“In retrospect, the one-year program wasn’t a good idea; it prevented us from growing and developing our own players.
It meant that 20 of your own students couldn’t play.” But it was successful.
The Warriors peaked during this period, with three straight winning seasons from 1965 to 1968 and some of the most memorable games in Warrior history.

The unusual score of Waterloo 1, RMC 0 occurred in 1966 in an error-filled exhibition matchup.
“I remember that game; we hadn’t practiced before it,” McKillop reminisced, leafing through old copies of the Coryphaeus.
“One of the outstanding punters in Canadian College football,” he said, reading about himself.
“Geez, who wrote that?
We sure had him fooled.”

Totzke recalls long hours spent by his wife and himself making sandwiches in preparation for road trips to Montreal.
“The guys would complain that they weren’t going to eat them, at least until we put the sandwiches out.
It was the cool thing to complain.”
One of those Montreal trips saw the Warrior defence stop Loyola’s running game dead in its tracks by halftime.
“We were creaming them 20-0 at halftime.
They couldn’t run the ball at all.
So in the second half, they found they could pass and came back to win 22-20,” he remembers.
“We stoned ’em so bad on defence in the first half, they found our weakness.”

During that same 1966 season, math student Dave Greenberg started up The Warriors Band in order to get into the games for free.
“One time we were playing and it started to rain,” he recalls.
“We decided to stay around and play some cheers.
That turned the crowd around, and the team noticed.
The Lettermen offered to get us some uniforms.
We started saying hey, there’s money there, what can we spend it on?
So we bought the big bass drum.”
From that point on, the Carling Red Cap Hymn became a fixture at UW games.

The Bar-O-O

Running back Brian Irvine and some friends in the phys ed class of 1967 decided to do something about UW spirit.
Team co-captain Peter Hopkins, now UW campus recreation director, had transferred to UW from Carleton and was familiar with the rivalry at the annual Carleton-Ottawa “Panda Bowl” game.

Hopkins and Irvine were brainstorming ideas about stirring up the UW-WLU rivalry, when Irvine located an old wine barrel in his dad’s basement.
The group painted it in UW and WLU colours, christening it the Bar-O-O trophy, emblematic of football supremacy in Waterloo, and for many years, it was presented to the winner of the UW-WLU game.

Unfortunately the Bar-O-O seems to have disappeared, although everybody has a pretty good idea of which school must have it.

Irvine led the team to a stunning 30-26 victory over Western in 1967.
Totzke’s last home game as a coach and McKillop’s as a player was a memorable 12-8 victory over number-6-ranked Lutheran that year.
“How Sweet It Is!” was Totzke’s reaction after the players presented him with the game ball.

Assistant coach Wally Delahey, now the assistant athletic director, was handed the reins in 1968 after Totzke’s alleged retirement.
The team joined Toronto, Queen’s, McGill and Western in the big league that year; people were buzzing about the College Bowl, and expanding Seagram Stadium.
Six thousand fans and the new Warrior mascot saw a pre-season loss to Alberta and defeat of WLU, complete with UW’s own banner-towing plane.

How was that season, Wally?
“It was a rude awakening,” he says, recalling one win, one tie and four losses.
The 19-19 tie against Toronto and 30-6 win over Western t least proved that UW belonged in the new league, although the new toga-style cheerleader uniforms were a bit of a disappointment.
The season marked a turning point for Warrior fans — they became more aggressive and more colourful, and the Warrior Band’s halftime show in Kingston held up the Queen’s Band’s show for 20 minutes.

Everyone connected with Warrior football recalls 5’9″ running back Gord McLellan’s stellar performance in a 20-15 victory at McGill in 1970, the main highlight of a 1-5 season.
Waterloo’s three touchdowns were all scored by McLellan on kick returns.
“The last was a 105-yard run in the last minute of the game,” Delahey remembers.
“After that, McGill coach Tom Mooney just disintegrated.
He disappeared off the face of the earth.”

A personal highlight for Delahey was a Nova Scotia trip the team took prior to the 1970 season, and the resulting quest for the Green Acres Motel in Antigonish.

“We always made the guys get dressed up for a trip.
I was really proud of those guys; they were dressed to the nines.
But when we got to Antigonish, which has a main drag about as long as this hall, we couldn’t find the motel.
I asked this old codger where it was.
He smirked and said there was no Green Acres Motel, but there was a Green Acres Campground, and that St. F. X. owned it, so away we go down this road.
After six miles, it’s not a road any more, it’s just a path, but we see this Green Acres sign, and a whole bunch of really rustic cabins.
“This can’t be it”, we said, but the guys piled out of the bus in the middle of the wilderness, still all dressed up, beside this football field that looked like a cow pasture.
“OK coach, the joke’s over,” one of them said.
I took the bus back into town and phoned Carl and he said “yeah that’s it”, so back I go and I have to tell all the guys.
We got some fires going in the cabins, they were right on the Bay of Fundy and it turned out to be a great experience.”

An unfortunate bout of player unrest and defections — McLellan, disenchanted with something, jumped to Queen’s — hurt the team in 1971.
Fans threw beer bottles at the cheerleaders that year.
Somehow, the team pulled through and won three in a row for the first time ever, against Windsor, Guelph and McMaster.
The season ended with, sadly, the team’s last ever victory over WLU, 1907, and the Warriors finished a healthy 4-4, after a strong performance by rookie quarterback Chuck Wakefield.

The team finished 3-3 in 1972 but had yet to make the playoffs when the first big slump hit.
UW won no more than two games a season from 1973 to 1977, and it’s hard to tell what was really going on because the Chevron was, you know, the Chevron, and there wasn’t a lot of sports coverage.

Renison College cook Louis Zimmerhansl fed the team pre-game meals for years.
“He was even our honorary coach once”, Delahey says. “We’d sometimes get a faculty member or Dr. Burt Matthews or someone to do that.
They’d come to the meal, come into the dressing rooms.
It was a good PR move.
We never got turned down.”

Delahey also used to run a goofy Play of the Week on occasion. “It’d be a fun play, like a triple reverse. I don’t think it ever worked.”

The Game

Then came 1978, The Year of the Playoff Game We Shoulda Won, the only playoff game in UW’s history.

Delahey had proposed a new league structure for the 1978 season that saw the OUAA West Division split into two groups, the four traditionally strong schools (Toronto, Western, Windsor and WLU) and the weak sisters: Waterloo, Guelph, York and McMaster. You played one cross-over game — WLU beat us 39-10 in that one — and twice against each school in your group.
Waterloo managed a 4-3 record in the regular season, including a spectacular 130-yard league record punt return for a touchdown by Steve Valeriote against York, good enough for third place in the combined standing, and prepared for the Big Semi-Final Game against WLU.

It was a perfect day for football, and we all remember it like it was yesterday (don’t we?).
WLU was, of course, heavily favoured, and took the predicted 23-3 lead at halftime.
The Warriors came out breathing fire in the second half.
Quarterback Greg Sommerville threw touchdown passes to Dan Hagen and Mike Grace;
Mike Karpow added a field goal.
Suddenly it was 23-20.
The Hawks were reeling, and the Warriors were set for the final killer blow.
Waterloo was pressing for the go-ahead touchdown from the three yard line.
Sommerville handed off to running back Bill Guthrie, who will probably never forget fumbling the ball.
Later, Karpow added another field goal to tie the game, but UW was unable to go ahead, as WLU intercepted another Sommerville pass in the end zone (sigh) and WLU full back Jim Reid scored the winning touchdown with less than two minutes left.

A big disappointment.
But also a super effort.
“We should have beaten WLU”, says Delahey.
“We played so bloody well.
The low point was looking at those guys after the game.”
Unfortunately the split-division schedule was dropped after the 1978 season and UW football returned to a successions of two-wins-or-less seasons.

Mind you, they did tie the Toronto Blues 20-20 in 1980 when the Blues were ranked number 1 in the country, and the 25-24 win over Toronto in 1984 was “fantastic! The punting was the key to the victory,” says Jim MacMillan, the, uh, punter in 1984.


So here we are in 1986 and — I hate to say it — the Warriors have lost 19 games in a row.
It’s trendy, but unfair, to knock the program without really knowing what’s going on.
Coach McKillop took over from Coach Delahey for the 1982 season, after a long and successful tenure as UW hockey coach.

“I can adamantly say — this keeps me going — no matter who you talk to, there are no negative vibes from the kids,” he says. “Have they enjoyed it?
It’s the thing that keeps me young.”

Only this year has UW begun to recruit football players.
And it’s paying off. The team is becoming more competitive, although the actual won-lost record won’t show it just yet.
“If we have another recruiting year like last year, we’ll be 25 per cent better again.
You’re only as good as the horse you’ve got in the barn,” McKillop comments.

But it’s not easy, and McKillop and assistant coach in charge of recruiting Ron Dias are not having an easy time of it.
“My biggest concern is that people in local high schools are not supporting our program.
They’re actively discouraging people from playing here.
We find exactly the opposite outside Waterloo County,” the coach says. Unbelievable.

“We’ve done everything”, he continues. “We ran a football clinic here.
People came and said it was the best they’d ever been at.
But the least attendance was from Waterloo Region.”

On recruiting, Totzke notes that “if you want success, you have to do it.
There are difficulties with the perception of the university, that it’s a high tech school, very demanding, that nobody has any fun.
These perceptions are difficult to overcome.”

Looking back over the years, you might not think that football at UW has been a success.
But it has.
“You know the best thing I can say?
If I had to do it again, I would”, says former centre Pete Callaghan, who played from 1981 to 1985, a period when the team won only 5 games.

Or ask Frank Kosec, the most recent Warrior to make the CFL, who retired this year after a career with Calgary and Montreal (and an environmental studies degree.)
“Football was never my number 1 objective.
Get your education first, and combine it with football.
That’s where UW is great — it doesn’t push football.
The guys come out of here with a degree.”

Kosec could have played anywhere after being named Toronto’s top high school defensive player.
“I could have gone to Western or WLU but I figure I’ll take the education first”, he says.
“It was a lot of fun.”

Kosec keeps in touch with McKillop as much as he can.
How’s he like this year’s team?
“At least they’re trying.
They have an opportunity to play.
It’s tough when you lose, but the scoreboard isn’t everything.
I’d rather be on a losing team and play, than be on a winning team and on the bench.”

Of course, more money would help UW’s program immensely, as it’s sadly underfunded.
But the coaching staff has the right attitude.
“We’ve had less serious injuries [in 1986] than we’ve ever had”, says athletic therapist Brian Farrance.

We have some good players.
We have a mascot and a band.
We have some dedicated fans.
It’s just a matter of time.

In fact, I’m going to make a prediction.
The Warriors will win the 1992 CIAU championship.

The 1961 school song says it best:

Keep on Playing, You Warriors
… To Victory!

Even More Argonauts-As-Emoji Charades

In Part 1, we got carried away rendering the names of current and former members of the Toronto Argonauts as emoji (to recap, it all started with “🐻🌲”, for “Bear Woods.”)

Here in the Department of We Just Can’t Let Things Go, are a few more.
My thanks to @TheScullerwag for some brilliant contributions to this list.

Some ground rules:

  1. You must be referring to a current or former player, coach, executive, or anybody else associated with the Toronto Argonauts

  2. The name must be rendered primarily using Emoji, but we will also allow other unusual characters from the Unicode standard

  3. We will allow broad interpretations of the meaning of certain Emoji in order to make these “jokes” work.
    In particular, we will allow a country’s flag to stand for various things – the two or three letter ISO country code or a term for a person from that country.
    Furthermore, knowing your mathematical symbols and periodic table may be required.

  4. If you don’t think all of these are side-splittingly hilarious, feel free to start your own list.

I thought I had peaked with with McLeod Bethel-Thompson but then @thescullerwag exceeded that with a brilliant rendering of Mookie Mitchell and scaled new heights – and plunged far back in history – with Nobby Wirkowski.

Without further ado,

More Argos As Emoji

The Sequence

You Should Read It As Who The Heck Are We Talking About

🖥️ ☁️ 🛀 🚟 🦃 👨‍👦

MAC CLOUD BATH EL(evated railway) TOM(turkey) SON
Current Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, of course


Derrell “Mookie” Mitchell.


obviously, Robert Drummond

🇵🇱 🙏🏜☕

Paul Masotti. @thescullerwag wasn’t sure this one would work. I think it’s brilliant.


Argo quarterback and 1952 Grey Cup Champion, Nobby Wirkowski

👞 🚮 ✍️

Tobin Rote. Reaching deep into the Argo quarterback alumni ranks here.

👵 👨 👽

Damon Allen. We are starting to wonder if it’s possible to do this for all former Argo quarterbacks.

☕️ 🍗 🍗 👨

Joe Theismann, and yes, it sure looks like you can do this for all former Argo quarterbacks


Kerwin Bell, speaking of which.

🐜 🍯 🐮 ✌️👌

Anthony Calvillo. Hey we can do this with quarterback coaches too.

💎 🏗️ 🚃

All time argo Jim Stillwagon. Wagon. That’s what they call railroad cars in Europe, OK?


Orlondo Steinauer. Good one by Kelly. Mike had a slightly different alternative – 🚣‍♂️🏜️🏦🍺⏳ . Both highly worthy.


Did you know former Argo GM Adam Rita actually appeared in the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii?

⚛₅₄ ∧ 🇷🇺 🎣

Zenon Andrusyshyn. I struggled mightily with this one. Not only do I wish there was better Unicode support for specific items on the periodic table, I really wish I could get the F out of there.

😌 🚗💦👀

Jan Carinci. @thescullerwag with another gem.

The rare one-emoji identifier. It’s not glossy. It’s Matte. Matte Black. Matt Black. Work with me here.

😟 💎 🐮

Cedric Minter. @thescullerwag pushing the limits once again.

🥧💨 🥛🐎

Pierre Vercheval, and nothing in the rules says you can’t switch languages part way through the interpretation.

🏖 🌰 👋 🇹🇦

Sandy Annunziata. “TA” is of course Tristan Da Cunha, an isolated group of islands in the South Atlantic that, conveniently for us, has its own Unicode flag.


Spergon Wynn. Definitely searching the depths of former Argo quarterbacks here.

🥫 ✋⚾ 🥫

Kent Austin. Might as well get all the former quarterbacks.

💎 🐄👸

Jim Corrigall. From @thescullerwag who can’t let this go either.

🇹🇩 🈶🈶

Chad Owens. Flag of Chad plus Japanese emoji character meaning ‘to own’, as in “for purchase” x2..

💪 👨 🍵 😶 📚

Armanti Edwards. Please, make it stop..

Toronto Argonauts in Emoji

I feel the need to save these gems that were getting tossed around on Twitter and Facebook yesterday.
Can you identify these current and former members of the Toronto Argonauts?
(Hints, answers, and explanation/apologies below, much thanks to Jenn and Mike and @thescullerwag and Kelly and other contributors.)

  1. 🐻🌲

  2. 🎙📍🏈©🍋🍋

  3. 🚀🐍📬

  4. 🍆💩O

  5. 🐶 😷 👔

  6. ♌ 🏝🏔

  7. ✅ 🌲 🌳 👨

  8. 🕺🌊💧

  9. 🎄🙏⛲

  10. 🚛 👛 🌊

  11. ☑️🤬🏈

  12. 🌭🛎️🕒

  13. 🎤🅾️⛱️

  14. ✅🇺🇸🏈

  15. 🌅🛬🍸

  16. 🚽🍬

  17. ©️♌🍋

  18. 🚗💨🛎

  19. 👖🎄

  20. <👔

  21. 🌅🌿🌿🚜🌱🌱🌱🌱


  1. Current banged-up linebacker.

  2. All time Argo legend

  3. Former Heismann Trophy winner

  4. Former player 1954-1965 and GM 1976-79, one of only four Argos to have their jersey retired, and you can blame kelly for this one

  5. Another all time great. And the person in the middle has the FLU, ok?

  6. Former coach. The first icon is an astrological sign. Maybe this would have been better: 🦁

  7. Current coach.

  8. Ex-kicker

  9. Another ex-kicker

  10. You might need to look up the technical definition of Unicode character U+1F69B, “ARTICULATED LORRY”, but everybody loves this president of the Friends of the Argonauts fan club.

  11. See #14.

  12. Defensive line….

  13. Aha, I get it now, the third one provides something.

  14. Come on, this one’s easy.

  15. Argos Announcer

  16. Much loved former Argo owner

  17. Former quarterback

  18. Another former quarterback

  19. Jeans. What kind of jeans are they?

  20. All Time Argo and five time Grey Cup Champion

  21. Another All Time Argo

Answers, and blame

  1. Bear Woods

  2. Mike Pin Ball C Lemons

  3. Rocket Ismail (h/t @thescullerwag)

  4. Dick Shatto (blame Kelly for this one)

  5. DOG FLU TIE, and I really wish there was a “Flute” emoji

  6. Leo Cahill (h/t @jennannis)

  7. Mark Trestman

  8. Swayze Waters (blame Kelly for this one too)

  9. Noel Prefontaine (h/t @thescullerwag for another work of genius)

  10. Lori Bursey. They’re waves. So it’s LORRY PURSE SEA. OK we are really stretching here.

  11. Marcus Ball. Thx Mike.

  12. Frank Beltre

  13. Mike O’Shea. Shade. It’s an umbrella.

  14. Marcus Ball. thx kelly.

  15. Don Landry. DAWN(sunrise) LAND(airplane) DRY (martini). Hey, work with me.

  16. John Candy. (Blame Mike Hogan for this one.)

  17. C leo Lemon

  18. Kerwin Bell. CAR WIND BELL. This is too easy.

  19. Llevi Noel. Another extremely rare two-emoji-only name.

  20. Les Ascott. We ask you to be very lenient in how you interpret some of these symbols.

  21. Don Moen. DAWN and then the tractor is MOWING the grass and I really have to let this go

Stop. Just stop. Please

I’m working on one last one, stop me if you think I’m getting carried away, who is this former player?

(🎥🥊👰)⭕️ 🔔👁 the 💋 (🎺🎷🥁)🇮🇹

(Movie Boxer Wife) – who would that be?

(Trumpet Saxophone Drum) – what do you call that group of people?

(What is the ISO two character country code for the flag shown?)

The answer is of course

Instead of the “Kiss Cam”, how about helping people learn about football?

I shared my thoughts the other day on why it’s time to retire the Kiss Cam, an outdated and inappropriate game day video board presentation.

Teams are always looking for time fillers, so what could you do instead? Here’s an idea.

What if you showed some videos that (humourously) attempted to explain the game?

You need to welcome people who’ve never seen Canadian football before, or who are casual fans that don’t appreciate the nuances of the game. Let’s help them out!
Frankly I’ve been to almost every Argos home game in the past 22 years and there are still a lot of things I don’t understand.
Let’s help me out too!

How about showing some fun vignettes that explain …

  • The basic idea. We’re going that way, they’re going this way, we’re trying to stop them, we get 3 chances to go 10 yards…
  • Why are they called “downs”?

  • What “offside” is
  • What “illegal procedure” is. Is that different than “offside?” Show me what it looks like.
  • How come some players are “ineligible receivers”?

  • Why are there so many referees on the field? What do they all do?

  • The people holding up the sticks at the side of the field. What are they doing? Who are they? What attracted them to this unusual job?

  • What is a “rouge”? Why is it called that?
  • Safeties. Why are they called “safeties”? Why is it a good idea?

  • What is the deal with “onside kicks”? They hardly ever work. Why is that?

  • Sometimes the ref says there’s been an illegal formation. What’s that all about?

  • Tiger-Cats is redundant, isn’t it? Why does our big rival have such a stupid name?

  • Explain pass interference. (OK this is a huge can of worms.)

  • Why do we have slightly different rules than the NFL?

  • The Obscure CFL Rule of the Week: Did you know that Article 7 of the rule book, “Ball Fumbled Out Of Goal Area” says that a team can actually decline a score? Has that ever happened?

  • Teach me some of the referee hand signals. What’s going on here? Are they doing the YMCA or does this mean something? (Note, these are all actual signals from the CFL rule book.)
    CFL referee hand signals
  • Stump The Experts: A kicked ball strikes an official on the head and then clanks into the upright. Is it a dead ball? Stay tuned for the answer!

  • Here’s the thing. Sophisticated fans know all this stuff and will roll their eyes. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, there aren’t enough sophisticated fans to fill the stadium. We need people who are unfamiliar with football to come, and enjoy, and learn, and become rabid fans. Let’s help them out.

    I bet you could make this fun and engaging and it would be something people would enjoy.

    Unlike the Kiss Cam.