Champions set to be removed from Grey Cup, replaced by Bombers or Ticats

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The Grey Cup runneth over.

It’s full.

Nine rows and 12 columns take up the entire 34-inch barrel on Canada’s legendary sports trophy, with more than 3,000 champions immortalized.

Until 2021.

“We will say goodbye to 1924,” keeper of the cup Jeff McWhinney tells 680 CJOB. “It will be removed, retired, and we will replace it with whoever the 2021 champion will be.”

It’s something McWhinney and the league knew was coming, and the time is finally here. Unlike the Stanley Cup, which removes a dozen champions at once, he says this process will happen one at a time, year after year.

Keeper of the Grey Cup Jeff McWhinney. Greg Mackling / 680 CJOB

The Queen’s University Golden Gaels will be the first casualty of the real-estate crunch on the trophy, beginning an era where one champion will have to be removed each time a new one is crowned.

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And like every plaque on that trophy, it comes with a story.

“The Winnipeg Victorias were steamrolling right through the Western Conference, and the (Canadian National) and (Canadian Pacific) railway lines were fighting on who was going to take the team east to compete for the Grey Cup.

“Unfortunately we ran out of time, and Queen’s won the Grey Cup that year.”

McWhinney says it’s widely believed the Golden Gaels would have had a tough matchup against the Victorias if that game had ever been played. Instead, Winnipeg waited until 1935, when the ‘Pegs captured the city’s first Grey Cup.

And for another piece of Winnipeg trivia, McWhinney says Queen’s plays at Richardson Stadium — named after George Richardson, brother to well-known Winnipeg businessman and philanthropist James Armstrong Richardson.

The Gaels were not the first Grey Cup champions, but McWhinney says the first 11 are untouchable because they make up the crown at the top of the trophy.

“We can’t, because of the people we hold in such high regard. Most of the people on there fought for our country.”

Among the Queen’s seniors from that team who are enshrined for a few more days is Carl Voss, one of only five men to have their name on both the Grey Cup and Stanley Cup.

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Read more: Bombers’ O’Shea, Ticats’ Steinauer share mutual respect ahead of Grey Cup rematch

Winnipeg made history with its 2019 Grey Cup triumph over Hamilton, when Winnipeg Blue Bombers chairperson Dayna Spiring became the 3,803rd name on the cup — but the first woman.

McWhinney says the change will take some getting used to, but each passing year and new champion only strengthens Canada’s association with the cup.

“(Canada) is the greatest locker room in the world. We have 38 million people in this locker room, and we can’t lose.”

— with files from Greg Mackling

Click to play video: 'Organizers adjust for pandemic Grey Cup, but big celebration still expected in Hamilton' Organizers adjust for pandemic Grey Cup, but big celebration still expected in Hamilton
Organizers adjust for pandemic Grey Cup, but big celebration still expected in Hamilton – Dec 8, 2021

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