'66 Champion Riders return home
Published Saturday, July 16, 2016 3:04PM CST Last Updated Monday, July 18, 2016 7:08AM CST
The line-up started at 8:45 a.m., when Murray Harrison arrived at the front door of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday.
The Manitoba native drove more than six hours to meet members of the 1966 Grey Cup Championship Saskatchewan Roughriders at a special autograph session. In Larsen's hand was an original program from the 1966 classic in Vancouver, when the Roughriders of Saskatchewan took on the Rough Riders of Ottawa.
"Well, die hard Rider fan, I've been to three of the four Grey Cup wins,” Harrison said. “I was too young to go to 66, I was seven. I've heard about it through story and legend."
Leroy Larsen arrived shortly after Harrison. Another Manitoban, he jumped in his car to have this opportunity. Larsonwas at that 1966 Grey Cup championship game in Vancouver with a friend.
"It followed me out of the stadium!" he said, holding up an old seat cushion. "I was at the Grey Cup game in 1966 with my buddy and when we left, this seat cushion happened to stick to my rear end and I've saved it for 50 years!"
"(That's) Rider pride personified,” former Rider Dale West said. “The folks just support the club so well and we really appreciated it a long time ago and I'm sure the club loves it now." He's one of 15 players who came from across North America to share in the celebrations for the outgoing Mosaic Stadium (Taylor Field) in Regina.
In eight visits to the Grey Cup championship game, Saskatchewan had never found success. But in Vancouver, that changed. Legendary Roughrider quarterback Ron Lancaster threw for three touchdowns and running back George Reed cemented his spot as one of the best players at his position in league history, if not THE best, en route to a 29-14 win over Ottawa and the team's first Grey Cup win.
"We had a great bunch of guys and everything else and we kind of played for one another and to see them,” George Reed remembers. “So when you see them and everything, it kind of rekindles the memories and everything of the first Grey Cup."
Sitting beneath the original banner they brought home 50 years ago, the players signed autographs and shared stories of years gone by.
Former Rider Don Gerhardt now calls Minnesota home. He says only fans in Green Bay would truly understand the passion that Rider fans have for their team. He’s happy he was able to get together with his former teammates once more.
"This is really special, we know we won't be getting this bunch together again more than likely," he says. "These guys still have a love for each other and it’s very very special, so this is wonderful."
The first two fans at the event today left happy, with their cherished momentos signed and a new memory of their favourite team.
Celebrations to commemorate the "Farewell Season" continue at Mosaic Stadium all year long. Stay tuned to our website for updates.