On a chilly Saturday, December 7, 1935, a new era in Canadian Football began after a game held at icebound Civic Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario. The Winnipeg Football Club smashed Eastern Canada’s domination of the national championship Grey Cup trophy when it defeated the then Hamilton Tigers by a score of 18-12. It was the climax to four years of planning and hard work done by a devoted group of Winnipeggers which sought to make football a major part of the city’s sports scene.
Winnipeg was the underdog in Hamilton but before one had time to tune in the radio broadcast, Winnipeg was in front by a score of 5-0 (touchdowns counted for five points in those days). As the game continued, Hamilton rallied in the second half but Fritz Hanson scored a touchdown on a 78 yard punt return to kill the Tigers’ hopes. In total, Hanson returned punts for a remarkable 385 yards that afternoon.
In order to reach the final, Winnipeg vanquished the Regina Roughriders 13-6 and Calgary by a score of 7-0. It was a total team effort as Americans Russ Rebholz, Bob Fritz, Herb Peschel, Bert Oja, Bud Marquardt, Joe Perpich, and the amazing Hanson combined with the valiant homebrews to win the West en route to the Grey Cup.
Teams only dressed fifteen men in the early days. Bob Fritz was the quarterback; Fritz Hanson, Russ Rebholz, and Greg Kabat were halfbacks; and Eddie James was the flying wing. Evergreen Rosy Adelman was center, Bert Oja and Eddie Kushner were guards, Herb Peschel and Lou Mogul were tackles, and Bud Marquardt and Joe Perpich were ends. Cliff Roseborough, Tubber Kobrinsky, “Slush” Harris, Arni Coulter, and Jeff Nicklin were the reserves. Joe Ryan was the manager and the man who assembled the team.
Winnipeg’s finest showing provided the impetus for the founding of the Western Conference the following season as Joe Ryan toiled tirelessly to lay the groundwork for professional football in Western Canada.