Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review of "100 Grey Cups'

Tonight there is a championship football game - the Grey Cup game for the championship of the Canadian Football League. I have started watching games from this league with its different rules, longer field and open play. Canada will be partying just like the United States will on February 1 for the Super Bowl -and has been for many years more than the U.S. In 2012, the 100th Grey Cup game was played and a book was written about the history of the trophy and game to commemorate the occasion.  It is a terrific book and I highly recommend it for any football fan. Here is my review of that book.

“100 Grey Cups: This Is Our Game” by Stephen Brunt

Football (Canadian), professional, championship, history

Publish date:
October 2, 2012

224 pages

4 ½ of 5 stars (excellent) 

The Grey Cup is the championship game of the Canadian Football League and like its American counterpart, the Super Bowl, Grey Cup Sunday is a day in which the entire nation will celebrate the game of football and people will attend parties for the game whether or not they are fans. However, the Grey Cup had an inauspicious debut and some interesting games and history during its infancy in the early 20th century.  During the 2012 CFL season, which would culminate with the 100th Grey Cup game, sportswriter Stephen Brunt published a book that looks at the history of not only the game, but also of the trophy and some of the teams that have made the history of this championship game very interesting.

Hockey fans know of the history of the Stanley Cup trophy and its humble beginnings.  The Grey Cup has a similar history of its own as it too was passed from various players and teams that didn’t exactly treat it with reverence. The chapters on the early history of the game alone were worth reading but the remaining chapters about the teams that have won the Grey Cup were interesting as well.

This book did not simply list each game’s winner and give a brief description of the games, although there is an index listing the winning team, losing team and MVPs for each year up to 2011. Chapters were in chronological order, but chosen for significant moments in Grey Cup history.  For example, the 1948 season was highlighted as the year that not only a team from the western portion of the country won the game, but it was when the Grey Cup became a national party. Other seasons highlighted included 1978 when the Edmonton Eskimos began a long run as the champions, 1995 when the Baltimore Stallions became the first and only team based in an American city to win the Grey Cup and 1935 when Winnipeg became the first team to win with American players on the roster.

The chapters would not only highlight the Grey Cup game and season, but would also narrate an interesting history on the franchise highlighted in the chapter.  For example, the chapter on the 1935 game talked about the entire history of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers team, including the 1950’s teams coached by NFL Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant and the later struggles for the franchise.  The most interesting chapter was the one on the 1995 champs, as the team was created by an experiment to expand the CFL into American cities. Baltimore was eager for football as this was the time between the Colts leaving and the Ravens arriving.  They put together a great team on the field and were the only franchise to stay intact when the American experiment ended, moving to Montreal to become the new Montreal Alouettes.

The book was well written, well researched and fun to read.  The only quibble I had was in a couple spots the scores given while writing about the progress of the game did not make sense.  For example, in the 1978 chapter about the Edmonton Eskimos, when describing the start of the third quarter, it was stated that the “Esks led 14-4 at the half, and stretched it to 17-3 not long after the break.”  There is no subtraction of points in the CFL, so this was confusing, most likely a typo that was missed.  It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book – but it was enough to keep me from giving this a perfect 5 star rating. 

This was a fun book to read and learn more about the history of the Grey Cup.  The author writes proudly about its uniquely Canadian flavor and that made me enjoy the book even more, as it was apparent the author enjoyed writing it. Anyone who enjoys the Canadian version of football or wants to learn more will enjoy reading this.   

Did I skim?
No, as I was eager to learn about the history of the trophy and the game.  Therefore, I carefully read each chapter and took a little longer reading this book than usual.

Pace of the book: 
It took awhile to get through the book. Not only because the aforementioned desire to learn more about the game, but also because the chapters did not seem to flow freely while reading.  The main topic or team covered in the chapter would not necessarily be the subject throughout the chapter.  While very interesting and informative, it made me read the book a little more carefully.

Do I recommend? 
Anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the Canadian Football League, its signature game or the rich history of the trophy itself will want to pick this book up.  As a fan that has started watching and learning the Canadian game, this was an interesting look at the Grey Cup trophy and game.

Book Format Read:
E-book (Nook)

Buying links:

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