November 12, 2006

Grey Cup Moments: 1988

Nov. 27, 1988
Game site: Lansdowne Park, Ottawa.
Attendance: 50,604.
Winning coach: Mike Riley.

There have been dominant Winnipeg Blue Bomber Grey Cup champions which rolled to victory like Roman Legions, as expected. And then there are the 1988 Bombers — the most unlikely and improbable of the franchise’s 10 title winners.

The ’88 team was supposed to be a team in transition, following the disappointment of the year previous (the ’87 Bombers finished 12-6 but were upset at home by the Argos in the East Final) and after the retirements of Tom Clements and Joe Poplawski and the departures of Willard Reaves, Tyrone Jones, Scott Flagel, Roy Bennett and Jeff Boyd.

After a 2-4 start, the Bombers finished 9-9 — only the fifth-best record in the CFL — and after upsetting the heavily-favoured Argos in the East Final, advanced to the Grey Cup. Even then, they were 10-point underdogs against a B.C. Lions squad led by Matt Dunigan and David Williams.

But the plucky Bombers, led by quarterback Sean Salisbury — who had been added to the roster just four months earlier — got just enough of every thing for the victory. Just enough offence, including a spectacular five-catch, 165-yard-effort by James Murphy. Just enough Trevor Kennerd, who booted four field goals. Just enough Bob Cameron, who was named the top Canadian for his spectacular punting in driving winds. And more than enough defence — especially Mike Gray’s ‘Immaculate Interception’ on the Bomber two-yard line after Delbert Fowler had tipped a Dunigan pass intended for Jan Carinci.

It was the first championship for the team’s likable boss, Mike Riley, and the Bombers became the first team with a .500 record to win the Grey Cup.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 22 – TD: James Murphy; FGs: Trevor Kennerd (4); convert: Kennerd; singles: Kennerd, Bob Cameron (2).
B.C. Lions 21 – TDs: Anthony Cherry, David Williams: FG: Lui Passaglia; converts: Passaglia (2); singles: Passaglia (2); safety touch.