Go ahead and chuckle if you like, but we’d like to suggest more folks in Saskatchewan can re-live every moment of a fateful Sunday afternoon some 17 years ago — Nov. 26, 1989, to be exact — than can recall the significance of Sept. 1, 1905.
So, never mind the province joining Confederation some 101 years back. But ask almost any Saskatchewan native about ‘The Kick’ and they’ll gush about Dave Ridgway’s heroics and their amazing 1989 Grey Cup champion Roughriders the same way sports fans relive Paul Henderson’s goal against the Russians in 1972.
Saskatchewan was just 9-9 in ’89, but after knocking off the 10-8 Calgary Stampeders and then stunning the powerful Edmonton Eskimos — 16-2 in the regular season — in the West Final, many were pegging them as a team of destiny.And, as fate would have it, they were right.
In what will always be ranked as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, Grey Cup in the championship games history, the Riders and Ticats traded blows in one of those classic CFL slugfests that the scoreboard lights flashing all afternoon.
We’ll fast-forward to the end here for the sake of spacce and try and set up the dramatics…
With 44 seconds left in the game and the Riders leading 40-33, Ticat quarterback Mike Kerrigan hit Tony Champion for a third-down, nine-yard TD strike that tied the game. Champion’s catch — a twisting, turning, diving effort — is considered one of the most spectacular of all time and would live in Grey Cup folklore if not for what happened in the final few seconds.
Saskatchewan QB Kent Austin would move the Riders down the field with the precision of a brain surgeon, setting up a 35-yard Ridway field goal with two seconds remaining and a 43-40 victory.
Ridgway, in his biography ‘Robokicker’, would describe immediate aftermath this way: "My first feeling was a mix of relief, pride and joy all at the same time. I remember yelling, ‘My God, we did it!’ and as I did, Glen (Suitor, the holder) was coming out of his stance, arms raised to signal it was good. I too stabbed my arms in the air, and Glen and I embraced as our teammates ran to join the celebration.
"Glen was babbling, I have no idea what; maybe I was too. There is no way to describe the elation I felt in that split second after I realized the thing I had prepared and trained for all of my life had just happened.”
It DID happen. And ‘The Kick’ will always be remembered fondly as one of the greatest moments in Saskatchewan’s history.
1989 Grey Cup
When: Nov. 26.
Where: SkyDome, Toronto. Attendance: 54,088.
Winning coach: John Gregory. Losing coach: Al Bruno.
Saskatchewan Roughriders 43 – TDs: Ray Elgaard, Jeff Fairholm, Donald Narcisse, Tim McCray; FGs: Dave Ridgway (4) converts: Ridgway (4); single: Terry Baker; safety touch.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 40 – TDs: Tony Champion (2); Derrick McAdoo (2); FGs: Paul Osbaldiston (4); converts: Osbaldiston (4).
Game stars: offence: Kent Austin, QB, Sask.; defence: Chuck Klingbeil, DT, Sask.; Canadian: Dave Ridgway, PK, Sask.