Today, the Toronto Argonauts celebrate what many believe to be one of the most important championships the city of Toronto has ever seen – the 1983 Grey Cup.
It was on this day (November 27th) in 1983 when the Toronto Argonauts ended a 31-year Grey Cup drought by upsetting the B.C. Lions on their own turf 18-17 in front of 59,345 spectators at Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium.
After capturing first place in the CFL Eastern Division, the Argonauts edged out rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 1983 East Final 41-36 en route to their second consecutive Grey Cup appearance.
The Lions jumped out to an early first quarter lead and the Boatmen seemed like they were on their way to yet another Grey Cup loss. The Boatmen had been defeated one season earlier by the Edmonton Eskimos at Exhibition Stadium, and suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Calgary Stampeders in 1971.
The 1983 edition of the Argos were much different. With QB Condredge Holloway struggling, backup quarterback Joe Barnes came off the bench to take over the good-ship Argonaut. Toronto’s defence, led by DB Carl Brazley, shut out the Lions in the second half, allowing Barnes to get the club back into the game.
With the fourth quarter coming to a close, and the Argos down by 6, Barnes hit WR Paul Pearson over the middle to keep the game-winning drive alive. Barnes capped off the drive with a strike to RB Cedric Minter who burst in to the endzone to complete one of the most memorable plays in Toronto sports history.
Following the game, the Argos, led by Head Coach Bob O’Billovich, held the Grey Cup high for the first time since 1952. The curse was over and two days later over 60,000 fans flooded Bay Street in Toronto to celebrate the return of their heroes and the Grey Cup.
“It was a surreal experience for me. 1983 was really a magical year. I just came back from college and I was playing for my hometown Argos. To be part if that season and be on that team was something special, it all rushed by so fast.
I remember sitting with my father after the game having a beer. I had to take a minute to sit back and reminisce about what had just happened. And it didn’t stop, there were so many people at the airport (in Toronto) when we landed.
The CFL was at its peak. It was a really good time to be a player especially a rookie.”
- OT Kelvin Pruenster
“For me, it was so much fun because I’m from Vancouver. Bob O’Billovich will tell you that Vancouver used to shutdown on Sundays and the next day we had a party at my dad’s house. Most of the team was there, even some of the Lions. To win the Grey Cup over B.C. in Vancouver was really special.”
- WR Paul Pearson
“I was a Toronto kid and the first Grey Cup I remember watching was when (Leon) McQuay slipped and fumbled. I cried for about a week after that. I was fortunate to play with a cast of characters and talented individuals who cared so much.
As Dan Ferrone said after the game, “Toronto, It’s coming home!”
- RB Jan Carinci
“I see guys from that team every year and it’s like no time has passed.”
- OT Tom Trifaux
“What was so enjoyable about that team was we all started in 1981 and ended up 2-14 that year. The next year we went to the Grey Cup and Greer had the greatest season ever in 1982, but we lost to Edmonton. Then in 1983 we put it all together.
It was great to be around a bunch of guys who went from 2-14 and then work so hard together and go all the way to the Grey Cup championship in such a short time – that says it all.”
- QB Condredge Holloway
“It was a great group of guys with great chemistry. We played very unselfish and that’s what I enjoyed about playing.”
- QB Joe Barnes
“The 83' Grey Cup was certainly a special time for all of us that were part of the Argonauts organization. We were the underdogs going into the game and even at half-time (down 17-7). BC Place was incredibly noise all game until the gun went off and all we could hear were 2 sections of loyal Argo fans in the end zone. The victory did not set in until we landed in Toronto to be greeted by thousands of Argonaut faithful and of course the memorable parade the next day on Bay Street. Aside from the victory itself, it is the life-long friendships with teammates, coaches, equipment personnel, trainers and administration that we all have to cherish forever.”
- DS Steve Ackroyd
“Playing in a Grey Cup (or two) is always a great accomplishment for the players and city they play for. But winning the Grey Cup is ultimate!
Winning the Grey Cup in 1983 for the city of Toronto was (and still is) very special to me. I loved living in Toronto and playing football for the Argonauts. I wear my Grey Cup ring everyday! I was so happy for the city because the fans and the city hadn't won a Grey Cup since 1952. Thank all the Toronto Argonauts fans for supporting us and not jumping ship.
- RB Cedric Minter
Watch highlights of the final drive of the 1983 Grey Cup on ArgosTV by clicking here.
- Footage courtesy CBC
1983 GREY CUP ROSTER
November 27, 1983 vs. British Columbia Lions
WR Terry Greer
WR Emanuel Tolbert
WR Paul Pearson
WR Geoff Townsend
WR Greg Holmes
RB Cedric Minter
RB Jan Carinci
RB John Palazeti
QB Joe Barnes
QB Condredge Holloway
OL Tom Trifaux
OL Dan Ferrone
OL Tony Antunovic
OL Mike Hameluck
OL John Malinosky
OL Bill Norton
DL Kevin Pruenster
DL Earl Wilson
DL Stephen Del Col
DL Franklin King
DL Rick Mohr
LB James Curry
LB Tony Lawson
LB Don Moen
LB Gordon Elser
LB William Mitchell
DB Ken McEachern
DB Darrell Nicholson
DB Darrell Wilson
DB Steve Ackroyd
DB Carl Brazley
DB Marcellus Greene
DB Leroy Paul
P/K Hank Ilesic
**Note: Injured List and Practice Roster not included**
Date:November 27, 1983
Location: BC Place Stadium
Host City: Vancouver, BC
Announcers: Don Wittman, Leo Cahill, Ron Lancaster.
Most Valuable Player
Offence: Joe Barnes (TOR)
Defence: Carl Brazley (TOR)
Most Valuable Canadian: Rick Klassen (BC)