Year By Year History Part 1

 

1873 – The Toronto Argonauts Football club was formed as part of the Argonaut Rowing Club using the double blue colours of Oxford and Cambridge for club members who were rugby football enthusiasts. The game was a form of rugby and scoring consisted of placing the ball over the goal line (a try) thus allowing the attacking team a chance to kick over the uprights (a goal). UofT defeated the Argonaut Rowing Club 1 try & 1 goal to nil on Oct. 11. Against Hamilton on Oct. 18, Toronto won 1 try 1 goal to nil. H.T. Glazebrook, an Englishman by birth, was appointed team captain and by tradition, the club’s first head coach.

1874 – The Rowing Club executive permitted non-members to play on the rugby football team for the first time at the rate of $1.00 a season. Two back-to-back games with Hamilton ended in scoreless ties, but against the Toronto Lacrosse Club, the Argos won 5 tries and 3 goals to nil.

1875 – H. Lambe became the second head coach and the Argos played two games. UofT defeated the Boatmen on a goal from a free kick, 1 -0. Varsity’s average age was 18 years while Toronto’s was 23.

1876 – Four games were played under new head coach W.H. Perram.

1877 – Toronto scheduled only one game that year, against Hamilton on Nov. 22. It was a tight contest but Hamilton won 2 tries 1 goal to 1 try.

1878 – Captain Bedford became the 4th head coach of the Argonauts and 2 games were played. Trinity College was a scoreless tie but the Argos lost against to the UofT boys.

1879 – Too many injuries to the members during the competitive rowing season forced the Argonaut Football Club to cease operation for the year.

1880 – The first change in Canadian football was noted on the playing fields. The first
principle of possession was introduced in that the forwards no longer bunched-up to kick the ball out of the “scrum”, but rather lined up side-by-side and across from one another, thus creating the first linemen of the game. Under the “open formation”, the Argos, with new coach Orville Murphy, played Upper Canada College, Trinity College and the Guelph Football Club.

1881 – With the open formation being more readily accepted, Toronto played 4 games this year against Upper Canada College, the Britannia Football Club of Montreal, Trinity College and the Trinity College School of Port Hope.

1882 – Hume Blake became the new head coach and Toronto travelled to Montreal to take on the
Britannia Club. Then, on the return trip home Bruce MacLaren kicked 2 goals and Blake another as the Argonauts defeated Hamilton 3-0.

1883 – The oldest organized league in North America was founded by the formation of the Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) and with it a new scoring system. Tries (touchdowns) were now worth 4 points, goals (converts) increased to 4 points, goals from the field (field goals) were 6 points, safety touches 2 points and rouge (singles) 1 point. A.H. Campbell was the head coach and Toronto won its first game from Varsity 23-1. In the return match, the Scullers lost 3-0 but, captured the series. Britannia Football Club lost 23-7 and in the first ORFU Championship game the Argonauts defeated Ottawa City 9-7.

1884 – Captain Blake returned to the coaching helm of the good ship Argonaut. Toronto finished the second season of ORFU Football with a 3-1 record. Toronto was shutout by Montreal 30-0 in the title contest.

1885 – Rupert Muntz became the eighth Argo head coach. Playing a five-game schedule, the Argonauts finished the season 3-2-0 and were eliminated from the playoffs.

1886 – Playing better football, Toronto won their first four games, finishing in first place. In the championship match, Toronto lost to Ottawa College 13-1. In a contest against Peterborough, the Argonauts set a team record, scoring 12 touchdowns in a 68-6 win.

1887 – The field goal dropped from 6 to 5 points and Hugh Smith began his four-year tenure as the Argonauts Head Coach. In a home-and-home series with Hamilton, the Argos won the first game 9-5, but dropped the second 10-8. Toronto was eliminated from further play when they were defeated by Trinity College.

1888 – Toronto had three wins in five games, defeating Upper Canada College 35-1, Stratford Rugby Club 20-4 and U of T’s Varsity side 10-0.

1889 – In a revised schedule, the Argonauts trounced Stratford 45-0 and then clobbered Hamilton Tigers 46-0 a week later. Ottawa College stopped Toronto in the championship game winning 17-2.

1890 – Playing only two games, Toronto was eliminated from further play losing 8-5 to Hamilton and 17-6 to Varsity.

1891 – Goals from tries (converts) were now 2 points and R. Bayley became captain of the Argonaut Football Club and the Argonauts’ new head coach. The Boatmen had problems as a porous defence gave up 91 points and the Argos lost all three of its seasonal games to Osgoode Hall and Hamilton.

1892 – In an exhibition game, Toronto blasted London Rugby Football Club 94-0 and when the season started, the Argonauts were undefeated. The playoff match with Hamilton proved to be a tight contest and by halftime, the teams were scoreless. In the second half, Hamilton won the game 5-1.

1893 – Under newly-appointed head coach Billy Wood, the Argos played some inspired football. Queen’s University won the playoff series over Toronto 28-3 and 27-7.

1894 – Joe Wright Sr., a popular football personality, was appointed Argo head coach. In play, Hamilton limited the Argos to just two TDs and won both series games 25-10 and 29-5.

1895 – For the next three years, the Argonauts failed to field an official team because of a dispute over the rules and professionalism between executives of the Argonaut Rowing Club and the ORFU Officials. Argo members were allowed to play for a football team under TAC Lornes’ banner.

1898 – Another change in Canadian football was made in 1897, the second principle of possession was introduced. Teams in control of the ball now had to gain 5 yards (or lose 20) in 3 downs in order to maintain possession. Back playing regulation games under Joe Wright Sr., the Argonauts were in for a very hard time competitively. The Argos scored only 19 points and gave up 140 while losing all six scheduled games including a 48-6 defeat by the ORFU champs, Ottawa Rough Riders.

1899 – R.C. Ripley was elected as the Argonauts captain. The Argonauts were 3-3-0 and finished in third place.

1900 – Entering a new century, it took Toronto until the last game of the season to capture first place with a 4-2 record. The Ottawa Rough Riders proved too powerful and the Argos lost 20-12 in playoff action.

1901 – Pud Kent became the Double Blue’s fourteenth mentor in the 20 year existence of the team. Toronto, now known as the Argonaut Rugby Football Club, lost only one game and finished in first spot with a 5-1 record. Their only defeat was 2-0 by the Kingston Granites. In the playoffs, Ottawa College defeated Toronto in a two game series to capture the ORFU title.

1902 – The Argonauts made the playoffs but lost their two-game series to Ottawa.

1903 – Playing only exhibition games, Toronto finished with only one win in five starts, a 40-1 triumph over the Torontos for the city championship.

1904 – Another change was noted in the scoring system. Tries were now 5 points and Goals from tries (converts) 1 point. Under newly appointed playing head coach Fred Thompson, in league competition, Toronto won two games and lost three finishing in second place behind the powerful Hamilton Tigers.

1905 – The Toronto Victorias defeated Argos 28-8 and 22-3. In their next two games, Hamilton hammered Toronto 41-7, and 22-10, eliminating the Argonauts from further play.

1906 – Two changes occurred in Canadian football. Teams now had to gain only 10 yards in 3 downs and the value of the field goal changed to 4 points. In the final year of the ORFU, the Argonauts, under head coach Chaucer Elliott, finished in second spot with a 3-2 record.

1907 – Toronto’s inaugural season of play in the new Inter-provincial Rugby Football Union league wasn’t one of the best for the Boatmen as they finished in last under the coaching duo of Fred Russell and Art Kent. Peter Flett’s individual performance was one of the brighter spots as he won the IRFU scoring title with 29 points including four four-point field goals.

1908 – The value of the field goal reached its present level of 3 points.  The second year of the IRFU didn’t start off well for the Argos, finishing 1-5-0. Mert Kent kicked an Argonaut record 20 singles during the season.

1909 – Ottawa won the lRFU title and Toronto finished the year with at 1-5-0. Their only victory was against the Montreal Football Club, 22-4.

1910 – Under returning head coach Elliott, the Argonauts finished the season 3-3-0 and tied Ottawa for second place in the IRFU standings. Ross Binkley won the scoring title with 34 points, including setting a club record with six field goals.

1911 – The Argonauts move into Varsity Stadium with Billy Foulds at the Argonauts coaching helm. Binkley again winning the overall scoring title (20 points). Toronto finished the season in first place at 5-1-0. Unfortunately, the Argos lost their first Grey Cup game to UofT 14-7. A highlight of the season was Billy Mallett kicking eight singles in one game against Montreal.

1912 – A change in head coach with Jack Newton at the controls again, Toronto finished in first place with an identical 5-1 record. The Argos defeated UofT 22-16 in an IRFU playoff game, but lost the Grey Cup to the Hamilton Alerts 11-4.

1913 – Toronto finished with an even split; 3-3-0, good for third place.  Player/Coach Binkley set a club record with 10 field goals and 54 career singles.

1914 – The First World War had begun, and the Boatmen finished 5-1-0 scoring a record-setting 47 points against Ottawa and 145 points on the season. Since both Toronto and Hamilton had identical win-loss records, they played off, but the game ended 9-9 and was called due to darkness. In the second contest, Toronto won decisively, then went on to defeat the UofT 14-2 for the Grey Cup win. Foulds was back as the Argonauts Head Coach and Jack O’Connor won the scoring title with a record 44 points, including an individual record 21 points in the last game of the season against Montreal. In a playoff game with the Hamilton Rowing Club, Everett Smith and Clad Murphy combined for a touchdown on a 130-yard punt return – the first two-man kick return for a score.

1915 – With the head coaching duties split between Foulds and Warren Caryell and many players off to fight for the armed services, Toronto slipped to second place with a 4-2 record. O’Connor set a Big Four record with 21 career converts, while Argonaut teammate Doug Garrett won the scoring title with 42 points.

1916 to 1918 – No games played due to the Great War.

1919 – With the First World War finally over, the IRFU resumed full operation, and the surprise of the year was the unexpected first place finish of the Montreal Football Club. Under new Head Coach Sinc McEvenue, the Argonauts finished 3-3-0 with a second place tie in the standings with Hamilton. Argos’ Garrett again won the scoring title with 25 points.

1920 – Toronto, coached by Mike Rodden, rallied to a first place finish and a 5-1-0 record. The Argos played a semi-final game against the Toronto Rowing Club which the Boatmen won, but a disputed call resulted in the rescheduling of the game with the second-half being replayed. The Argonauts eventually won that game 5-2, but lost the Grey Cup to the UofT 16-3.

1921 – LIONEL CONACHER! By the time the regular season was over, the “Big Train,” as he was nicknamed, had set an IRFU scoring record of 85 points on 14 touchdowns, including 12 rushing. The Argos posted a perfect first place 6-0-0 record with McEvenue back as head coach and a record 167 scoring points. Toronto defeated first the UofT Varsity team and Toronto Parkdale in the playoffs, then shut out the Edmonton Eskimos 23-0 in the first East-West Grey Cup finale.

1922 – With his backfield partner Harry Batstone gone, Conacher still won the scoring title with 56 points and set another IRFU record of 33 singles for new Argo head coach Jack O’Connor. Although scoring fewer touchdowns, Conacher rushed for 950 yards and powered Toronto to an unbeaten 5-0-1 record. In their first playoff game, the Argonauts defeated Toronto Parkdale. In the second game against Queen’s, Conacher was the entire Argo attack rushing a record 35 times for 232 yards. However, it was not enough as Toronto lost the tight game 12-11.

1923 – Both Hamilton and Toronto lost only one game all season long but Toronto ended up in second spot with a 3-1-2 win-loss-tie record due to a final regular schedule contest loss to the Tigers. Toronto led in points scored with 71, and Dunc Monro won the scoring title with 23.

1924 – All season Toronto trailed the Hamilton Tigers eventually finishing second place in the standings and a 4-2-0 record. For the second time in Argonauts history, two players combined on a punt return for a score. Against Ottawa, Archie Thomas and Gord Thom ran 125 yards for the major.

1925 – The Argonauts completely reversed their record and finished 2-4-0. Ottawa, now called the Senators, finished in first place, and went on to win the Grey Cup.

1926 – Although Rodden returned to the Argonauts coaching helm, Ottawa again finished in
first place, with their only loss of the season coming at the hands of the Argonauts 24-0.  Hank Sinclair scored the final touchdown of the game. The win gave Toronto a tie for second place with Hamilton as each club had a 3-3, win-loss record.

1927 – The Boatmen, coached by Frank Knight, settled for third place with a 2-3-1 record. Dunc Monro led the Argos with 24 points, almost half of the team’s total scoring output.

1928 – Toronto went from bad to worse ending up in a dead last tie with Montreal. Both
teams posted disappointing 1-4-1 marks. Against Ottawa, Frank Turville scored 18 points, equalling a club record of eight singles in one game and rushing for 177 yards.

1929 – Under Head Coach Buck McKenna, Toronto finished third with a 3-3-0. Frank Turville won the scoring title with 34 points, including 16 singles.

1930 – The Depression was in full swing and so were the Hamilton Tigers. They finished the season with a 4-0-2 mark, while Toronto had to settle for second place with a 4-1-1 mark.

1931 – Frank Turville won the scoring title with 26 points. The first completed Argonaut forward pass was successfully thrown: a 25-yard effort from Teddy Morris to Bill Darling against Hamilton on October 10. In a contest against Ottawa on October 31, Toronto’s Moe Charney made Argo history by intercepting an enemy forward pass. It was the first official pass interception.

1932 – With the Toronto coaching duties split between McKenna and Lew Hayman, it was another break-even year for the Boatmen, as they finished in third place again with three wins against three losses.

1933 – In his first season as Head Coach, Lew Hayman’s Argos started off the year by losing
two games in a row, but ended up by winning their last four to tie Montreal for first place. In the playoffs, the Argos knocked off Montreal and Winnipeg and then won the Grey Cup against the Sarnia lmperials. During the season, Argo history was made on October 21 when Andy Mullan threw Toronto’s first touchdown pass going 15 yards to Jack Taylor for the score.

1934 – In a see-saw battle all season with Montreal and Hamilton, Toronto finished the schedule tied for second place with Montreal at 3-2-1.

1935 – After winning their first six contests, the Boatmen fell apart for the last three contests and ultimately finished in second. Hamilton took top spot completing the regular schedule 7-2.

1936 – The Boatmen finished in first place with a record of four wins against two losses. Both Hamilton and Ottawa tied for second with a 3-3 record. Hamilton and Ottawa competed in playoff with Ottawa winning and subsequently knocking off the Argonauts 22-6 in two-games. On October 3, Art West became the first Argo to return an INT all the way for a TD traveling 65 yards.

1937 – Once again, the Argonauts finished in first place with only one loss during the regular season. ln the playoffs, Toronto defeated Ottawa in a two-game total points series 21-16 and went on to knock off the ORFU champion, the Sarnia lmperials. The Argos, behind the superb punting performance of Bob Isbister, then edged the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 4-3 to take the Grey Cup.

1938 – Ottawa was a lot stronger this year as they led the Boatmen for top spot with identical 5-1, win-loss records. In the playoffs, the Argos defeated Ottawa and Sarnia and again won the Grey Cup defeating Winnipeg 3O-7. Highlights of the season were Toronto’s Annis Stukus, Art West and Buster “Red” Storey finishing one, two and three in the scoring race. Toronto set an Interprovincial Rugby Football Union scoring record with a 58-13 win over Montreal.

1939 – Storey won the scoring title with 25 points including five touchdowns, four on
passes. Ottawa took first place and Toronto finished in second spot with a 4-1-1 record. In the playoffs, Toronto lost both its games to Ottawa 39-6.

1940 – Bill Stukus set an Argonaut record, scoring 11 career touchdown passes. The Double Blue ended up second to Ottawa. In the playoffs, Ottawa defeated Toronto 20-2 in total points over two games.

1941 – Due to the Second World War, Hamilton was replaced by Toronto Balmy Beach and the Eastern Rugby Union was formed. The Argonauts finished in first place tied with Ottawa as both clubs posted identical records 5-1-0. The Argos were eliminated in the playoffs losing to Ottawa 18-17 over two games.

1942 to 1944 – Play cancelled due to WWII.

1945 – With the second World War over, the Big Four resumed operation and both Ottawa and the Ted Morris coached Argos finished in a tie for first place, both 5-1-0. In the playoffs, Toronto defeated Ottawa, Balmy Beach and then Winnipeg 35-0 for the Grey Cup title. The highlight of the season was the last game in which the Argonauts’ Royal Copeland caught 10 passes for 147 yards including four of Joe Krol’s strikes for TDs.

1946 – A rebirth of the Montreal Football Club resulted in a tie with Toronto for first place at the end of the new 12-game regular schedule. Both Krol and Montreal’s Wagner finished in a tie for the scoring title with 65 points each. In the playoffs, Toronto defeated the Alouettes, Balmy Beach and finally Winnipeg 28-7 for the Grey Cup crown.

1947 – Again, Ottawa struggled with the Argonauts for the Big Four title and finished in first place ahead of Toronto with a 7-4-1 record. However, in the playoffs, the Boatmen defeated Ottawa and then the Ottawa Troians. In the Grey Cup classic, Winnipeg was defeated for the third consecutive year 10-9 by the Argos.

1948 – After the first three games Toronto was riding along in first place a perfect 3-0-0. However, Ottawa was dominant all season and finished 10-2-0. The Argos, slipped to third place with a 5-6-1 mark.

1949 – Toronto did no better than the year before as they lost all four regular season games to Ottawa, who finished with 11-1-0 record. The Double Blue had to settle for a 5-7-0 record and third spot again. The only highlight for Toronto was Joe Krol setting an Argonaut and FRFU scoring record of 22 career TD passes.

1950 – Prior to the start of the season, the now late Frank Clair (who arrived from the University of Cincinnati) replaced Teddy Morris as the Argos’ Head Coach. The Argonauts started the season with three overwhelming wins. In playoffs, the Argos won trounced the Ticats and then defeated Balmy Beach of the OBFU. Toronto went on to blank Winnipeg 13-0 for Earl Grey’s Cup in the infamous Mud Bowl. During the week, Toronto was hit with a powerful snowstorm and the day prior to the game grounds keepers at Varsity Stadium decided to bulldoze the field. The result was a slippery mess that was dubbed the Mud Bowl. The Argonauts wore the longest cleats they could find and QB Al Dekdebrun (who replaced Krol) taped thumbtacks to his fingers to help his grip on the ball.