If you are a Dalhousie Tigers football alumni. Saturday September 29th turned out to be a perfect day. In the late morning, to celebrate Dalhousie’s 200th Anniversary, 30 awards were handed out to celebrate ten decade greats from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Nostalgia was high!
Joel Jacobson, the MC of the event, heightened the memory lane stroll with his questioning of the greats. Reg Cluney, in my mind, probably the greatest player of all time for leading the Tigers to two Purdy Cups in 1951 and 1954, raised the level with poignant comments and humour.
Another 50’s star, Garry Watson, had to cancel his trip from Whistler because of a recent hospitalization. But he did send a note vividly describing a few of his game situations. Unable to stream the game in the hospital, his son came to his rescue giving him a play by play over the phone of the amazing come from behind 25-24 victory for the black and gold in triple overtime.
Dr Bill Stanish, a ‘57-‘66, missed his honouring at the reception due to fog at the Stanfield Airport and had to return to Montreal on Friday night. The late Don Tome’s children Patti and Peter, flying out of Toronto, experienced the same scenario. Dr Merv Shaw, a former head coach in the late ‘50’s distributed the awards along with Reg Cluney who was an assistant coach for 5 years after his playing days.
It was an emotional former long time assistant coach Ken Bellemere, who handed out the ‘67-‘76 framed certificates. Man hugs were abundant. Brian Gervais, an all Canadian tight end for the Tigers and a five year CFL veteran was the last to speak. A pastor, Gervais who had travelled from Abbotsford BC, was soft spoken in relaying life lessons he encountered in playing football at Dalhousie.
Long distance travel claim did not go to Gervais or to Doug Parker, who had come from the white sand beaches of Sarasota Florida, but to Wayne and Nancy MacDonald from Victoria. Wayne, a former university football coach with St. FX and Acadia before becoming athletic director at Dal, was impressed with Dal’s second come from behind victory in two weeks. Later that evening at a house party, the majority of the ‘70’s decade greats’ hyperbole may have increased as they recalled battlefield drama from over fifty years ago, while puffing on cigars and drinking their favourite sarsaparilla.
Numerous comments were made about a relatively lack lustre game which exploded late in the forth quarter as Holland College took the lead and Dal rallied to tie at 18-18. Offensively the Hurricanes were led by the running of Rodrigo Montes de Oca and the acrobatic catching of Allister Nicholson on long balls from Brady Crowe. The later must be remedied by next week’s rematch.
Zach Kuhn’s spin move running, accounted for 101/14 carries for two TDs, while Chris Duplisea had an off day passing, many of his throws were high because of the Hurricane rush. He did score on a QB sneak for the OT victory. Confusion by the officials at the end of regulation and during OT was obvious. But the last few minutes of regulation and OT had a true WOW factor. Holland’s penalties, especially a rarely called tandem back probably cost them the game. On their 3rd possession set, after the Tigers scored to take the lead, the Hurricanes scored and attempted a two point convert to win the game. But Dal’s D stoned the attempt. It was bedlam as the Tiger players and fans stormed the field in jubilation. Dal football’s homecoming on the 200th anniversary was as perfect as the weather and the team’s 3-0 record.