Vanstone: Dream project finally became reality in 2006

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After Saskatchewan lost 23-20 to Ottawa in 1976 — a game that I attended with my dear mother — the Roughriders did not make the CFL playoffs again until 1988.

The following year, they actually won a Grey Cup, thanks to a Dave Ridgway field goal that gave Saskatchewan a 43-40 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) in Toronto.

I attended that game, strictly as an observer, on Nov. 26, 1989 — the 23rd anniversary of the Roughriders’ landmark Grey Cup victory.

Even then, I maintained a curiosity about the one championship-clinching victory that I could not recount from first-hand experience.

Thanks to my dream job, I had a licence to do a deep dive into 1966.

It was déjà vu, in a sense.

As a teenager, I frequently visited the Regina Public Library to read microfilmed editions of the Leader-Post from 1966. When I parked myself in front of the L-P’s microfilm machine in 2006, I remembered some of the articles and once again appreciated the phrasing of Laurie Artiss, who was principally responsible for covering the Roughriders of 1966.

By the time the reunion was nigh, all of my stories had been completed. That allowed me to enjoy the reunion without wondering, “What should I write today?”

One day, while watching the 2006 Roughriders practise at Taylor Field, legendary centre Ted Urness — who had been so generous with his time and insights throughout the research process — walked over just to say hello. The whole time, I was in awe, thinking, “Ted Urness wants to talk to ME?!”

That same day, Ron Lancaster — who threw three touchdown passes in the 1966 Grey Cup game — held court with the media as only he could.

“They said there were all these seasons in Saskatchewan,” he began. “The wind blew in the winter, the spring and the summer, and Lancaster would blow playoff games in the fall.”

We all roared.

It was that kind of day — that kind of magical weekend.

Not even a lopsided loss by the Roughriders could detract from the occasion.

The book, by the way, was published three years later.

(Rob Vanstone is the Regina Leader-Post’s sports editor.)

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