Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ah, the good old days, like the 1988 Grey Cup season

  • Print

They are greyer at the temples now and perhaps a little thicker around the midsection.

But members of the 1988 Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- gathered here this week for a 25th anniversary reunion of their title -- have not lost any of their zeal for life and spinning yarns... especially if it details any chapter of their championship, the ninth in franchise history.

"Man, I'll tell you this has been fantastic," said Canadian Football League and Blue Bomber Hall of Famer James Murphy Friday, not long after a luncheon at Investors Group Field to honour the old gang. " To think that after 25 years the personalities don't change... they get bigger, the stories get better. It's like being on a fishing trip."

The '88 Bombers were hardly considered championship material as the campaign opened, or as it unfolded. After 1987 -- featuring one of the greatest collections of Bombers never to win a championship -- the club began anew without Tom Clements, Willard Reaves and Scott Flagel, among others.

The Bombers would limp home at the end of the '88 regular season with three straight losses before knocking off Hamilton and Toronto in the playoffs to set up a finalé with the B.C. Lions in Ottawa. And in the Grey Cup, Winnipeg would not grab the lead until under three minutes remained. Making the ending more dramatic was Michael Gray's interception of a Matt Dunigan pass -- dubbed the "Immaculate Interception" -- that preserved a 22-21 lead.

What made the '88 team special?

"We had great coaches and great leadership all the way up to the management side," said linebacker James West. "In any corporation, when you have great leadership it filters down. That gave us security in the knowledge all we had to do was play football. We had fun because of that.

"And then in the midst of all that, we looked out for each other. You never heard the stories coming out of the Bombers -- some of the stuff we did then would be national news now -- because we kept it in the locker-room. Later on it became jokes, like the stories we've been telling now at this reunion.

"But the competition didn't come from our opponents, it came from ourselves. We were always trying to outshine each other. It wasn't negative, it translated into something good.

"I'll tell you... if you interviewed every one of these guys you'd hear and see their leadership," added West. "(GM) Cal Murphy knew talent and how to find the kind of players he was looking for. You can see now how successful these guys are in whatever they are doing. All of them.

"Close your eyes and pick out any one of them and they are successful or impacting somebody's life. To me, that's amazing and it tells you how many quality people we had on that team."

On Thursday night 20 players from that team -- along with family of the late Steve Rodehutskors -- gathered to watch the '88 game in its entirety. And at the luncheon on Friday there were also video messages from Gray, head coach Mike Riley and linebacker Greg Battle -- all of whom weren't able to attend the reunion.

"That was awesome to watch that game again," said Murphy. "You know what the score's going to be, but still all that emotion and feeling comes back. That last hurrah, with Mike Gray's interception and when everybody was screaming and yelling and clapping... that was unbelievable.

"We had that chemistry around us. When the stakes got higher, the guys knew what time it was. There was a lot of turnover from '87 to '88, but there were a lot of guys around then who all had the same characteristic: We never missed the playoffs in our days as Bombers." Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2013 0

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


I Dream of Diesel at Rachel Brown Theatre scene preview

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Soccer: A Love Story Series

2013 Mazda 5 GX AWD at

NHL's P.K. Subban grew up with the Beautiful Game

He grew up playing soccer with his brothers, and says skills learned in soccer are transferable to hockey



Will Connor McDavid make the Edmonton Oilers a playoff team?

View Results

Ads by Google