One man, two uniforms: remembering Alberta’s soccer and navy connections

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One man, two uniforms: remembering Alberta’s football and military connections


When responsibility referred to as, Alberta soccer gamers had been fast to swap one uniform for one more.

Many years later, Keoma, Alta.’s Shelly McElroy needs to ensure their sacrifices aren’t forgotten.

“The historical past of soccer and the historical past of the navy had this parallel expertise,” McElroy defined. “When you consider it, in the event you’re the fitting age for the navy, you’d be the fitting age to play soccer too.

“Even earlier than the Stamps had been the Stamps, their historical past walked together with the historical past of southern Alberta, the historical past of Calgary and generally globally, too.”

McElroy has been finding out the navy ties to Alberta’s soccer neighborhood relationship again to the First World Conflict.

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Many gamers from the now-defunct Calgary Tigers, Canucks and Bronks would go on to change into aces, revered chief, and at instances, make the last word sacrifice.

The checklist of the fallen consists of Calgary pilot Donald MacQueen, who flew alongside infamous ace Billy McKnight, who McKnight Boulevard is known as after.

“Don despatched his dad a letter saying that on one event, he needed to land his airplane in rural France and the suspicious locals got here to see what he was doing,” McElroy mentioned. “He had used his highschool French to elucidate that he was a Canadian, not a German as a result of they weren’t very completely satisfied to see him.”

Whereas 2020 marks the primary yr since 1919 that the Gray Cup received’t be handed out, soccer nonetheless continued by the early Nineteen Forties.

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In 1944, England, Canadian and American forces squared off within the “Tea Bowl” to spice up morale.

Either side had six weeks to coach earlier than enjoying in entrance of 32,000 confused British followers, with Paul ‘Pappy’ Rowe main the Canadian Mustangs to a 16-6 victory.

The Calgary Stampeders, as we all know them immediately, had been born as the primary troops returned dwelling.

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“Within the final week of September 1945, we knew the fellows had been going to be coming again and they also picked out a brand new title for the crew – they’re going to be referred to as the Calgary Stampeders,” McElroy defined. “Calgary turned out to greet the primary group of the soldiers that had arrived again.

“They’re marching alongside to Mewata Stadium, there’s a band enjoying a tune referred to as, ‘The Gang’s All Right here.’ However they weren’t.”

Younger males like Donald MacQueen by no means bought to expertise that hero’s welcome.

He was declared lacking when he was solely 20 years outdated, his physique finally recovered and buried in Marne, France.

Again at dwelling, Paul Rowe would captain the ragtag Stampeders to their first Gray Cup win in 1948.

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Calgary Stampeders

Calgary Stampeders.


Calgary Stampeders

McElroy will share the tales of Rowe, MacQueen and dozens extra in a ebook she hopes to finish by subsequent yr’s Labour Day Traditional, in hopes that their sacrifices are by no means forgotten.

“I discovered a program from 1946 that listed all of the Calgary Stampeders that had been within the military, the air power and the navy. It was like three-quarters of the fellows,” McElroy mentioned. “Yearly, we go to McMahon Stadium and we watch these jets go roaring overhead on Labour Day. I can’t be the one one secretly crying behind my sun shades as a result of it’s so cool. These navy hyperlinks had been there from day one.”


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