UNITED KINGDOM – Excitement over the Argonauts making it into the 100th Grey Cup matchup has reached around the world. It is a fact that Portuguese, Lithuanians, Australians, and hundreds of English folk who are fortunate enough to live close enough to this Argos fan have heard all about the recent news in Argoland. However, after passing through Belgium a few weeks ago and trying to explain the excitement of the Grey Cup, a lady asked me if the Mr Grey of Grey-Cup fame was in any way related to Mr Grey from 50 Shades of Grey. If that’s not awkward I don’t know what is.
I started to ask some Europeans and history buffs in pubs across the United Kingdom about what Mr Grey of Grey-Cup fame was really all about. His name was Albert Grey, the 4th Earl Grey and it turns out he was a beauty. He was an English bloke who served as the ninth Governor General of Canada in the early 20th century. He was born in 1851, before Canada was even Canada, and was educated at the Harrow School, the same school as another legendary English bloke called Winston Churchill. After Harrow, Albert Grey attended Cambridge University, which has another cool Argonauts connection. After graduation, he entered politics and got himself a seat in the British House of Commons, typical of classy English blokes at the time.
Following some time in politics, Albert Grey got the title of Earl Grey (which was already a kind of yummy tea) and became Governor General of Canada. He travelled to Canada all the time and loved the place. He was hugely in favour of national unity and during the same time as he was Governor General Canada started to gain independence from Britain. Grey was all for this. He wanted East united with West, and French united with English. Grey realized that the Montreal Alouettes would one day be an exciting football team for the Argonauts to play against and that the league would be drastically different without Anthony Calvillo, so he worked hard to unite Quebec with the rest of Canada, and made the Plains of Abraham a national historic site. He thought the CFL might benefit from a cross-over rule so teams from the Eastern Conference could get into the playoffs through the West, so he encouraged the continued building of a railway uniting the country. Grey was opposed to the legendarily evil Chinese Head Tax of that era and wanted the whole country to get along and people of every race or ethnic background to play Canadian football. What better way to encourage national unity than through sport? Grey loved Canadian sport and donated trophies to the Montreal horse show and a trophy for Canadian figure skating champions. And of course, his most famous legacy was donating the most coveted prize in Canadian football in 1909.
Earl Albert Grey finished being Governor General of Canada 99 years to the day after another cool Canadian hero named Issac Brock died. (October 13, 1911). Grey died in 1917, but it is probably safe for one to assume that he continued to be a fan of Canadian Football.
Over 100 years later Earl Grey’s legacy still remains strong. Since Earl Grey donated his prize, it has been won 99 times, only being cancelled during wartime. The first winner was the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Although U of T is not known for any sort of recent football legacy, it is time for the Grey Cup to return to the City of Toronto!!