Sarnia Imperials

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Sarnia Imperials
Founded1928;93 years ago (1928)
Folded1955;66 years ago (1955)
Based in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Home fieldAthletic Park
League Ontario Rugby Football Union
DivisionORFU Group 1 (1928)
ORFU Western (1929-1931)
ColoursRed, Blue, Gold, and White [1]     
Nickname(s)Imps
League titles1934 & 1936

The Sarnia Imperials were a football team from Sarnia, Ontario and a member of the Ontario Rugby Football Union, a league that preceded the Canadian Football League and contested for the Grey Cup until 1955. In their history, the Imperials appeared in three Grey Cup championship games, winning twice in 1934 and in 1936.

Contents

History

Pre-war

The Imperials first began playing in the ORFU in 1928, enjoying immediate success as they finished first in their division that year, only to lose the ORFU Final to the Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers. The team would go on to enjoy great success for the next 12 years, missing the post-season only once and winning the ORFU Final 10 of those 12 years. Sarnia played in their first Grey Cup championship game in 1933, which was also the only time the city hosted the Grey Cup game. However, the Imperials lost a low-scoring affair, falling 4-3 to the Toronto Argonauts in the lowest scoring Grey Cup game to date. [2]

The team reversed their fortunes the next year, as they returned to the Dominion championship and came out victorious, defeating the Regina Roughriders 20-12 in the 22nd Grey Cup game. [3] After losing to the Hamilton Tigers in the Eastern Final in 1935, the Imperials would return to the Grey Cup game in 1936. The team would secure their second Grey Cup win after their victory over the Ottawa Rough Riders in the 24th Grey Cup game. [4] To date, they are the last amateur team to win the Grey Cup in peacetime.

While they would not return to the Grey Cup game, one of their more memorable victories came in 1937, when they crushed Montreal 63-0 in a Grey Cup quarter-final. This came at a time when touchdowns were worth only five points. The Imperials ceased play in the ORFU after the 1939 season due to World War II. [5]

Post-war

After the Second World War, the Imperials were not as dominant as they had been before, but recovered by 1949, finishing with a winning record every year from that year until the end of their existence. In their last ten years of existence, they won two ORFU titles, in 1951 and 1952; they finished second several times in that span.

By this time, however, the ORFU was reckoned as a minor league. In the years after World War II, it became increasingly difficult for the ORFU to compete against the IRFU and the WIFU, both of which were now fully professional. After the 1953 season, the ORFU dropped out of contention for the Grey Cup, beginning the modern era of professional Canadian football.

Overall, the Imperials won their first ORFU title in 1929, then reeled off nine straight Ontario championships from 1931 to 1939. They also won the ORFU crown in 1951 and 1952, giving them a total of 12 championships, in addition to their two Grey Cups.

The team played its home matches at Sarnia's Athletic Park, now known as Norm Perry Park after the former star football player and Sarnia mayor.

The team ceased operations in 1955. ORFU football in Sarnia would return under the name of the Sarnia Golden Bears later in the decade. The Golden Bears won the 1958 and 1959 ORFU championships.

Canadian Football Hall of Famers

Imperials who were elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame based solely on their play in Sarnia included Norm Perry, Orm Beach and Hugh 'Bummer' Stirling. Stirling was also named Canadian Male Athlete of the Year in 1938.

ORFU season-by-season

SeasonWLTPFPAPtsFinishPlayoffs
1928 220352841st, ORFU Group 1Lost ORFU Final
1929 6008519121st, ORFU WesternLost East Semi-Final
1930 420762582nd, ORFU WesternMissed Playoffs
1931 211362451st, ORFU WesternLost East Semi-Final
1932 51012537101st, ORFULost East Semi-Final
1933 5109525101st, ORFULost 21st Grey Cup
1934 60013728121st, ORFUWon 22nd Grey Cup
1935 40069981st, ORFULost Eastern Final
1936 3101022761st, ORFUWon 24th Grey Cup
1937 301811971st, ORFULost Eastern Finals
1938 312952781st, ORFULost Eastern Finals
1939 312703882nd, ORFULost Eastern Finals
1940-45Did not play due to World War II.
1946 4608815884th, ORFULost ORFU Semi-Finals
1947 01006616606th, ORFUMissed Playoffs
1948 3517213083rd, ORFUMissed Playoffs
1949 840142101162nd, ORFULost ORFU Finals
1950 440164102102nd, ORFULost ORFU Finals
1951 91026860181st, ORFULost Eastern Finals
1952 111031268221st, ORFULost Grey Cup Semi-Final
1953 840231101162nd, ORFULost ORFU Semi-Finals
1954 741218193152nd, ORFULost ORFU Finals
1955 651140182132nd, ORFULost ORFU Finals

New incarnation

In 2006, the team was resurrected under the same name to play in the Northern Football Conference, Canada's top league for adult amateur play. [6]

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References

  1. "HISTORY >> Grey Cup >> 1933 | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League". CFL.ca. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  2. "HISTORY >> Grey Cup >> 1934 | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League". CFL.ca. Archived from the original on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  3. "HISTORY >> Grey Cup >> 1936 | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League". CFL.ca. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  4. "1992 - Present | Northern Football Conference". Nfcfootball.ca. Retrieved 2013-10-27.