Norm Fieldgate - Linebacker - B.C. Lions - 1954-67
CFL Illustrated - Grey Cup Program - 1994
Norm Fieldgate was an original Lion in 1954.
He hung around for B.C.'s first playoff birth in 1959. He was till with the team for it's first Grey Cup appearance in 1963. The Lions lost that game 21-10 to the Hamilton Tiger Cats, but a year later, avenged that loss with a 34-24 decision over Hamilton. Fieldgate was a part of B.C. first Grey Cup winner, too.
It has been 27 years since Fieldgate retired in 1967, but he's still part of a team as Vancouver hosts its 12th Grey Cup in 1994. Fieldgate isn't playing offensive or defensive end or defensive back, positions he occupied during his 14-year career, which included one CFl and three Western Division All-Star Team nominations. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
"The most excitement I have now is walking the dog at eight in the morning," says Fieldgate, who sold hi automotive parts business three years ago and retired after a quarter of a century in that line of work. He remains in Vancouver with his wife Doreen whicle daughters Carey, Leslie and Janine and granddaughters Janey and Emma live nearby.
While Fieldgate may not be blocking or tackling, he is still a part of the Vancouver football scene. He served on the Grey Cup organizing committee with another Lion original, By Bailey, who scored the Lions' first touchdown and was also a member of the 1964 Grey Cup team. A fullback and defensive back, Bailey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975.
Fieldgate remembers the Lions struggling through the typical growing pains of an expansion franchise before finally making it to the big game in 1963. Hamilton led 14-3 at halftime and Fieldgate believes the Lions played well enough to win on their home turf at Empire Stadium.
"We'd like to have won it in '63, but it certainly was nice to go back and play a second time," says Fieldgate. This time, the Lions made no mistake at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium.
The year before, the Lions had to play without fleet-footed running back Willie Fleming, who was forced out of the game after an alleged late hit by Hamilton badman Angelo Mosca. In 1964, it was 1000-yard fullback Bob Swift who was forced out of action with a knee injury in th second quarter after scoring a touchdown earlier in the game.
Swift was replaced by Bill Munsey, normally a defensive player, who scored two quick touchdowns for the Lions to put the game out of reach. "He certainly made the game. He had a great day against Hamilton," says Fieldgate.
"In the early days there was no such thing as a Grey Cup ring. in 1964, we got a miniature replica of the Grey Cup. There were no great financial rewards. You weren't shooting for the Grey Cup for financial reasons. You were there to fave fun and win."
Those replica Grey Cups might have been all the Lions had to show for their efforts. As they prepared for the flight back to Vancouver from Toronto, it was realized that the Grey Cup was still back at the hotel. It was quickly retrieved.
While the Grey Cup was temporarily forgotten, memories of that first championship remain strong for Fieldgate and his teammates.