September 9, 2023

Top 5 Labour Day Classic Rematches

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray throws against the Calgary Stampeders during second half CFL action in Edmonton, Alberta, on Friday, September 10, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Ulan

Tonight (Sept. 9), the Edmonton Elks will host the Calgary Stampeders in one of the most anticipated games annually, the rematch of the Labour Day Classic.

Over the prior 33 editions of the rematch, there have been many memorable contests. Here’s the Top 5:


5. 2015: Road to a Championship

One streak ended and another began for Edmonton when they defeated the Stamps during in a soggy Labour Day Classic rematch on Sept. 12, 2015.

With a 27-16 win, coach Chris Jones and the Green and Gold snapped a skid of 12 consecutive loses to the Stamps, while starting a win streak- of their own that would last all the way through the Grey Cup, 10 games later.

Playing for the first time in two and a half months since being sidelined by injury in Week 1, star quarterback Mike Reilly passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair of TD tosses to Adarius Bowman.

The victory improved Edmonton’s record to 7-4. The Green and Gold would go on to win their remaining seven regular season games to finish with a record of 14-4, before beating Calgary 45-31 in the West Final and finally capturing the Grey Cup with a 26-20 triumph over the Ottawa Redblacks.


4. 1989: The Tradition Begins

While the tradition of the Green and Gold and Stampeders squaring off on Labour Day dates back well over half a century, it wasn’t until 1989 that the custom of the teams playing again in Edmonton four (now five) days later became an annual affair, as well.

Edmonton set the tone in the very first LDC rematch on Sept. 8, 1989, rallying from a 21-17 deficit after three quarters to defeat Calgary 38-27 before 41,327 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.

Green and Gold fullback Blake Marshall led the way by running for three touchdowns, tying for the second (now third) most rushing TDs in a game in club history.


3. 1997: Classic Comeback

On a night when Edmonton’s usually potent offence was spinning its wheels, an All-Star defensive back stepped up to lead the Green and Gold to victory at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 5, 1997.

Edmonton trailed the Stamps 20-11 with less than 10 minutes remaining, before Sean Fleming kicked a field goal to cut Calgary’s lead to six. Then Kavis Reed picked off Stampeders quarterback Jeff Garcia for his second interception of the night, and sprinted down the sidelines untouched 59 yards to the endzone, tying the score 20-20 at 8:03 of the fourth quarter, before Fleming converted the extra point to put Edmonton ahead 21-20.

Fleming added another field goal on the last play of the game to make the final score 24-20 in favour of the Green and Gold, sending the 43,913 fans home happy.


2. 2003: Sweet Revenge

Arguably the most (in)famous Labour Day Classic took place in 2003, when Edmonton lost 28-22 after leading by three points early in the fourth quarter in a game marred by a third-quarter melee that resulted in fines and suspension.

So imagine how fired up the Green and Gold were four days later when they came out before a packed house of 62,444 fans  Commonwealth Stadium and proceeded to take it out on the Stamps, who never knew what hit them.

In front of what was then the biggest crowd for a regular season game in CFL history (a record since broken by the Green and Gold on Sept. 26, 2009), Edmonton clobbered Calgary 38-0, which both stands as the biggest margin of victory and the only time a team has been shutout in the LDC rematch.

Edmonton’s Mike Pringle ran for two touchdowns, while Scott Robinson and Troy Mills each hauled in a touchdown pass from Ricky Ray, and receiver Jason Tucker added a rare rushing touchdown for the Green and Gold.


1. 1996: It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Never mind the LDC rematch. It’s one of the most famous game endings in Green and Gold history, period.

Despite starting quarterback Danny McManus being sidelined during the game, Edmonton had led for most of the game until Calgary took its first lead at 16-13 on a Mark McLoughlin field goal 3:31 into the fourth quarter. Another field goal by McLoughlin extended Calgary’s lead to 19-13 with just 45 seconds left, leaving backup rookie quarterback Cody Ledbetter less than a minute to drive 75 yards.

Ledbetter took the Green and Gold to the Stampeders 27-yard line, where he was unable to complete a pass on first and second down. Then on third and ten with six seconds remaining, he rolled out and threw a strike to Darren Flutie for the first touchdown pass of his career, tying the score 19-19 and sending Commonwealth Stadium into a frenzy. Sean Fleming added the extra point with 00:00 showing on the clock, giving Edmonton an incredible 20-19 last-minute comeback win.


FAMILY DAY/LABOUR DAY REMATCH

It’s the hottest game of the season when the Green and Gold take on the provincial rival Calgary Stampeders in the annual Labour Day rematch on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. Be there for Family Day presented by Save-On-Foods at Commonwealth Stadium.Being part of the action has never been more affordable, with tickets starting at just $15. Click here to get your tickets now and be part of the tradition.

Elks Football…Our Team. Our City.