By Nolan Kowal, Sport Performance Specialist
We’ve got a jacket on display in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame that represents the Winnipeg Rods football team from 1956.
In the 50’s the Rods were considered a dynasty team, reaching the Canadian championship finals four years in a row from ’54-’57 and winning it in ’55 and ’56. The ’55 team was the first team from Winnipeg to win the Dominion junior football title, which intensified the pressure on the ’56 team to repeat and continue the legacy.
The Rods came out of the gates slow in 1956, finishing tied for second in their division. But don’t worry, this story gets better.
The team improved as the season went on and beat the Saskatoon Hilltops in the semifinals, setting up a showdown with the Regina Rams for the right to represent Manitoba/Saskatchewan in the West Finals.
They then went on to win the Sifton Trophy as the Manitoba and Saskatchewan champions, setting up a finals showdown against the Edmonton Huskies in the Canadian Western Finals.
The Rods neutralized Edmonton’s hulking fullback, Mike Lashuk, on their way to a 19-13 win and the right to represent the west in the Canadian final held in Toronto.
In the finals, they faced a team called the Toronto Parkdale Lions. These lions were no pushover however as they went on to win the east final 65-0 over Montreal. The Rods defense reigned supreme though, shutting down the lions and holding them to only 10 points. When the final whistle blew, the Rods had retained the Leader-Post Trophy as the Canadian Junior football champions, winning by a score of 21-10.
What a team!