Monday, August 15, 2011


Royal Copeland-Argo Great

Last week, the Toronto Argonauts mourned the loss of one of their former great players, Royal Copeland. Copeland played in 111 regular season games in the Canadian Football League, as well as fourteen playoff games. He won four Grey Cups with the Argos, including three consecutive Cups from 1945 to 1947. Vern “Jumbo” Goyer, a native Bellevillian, was a team-mate on the 1945 squad. Goyer is an inductee to the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame.

Copeland was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1988, and was named an “All Time Argo” in 1997. He is the only player to score a touchdown in three straight Grey Cup games. Copeland is tied with Red Storey for the most career touchdowns in Grey Cup games.

Copeland was often paired with Joe Krol, a fellow backfielder with the Argos. They both had blond hair, and were known for scoring electrifying touchdowns for the Argos. They were dubbed the “Gold Dust Twins”.

Team president Bob Nicholson paid homage to Copeland last week: “Few players have achieved the prominence that Royal Copeland did as an Argonaut. His mastery of the game transcends his era and he was one of the first true star athletes in the city of Toronto. His contributions and his memory will forever live in Toronto Argonauts history.”

At that time, champions were referred to as “Inter-Provincial and Dominion Champions”, as well as Grey Cup Champs. As his career wound down, Copeland was joined on the Argos by other greats---Ulysses Curtis, a halfback from Albion, Michigan, and by Norbert “Nobby” Wirkowski, a quarterback from Chicago. Alas, those were the days of great football monikers!

The Parkhurst Company printed a set of football cards in 1952. Included in that set was card # 32, Lorne Parkin of the Argos. “Parky” is described as an excellent downfield tackler. But he was also busy on his non-playing days as a member of the Toronto Police Force!

One of Copeland’s teammates at that time was Arnie Stacks. “In his day, he and Joe Krol were tops. Copeland was as fast a player as there was at that time, and he was just as dangerous running both inside and on outside”, he told the Post Media News. “He was one of those guys you couldn’t help but like. He was a big star back then and everyone looked up to him, but he remained humble and never really looked at himself as famous.”

Copeland also played two seasons with the Calgary Stampeders.

In 1949, he was awarded the Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy, presented to the Eastern Conference player possessing the highest qualities of courage, fair pplay, and sportsmanship.

Last weekend, the Argos dropped another game in CFL play to the Hamilton Tiger Cats. They have one victory and six defeats at this time, tied with the British Columbia Lions. They have played well, on occasion, and have lost several games in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. With a little luck, they will turn things around. With the Ticats, Blue Bombers and Alouettes having fine seasons, it will not be easy for the Double Blue.

South of the border, they have kissed and made up, and are preparing for another NFL season. Are you ready for some football? Pass me the peanuts, and the remote!

James Hurst
August 15, 2011.

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