1966 Brantford Bisons Ontario Jr. Champions

1966 Brantford BisonsIn what’s been described as the Golden Age for the Brantford Bisons, a period lasting from 1964 to 1982, the Brantford Bisons twice claimed both the ORFU (Ontario Rugby and Football Union) and OFC (Ontario Football Conference) Junior Provincial Championships. 

This Golden Age had its beginnings in 1962 when, under the initiative of Steve Brown, Bob McBride and Ron Goodbrand, a junior football house league was started in Brantford. The teams played a variation of football known as “Jungle” football in which each team fielded a nine-person side. This variation had to do with budget costs and the various Brantford football teams needing to share equipment.

In 1964, these men entered a team, calling itself the Brantford Bisons, in the ORFU league, a four team league in south-western Ontario. In its third season, under the expert coaching of ex-CFLer Len “Pudge” Chandler, Dave Leyland and Bill Rowe, the team gradually became a force in the regular season, ending up in second place and qualifying for the playoffs. 

In the sudden-death semi-final game, the Bisons defeated the Oakville Colts 34 to 8, meaning they would now play in the 2-game final against the Windsor AKO Fratmen, a team they had never beaten in three years. The Bisons, however, won the first game, played at home, upsetting the Fratmen in a mud bowl by the score 20 to 13. The next weekend they travelled to Windsor for the second game, beating AKO again, this time by the score of 24 to 20. The end result of the two games was a 11 point margin in favour of the Bisons, who were thus declared winner of the ORFU championship and qualifying them to play for the Ontario Championship.

The next weekend they hosted the winners of the Ontario Football Conference, the Weston Invictus Redmen from Toronto, in a sudden-death game for the Ontario Championship. They continued their winning ways be defeating the Redmen 26 to 8. This meant they were off to Quebec the next weekend for a sudden-death game against the Montreal NDG Maple Leafs, vying for the Eastern Canada championship.

It was in Montreal, however, where their winning streak came to an stunning end, losing to the very strong Maple Leafs who would end up playing for the Canadian title against a team from Regina. Still, being one game away from playing for the Leader Post trophy for the Canadian junior amateur championship, was quite an accomplishment for the team.

Of the players who played on the team, eighteen went on to play either senior amateur football or university/college football. One of the latter group then went on to play pro football with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

1966 Brantford Bisons Ontario Jr. Champions Roster

  • Front Row:
    Bill Shooter, Freddy Schmuck, Sam Remnant, Don Maich, Jim Papai, Bob McGeein
  • Second Row:
    Neil Cunningham, Doug Boughner, Bruce Brown, Roger Passmore, Jack Slater, Rick Harsant, Len Chandler
  • Third Row, left to right:
    Bill Rowe, Roger McGowan, Glen Noble, Mike Phillips, Phil Ruch, Ted Evanetz, Peter Smith, Bob Prouse, Dave Leyland
  • Fourth Row:
    Ron Asselstine, Greg Spurrell, Brian Carpenter, Jim Reinhart, Russ Roberts, Walt Eves, Bill Lang, John Ruch
  • Absent:
    Rich Alcock, Dave Coyne, Don Dawson, Carl DeGrandis, Dennis Devereux, Bob Harris, Paul Lymburner, Tony Zabel.