By Shannon Baldwin
This year marks the 50th anniversary since Ryerson’s championshipwinning football team made its last campus appearence.
The first-ever football season at Ryerson was in 1957 and that team was coached by former Toronto Argonauts and Grey Cup champion running back Ted Toogood.
Toogood was recruited in 1949 right out of teachers college – he was still playing for the Argonauts at the time – by Ryerson principal Howard Kerr. He was named Ryerson Institute of Technology’s athletic director.
Toogood’s name and status enhanced both the credibility of Ryerson’s athletic program and the institute’s profile as a whole. His 11-year career at Ryerson helped turn the Rams into a championship winning team.
The Rams won the Intermediate Intercollegiate Ontario-Quebec Conference championship in 1958.
The team was inducted into Ryerson’s athletics and recreation hall of fame in the team category in 2011 and Toogood was inducted in 2005 for his integral part in the formation of intramural sports and clubs at Ryerson.
On the rainy November afternoon when Ryerson defeated the University of Toronto Baby Blues at Varsity Stadium in 1958, more than 1,000 students rushed the field. At that time, Ryerson only had 1,400 students.
It’s suffice to say that football was once the most supported sports on campus. But now the team’s history lies forgotten by most, buried away in the Ryerson archives.
“[Students and faculty] don’t know of the past as it is at Ryerson…
that there was a football team or how good we’ve done in other sports,” archival analyst Catherine McMaster said. “It’s good to know your past [and] where you come from in terms of this school.” The Ryerson archives and the history of the football team are open to the public.
But photographs, newspaper clippings and a 1951 football jacket (donated by alumnus Phil Coulter) are all that’s left of Ryerson’s team, which was terminated in October 1964.
Even Kerr can be seen in archived photographs attending the games, along with a band and a real-life, four-legged Eggy.
But only the first two of the five Eggys lived to see football at Ryerson.
The pigskin was axed at the end of the 1964 season due to high operation costs, lack of proper facilities and poor attendance.
So while Mayor Rob Ford may want to bring football to Ryerson, director of athletics Ivan Joseph said there aren’t enough resources to bring back the champion team.
“I never say never,” Joseph said
“If some very, very good benefactor wants to come in and [say], ‘I’m willing to fund a football team, but I’ve also bought a piece of land right next to your university and I’m building a field for you to use
– not just for football but for all of your students to do intramurals’
– then I’ll say, ‘OK, we’re having football tomorrow.'”