Accomplishments: Dominion (Canadian) Junior Rugby Football Champions 1928.
For the young athletes and staff of the Regina Pats Junior Football club, the 1928 season proved to be quite a challenge, both on and off the field. To Al Ritchie, mentor and coach of the team, the season presented thirty or more young, capable men, thoroughly competent and talented when it came to football but also somewhat lax when it came to practicing. In spite of the general consensus that they had what it takes to become the best team in the land, the boys took some time before settling down to serious football, with fourteen of thirty turning out to one practice, and only four showing up at another.
Problems occurred throughout the early months; some of the players were injured and the team lost one of its star performers to a school in the east. Ritchie however, was stubborn and it was his determination that molded and bullied the players into a strong unit. On October 29, 1928 they defeated a powerful Saskatoon Hilltops team to take the Saskatchewan Junior Football Championship.
In terms of size, by today’s standards, the team was small ranging from 135-185 pounds. It is important to remember that these athletes were playing in the days of the legal lateral pass when several light, fast players could weave and sprint downfield exchanging the ball among them as the play progressed.
The Pats played the Winnipeg Argonauts, the Manitoba Champions in the Western Canadian Junior Final. They won handily with a score of 28-0 and that was when the problems arose. The Canadian Rugby Union wouldn’t sanction a Dominion Junior final, so the team had no money to finance a trip to Eastern Canada. Later, Coach Al Ritchie left the Pats to cover as Saskatchewan Roughriders coach Howie Milne – who was unable to accompany the Roughriders east to their Canadian Championship.
In true Saskatchewan Football fan fashion, the citizens and local merchants of Regina began a campaign to raise the needed funds and were successful. The C.R.U. was convinced that a Canadian Junior Football Championship should be held and the Regina Pats found themselves on their way to Toronto. More trouble plagued the team during the pre-game period. Five players became ill and the team found the Ontario climate difficult to adjust to and the star player they were counting on wasn’t performing well in practice. Ritchie rejoined the team and once more took control. On Saturday, December 8th, 1928 the Pats were able to put it all together and defeated a heroic St. Thomas Tigers team 9-6. Illness and injury had been forgotten and all members of the team had played to the fullest extent of their ability.
Several days later, Regina turned out to welcome home Coach Ritchie and the Regina Pats – the 1928 Canadian Junior Football Champions.
Left to Right: A. Ritchie (coach), E. James, J. Doctor, A. Currie, H. Athey, J. Auld, G. Brown, J. Achtzener, B. Traynor, G. Arnot, F. Brown, P. Williams, D. Douglas, M. Busch, J. Carswell, F. Renwick, S. Foster, S. Bloomfield, A. Sihvon, A. Mitchell, C. Foster (manager), J. Sinclair.
Missing: J. Hayes, C. Shaw, M. March.