By Ben Cousins
One of team’s original founders still has aspirations of getting program into AUS
The Dalhousie University Football Club is hoping their 70th anniversary marks one of their best years on the field.
The Tigers are celebrating their home opener this Saturday on Wickwire field against UNB Fredericton. “It’s great to be a part of that history,” said Mark Haggett, Dalhousie’s first-year head coach.
Dalhousie plays in the Atlantic Football League, a league of five school teams, although only Dalhousie and the University of New Brunswick Fredericton have 100 per cent student players.
Dalhousie football began in 1947 where they played in the Halifax Canadian Football League, a league of mostly military teams. Many of the players were teenagers or young men playing against sometimes much older members of the armed forces.
“Most of these guys were lawyers and doctors,” said Rick Rivers, one of the founders the current team and a player of the original Tigers’ team. “They were going to medical school and playing football.”
Rivers wrote a book on the history of Dalhousie football called Undefeated since ’76. By 1951, they had won their first Purdy Cup as league champions. The team would win another championship in 1954.
The team went on hiatus in 1976 because the team had struggled on the field for years in the eyes of the school administration.
In 1975, the team won just two games, but lost four games by eight points or less.
Thirty-four years later, a group of team alumni and volunteers got Dalhousie football back up and running. In the seven years since the team’s resurrection, they’ve lost in the final twice.
This year’s team has shown signs of promise. Dalhousie played their first game last weekend, a 39-0 win over the team from Saint John.
“Offensively and defensively, they were firing on all cylinders,” said Rivers.
The team has 30 returning players from last season and about 15 freshmen. More than half of the team is from Nova Scotia.
“It’s a really good mix of guys that have some experience and some guys with fresh legs,” said Haggett.
Rivers said that he still has aspirations to get the program into the AUS, but said it would cost a few million dollars to get a team back into the fold.