April 7, 2017

Stu took Cup for stroll of honour

Stu Laird with the Stampeders in 1986 (Photo by Scott Grant)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Stampeders’ 1992 Grey Cup championship squad.

In the coming months, we’ll be taking a look back at the squad that snapped the Stamps’ 21-year title drought and the cast of characters responsible for the conquest.

This time, we reminisce with standout defensive lineman Stu Laird.

Stu Laird
Defensive lineman
In 1992:
31 years old, 8th season with Stamps
Regular season:
Played 10 games and was tied for second on the team with six sacks. Also had 21 tackles and one fumble recovery
Played in both the West final and the Grey Cup and had five tackles

Stu Laird with the Stampeders in 1996 (Photo by John Bradley)

The 1992 Grey Cup contest at the building then known as the Skydome had been over for a while and the locker room of the victorious Calgary Stampeders was nearly deserted, with the echoes of all the post-game whoops and hollers having faded away.

Only a few players remained, and they had some shiny company.

“Greg Peterson and I,” recalls Stu Laird, “we were the last ones in the locker room and the Grey Cup was still sitting there. I assume that everybody just thought, ‘Well somebody’s going to get it.’

“So Greg and myself – I believe Kenny Moore was with us – we picked up the Grey Cup and walked from Skydome back to our hotel. People were driving by and asking, ‘Is that the Grey Cup?’ They couldn’t believe it. Then we finally walked into our reception at the hotel and there was all the cheering. That was a unique and moment.”

Laird, a defensive lineman who would play a dozen seasons for the Red and White, and Peterson held on to the prized trophy after the party.

“Greg and I were roommates on the road and we wound up with the Grey Cup in our room that night,” says Laird. “I think it was because we had been there for so long and been through those (difficult) times. Both being Calgary boys who had played high school against each other (Laird for Lord Beaverbrook and Peterson for E.P. Scarlett) . . . so that was another one of those special memories.”

The Saskatchewan-born, Calgary-raised Laird made his Stamps debut in 1985 and lived through the franchise’s struggle for survival. So the 1992 championship had special poignancy, not just for himself but for his fellow Calgarians.

“We wanted to get a championship ring and the fans in Calgary had been without that championship for so long,” he explains. “We had so many great diehard fans who had supported us. I was there during that SOS (Save Our Stamps) campaign and this was a great opportunity for us to give back to the fans as well.

“It felt good to finally be able to deliver that to our great fans. There were a lot of fans who had stood by us no matter what. The fans rallied around the team in the mid-80s when we were on the verge of bankruptcy. To finally win that championship was special.”

Laird knows the wait for a title was one year longer than everyone in Calgary would have liked.

“My story about 1992,” he says, “actually starts the year before and how thrilling and exciting it was to finally beat the Eskimos in the Western Final but then how disappointing it was to lose in the Grey Cup game – a game that, defensively, we played so well.

“So the whole ’92 season, for many of us, was about getting back to that Grey Cup game and winning the game.”

The 1992 championship would prove to be the only title in Laird’s career, despite the Stamps fielding some very good teams right through until his final season in 1996.

“It just goes to show how hard it is to win a championship,” says Laird, whose No. 75 is retired by the Stampeders. “I wear that Grey Cup ring just about every day.

“You get some money for winning the Grey Cup,” he adds with a laugh, “but I couldn’t tell you where that went. But I still have that ring. I remember the great teammates, I remember the fan receptions we had after the game. Some great memories.”

Laird remained in his hometown after his playing career and is now a veteran of the Calgary Fire Department, rising to the rank of battalion chief.