The Long & Short Of It: Each CFL Team's Wait For A Grey Cup Title

By Chris Lawton

Interested in learning more about the history of the Canadian Football League? Fear not! Chris Lawton brings you a break down of the past success of each of the nine teams currently in the CFL – and how long they’ve waited to hoist the famous Grey Cup:

Toronto Argonauts: Most Grey Cup Wins

Embed from Getty Images

18 Grey Cup Wins. 24 Grey Cup Appearances. Last Win: 2022

The Double Blue are the defending Champions. Having won a classic contest over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2022.

Before last year the last time the Argos had won the Cup was in 2017. Which at first glance suggests some consistency. However, they won in 2017 off the back of a 9-9 season and followed that by going 4-14 in back-to-back seasons in 2018 & 2019.

The answer was to bring in Argonauts legend Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons as GM. Announced in 2019 you can see he is doing a great job as they re-upped his contract recently. He appointed Ryan Dinwiddie as Head Coach and Toronto will be the third straight for them to be in the East Final. Fans of the Scullers will want to see them be the first Argonauts team to win back-to-back titles since the legendary Doug Flutie led Argos of 1996-7. Time will tell.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Making History

12 Grey Cup Wins. 27 Grey Cup Appearances. Last Win: 2021

The Blue Bombers and their fans are enjoying a period of sustained success after a long title drought. They won 3 Grey Cups in seven years (1984, 1988 & 1990). Only for that to be followed by the longest title wait in team history before they finally broke the curse by winning the 2019 Grey Cup game.

From 2019 to 2022 they won three straight West Division titles off the back of a 37-13 regular season record and have made three straight Grey Cup appearances. Winning back-to-back in 2019 and 2021, (with a gap for a season lost to the pandemic), before losing last year to the Argonauts.

They got the monkey of their back in a big way. That run from 1984 to 2019 ended one of the longest championship droughts in CFL history. Now Blue Bombers fans are enjoying watching their team be one of the best teams in the league.

Calgary Stampeders: A History of Recent Prominence

8 Grey Cup Wins. 17 Grey Cup Appearances. Last Win: 2018

Until this year, the Stamps had not had a losing season since 2007. Since 2008 they have been to six title games and won three of them.

The Stampeders can legitimately claim to have been the CFL team of the decade in the 2010’s. Calgary appeared in the playoffs every year of the decade. They contested the Grey Cup on five occasions, winning it twice in 2014 and 2018.

Across the decade they amassed an astonishing 132-46-2 record. They appeared in the playoffs ten times and went 10-7 in playoff games. Although they may be better remembered for back-to-back defeats in remarkable upsets in 2016 and 2017 Grey Cup games that were instant classics.

Having appeared in 11 West Final games up to their win in 2018, the Stamps have since not gone past the Semi Final game.

This year they could have set a new league record for most consecutive seasons above .500 but it was not to be.

Ottawa RedBlacks: A Sharp Decline Since Winning

Embed from Getty Images

1 Grey Cup Win. 3 Grey Cup Appearances. Last Win: 2016

It was all going so well. Football was back in Ottawa in 2014 for the first time since the Ottawa Renegades played their last game in 2005.

You could also argue that the city of Ottawa has made 10 Grey Cup wins, and 17 appearances if you tie in the records of the Ottawa Rough Riders. Which the league does, counting each Ottawa team as part of an overall arc.

But for ease we are looking at the newly minted team that first came to play in the Grey Cup in 2016. And they were doing great.

from 2015-2018 they went 39-31-2 in the regular season and 3-1 in the playoffs. This includes 3 East Division titles, 3 Grey Cup appearances and 1 championship win.

REDBLACKS fans could excuse a 2-16 expansion year. Football was back, and Ottawa was possibly more competitive than the final record suggests. Yet in 2019 they went 3-15, worst in the CFL, and missed the playoffs. This was one year removed from an 11-7 season and Grey Cup appearance too.

They would follow that with 3-11 and 4-14 seasons, while this year they can win a maximum of 5 games or have another 4-14 season. It’s a tough time for fans in Ottawa. They will want to see more fight from their team soon.

Edmonton Elks: A Lot Has Changed Since Then

14 Grey Cup Wins. 23 Grey Cup Appearances. Last Win: 2015

The first Grey Cup game we saw in the UK on BT Sport was a great advert. The 103rd Grey Cup was a see-saw battle between Edmonton and the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

Back then, they were the Edmonton Eskimos. After a brief stint as the Edmonton Football team, they became the Elks in 2021.

Edmonton have had far from the longest wait of any fanbase to see their team lift the Grey Cup once more. But it is and adjustment as they have previously had such sustained success.

Formed in 1949 by 1952 they were vying for the championship. And by 1954 they were winning their first Grey Cup. In fact they would win three in a row (1954-6) here before making an incredible 34 consecutive playoff appearances between 1972 and 2005.

Between 1972 and 1983 the then Esks would appear in nine out of ten possible title games. And win six. Including an unprecedented five in a row. 

Now they will miss out on a playoff slot for the third season in a row and Edmonton fans will want to see that change a soon as possible.

Saskatchewan Roughriders: A Barren Last Few Years

Embed from Getty Images

4 Grey Cup Wins. 19 Grey Cup Appearances. Last Win: 2013

The Roughriders’ loyal fanbase has only had the privilege of seeing them lift the Cup on 4 occasions. And they haven’t seen that happen for a decade now. With their latest win coming in 2013.

Since then they have been to an East Final as a crossover team and two West Finals, but never made the jump back to a Grey Cup title game.

They may only have won 4 times in nineteen Grey Cup appearances, but you know Saskatchewan fans are desperate for them to make a 20th appearance and add to that winning tally along the way.

BC Lions: A Dozen Years & Counting

6 Grey Cup Wins. 10 Grey Cup appearances. Last Win: 2011

The BC Lions last won the Grey Cup in 2011. The run from 2011-2012 proved to be the high point of the 2010’s for the Lions. Over those two seasons they went 24-12 and picked up a Grey Cup.

Since then, they have made 7 playoff appearances before this year and failed to make it past a West Final.

From 1997 to 2016 they were a fixture in the playoffs qualifying each season over a 20-year span — the second longest streak in the history of the league. Making their second straight playoff appearance this year, fans of the Leos will hope for a similar run.

With the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Grey Cup win in 2019 after a 29-year wait, the Lions currently have the longest Grey Cup drought of the West Division teams.

Montreal Alouettes: Once Dominant, Now Dormant

7 Grey Cup Wins. 18 Grey Cup Appearances. Last Win: 2010

The Larks last picked up a win in 2010 as part of back-to-back title wins over Saskatchewan.

When the Alouettes returned to the CFL in 1996, built out of the embers of a hugely successful Baltimore Stallions team, they were dominant.

They appeared in the playoffs every year from 1996 to 2014 whilst compiling a 214-127-1 record and appearing in the Grey Cup 8 times (winning on 3 occasions). That win saw the Als become the first repeat champions since the 1996/97 Toronto Argonauts.

Although Montreal made the playoffs the next few season (2011-2014), they didn’t make it back to the Grey Cup.

They are back in the playoff hunt again and will look to take a step further than the East Final they reached in 2022.

Hamilton Tiger Cats: The Longest Wait

8 Grey Cup Wins. Grey Cup Appearances: 22. Last Win: 1999

For Hamilton it has been the longest wait of all. They have made a habit of making their fans wait for the moment they get to see them lift the Cup.

Oh so different to how it once was. Between 1957 and 1967 they went 102-49-3, appeared in the Grey Cup nine times and won on four occasions. After that however they won in 1972, and made fans wait until 1986 for another win. That was followed by a 13 year wait to their win in 1999.

Meaning that right now, Hamilton fans are suffering the longest. They are the only team not to have lifted the Grey Cup this century.

All the more agonising for Hamilton fans is the fact that they have been in the Grey Cup four times in that period. Most recently in 2001 when they lost in overtime to Winnipeg in their home stadium.



Chris originally started following the NFL with the ‘first wave’ of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980’s. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL 2017. Chris has a degree in history, postgraduate degree in librarianship and can be found on twitter as @CFLfanUK