History | Montreal Alouettes



The Alouettes are founded by a trio of Montreal businessmen.


The Alouettes take their first Grey Cup, a 28-15 win over the Calgary Stampeders at Toronto's Varsity Stadium.

1954 - 1956

Led by the legendary duo of quarterback Sam "The Rifle" Etcheverry and wide receiver "Prince" Hal Patterson, Montreal makes three consecutive Grey Cup appearances, but falls each time to the Edmonton Eskimos.


In one of the darker days in franchise history, owner Ted Workman goes against the wishes of general manager Perry Moss and trades Etcheverry and Patterson to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Etcheverry wound up leaving the CFL for the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals while Patterson continued to star in Steeltown, winning a handful of championships. The move is devastating to the Als, who go on to one of the worst decades in team history.


With stable ownership in the form of Hall-of-Fame builder Sam Berger and the return of Etcheverry as a rookie head coach, the Alouettes win their second Grey Cup, this time a 23-10 romp over the Stamps in Toronto.


Montreal wins its second CFL title of the decade with Sonny Wade under centre and legends like Johnny "The Ordinary Superstar" Rodgers, Junior Ah You, Wally Buono, Larry Smith and Peter Dalla Riva making the Als the talk of the town. With Marv Levy as head coach, the team won their third title in franchise history in a 20-7 dismantling of the Eskimos.


Already the dominating team of the 70s, the Als win their third championship of the decade and fourth overall in perhaps the most legendary game in team history. Playing on a frozen field at the roofless Olympic Stadium, Alouette defensive back Tony Proudfoot came up with the idea of putting staples into the soles of his and several of his teammates' shoes. The result was a 41-6 destruction of the Eskimos in front of 68,318 fans at Montreal's Olympic Stadium - still the biggest crowd in Grey Cup history.

1981 - 1987

Following the team's history of ups and downs, the franchise crumbled under the ownership of Nelson Skalbania and became bankrupt by the end of the 1981 season before being rescued by Montreal businessman Charles Bronfman. After saving the Als from insolvency, Bronfman renamed the team the Concordes. Despite his best efforts and intentions as an owner, the team struggled both at the gate and in the standings in its four seasons as the Concordes. In 1986, the team was re-christened the Alouettes, but folded on the eve of the 1987 season.

1994 - 1995

The CFL's experiment with US-based franchises yielded one major success story: the Baltimore Stallions. Playing with an all-American roster, the Stallions were dominant as they finished the 1994 season with a Grey Cup loss to the BC Lions. The Stallions then won the Cup in 1995, becoming the first non-Canadian team to win a CFL championship. Not everything went according to plan, however, as the Stallions were forced out of Baltimore due to the re-appearance of the NFL in that city in the form of the Cleveland Browns moving there to become the Ravens.


Baltimore's loss became Montreal's gain in 1996 as the CFL transferred the franchise to La Belle Province to be born once again as the Alouettes. Despite bringing along GM Jim Popp, however, the team had to start from scratch as the players were released from their Baltimore contracts. Popp immediately set out on building a winner, signing quarterback Tracy Ham and eventually adding running back Mike Pringle - the players who would become the cornerstones of the Als for years to come.

Montreal didn't exactly burst out of the gate, starting 0-3 in front of sparse crowds at the Big O, but eventually finished the season second in the East Division with a more-than-respectable 12-6-0 record under the leadership of coach Bob Price.

1997 - 1998

A handful of major changes kicked in for the '97 campaign with Bob Wetenhall buying the team from owner Jim Speros and Larry Smith taking over as president and CEO following his resignation as commissioner of the CFL. Dave Ritchie took over from Price as head coach and Popp filled in some key holes en route to the Als finishing once again in second place with a 13-5-0 record.

The Als once again finished second in the East with a 12-5-1 record under Ritchie in 1998, but three major pieces fell into place that year to secure the future of the team: The Als drafted receiver Ben Cahoon, signed free agent quarterback Anthony Calvillo, and centre Bryan Chiu began playing as a regular after being drafted by the Als the previous season. Even more impressive was Pringle, who became the first player in league history to rush for over 2,000 yards within a season.

Most importantly, the Alouettes moved permanently to the cozy confines of downtown Percival Molson Stadium after playing their 1997 playoff game there. After two seasons of sparse crowds at the Big O, the Als were on the verge of disappearing once again before being forced to move their post-season game because the Irish rock band U2 had already booked Olympic Stadium. Fans immediately fell in love with the stadium on McGill's campus and the Als pounced on their fervor and made the move for good.

1999 - 2000

With Charlie Taaffe stepping in for Ritchie as head coach, the Als became the class of the East, finishing first in their division for the first time since 1979. Ham and Calvillo alternated in the starting role in '99, while Pringle established himself as one of the best running backs in CFL history. The Als suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Tiger-Cats in the East Division Final, but were finally on the cusp of dominance.

The Alouettes took the "next step" in 2000 with Calvillo taking over full-time for the now-retired Ham and A.C., Pringle et al led Montreal to a 12-6-0 first-place finish before dispatching of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the East Division Final at Percival Molson Stadium to make their first Grey Cup appearance since '79. Despite losing to the Lions at Calgary's McMahon Stadium, the Alouettes had clearly become the class franchise of the CFL and were ready to start the best decade in franchise history... with one hiccup.


Following three years at the helm of Montreal's football team, Taaffe stepped aside to return to the United States, giving a chance for his defensive coordinator, Rod Rust, to take the reigns as head coach. Rust had a great debut as the team started 9-2-0, but then the wheels fell off and Montreal eventually finished 9-9-0, Rust was let go, and Popp finished out the season coaching the team.

Not all was gloomy for the Als, however, as they hosted an unbelievable Grey Cup Week, culminating with the Stampeders beating the Blue Bombers at a packed Olympic Stadium to win the league title. On an even more positive note for Montreal, the team announced the hiring of Don Matthews as its next head coach during Grey Cup Week.

2002 - 2006

Matthews' reign began with not only a first-place 13-5-0 finish, but the team's first Grey Cup championship since 1977 as the Als defeated the Eskimos 25-16 in Edmonton in his first season as Montreal's coach.

Year 2 was nearly as successful with another 13-5-0 record, but the finish wasn't quite as spectacular as Montreal fell 34-22 to the Esks at Regina's Taylor Field.

In 2004, Matthews led the Als to the best record in franchise history at 14-4-0, but the team suffered a surprise East Division Final loss to the eventual-champion Toronto Argonauts at the Big O when Cavlillo went down with an injury in the second half of the game.

2005 marked yet another amazing year for Matthews and the Als as the team finished second with a 10-8-0 record, and beat the first-place Argos at Toronto's Rogers Centre with running back Éric Lapointe having the game of his career with three touchdowns on the ground. Montreal then lost what is widely considered one of the most exciting games in Grey Cup history with the Eskimos pulling out a 38-35 double-overtime win at Vancouver's BC Place.

Matthews led the Als to an 8-6-0 record in 2006 before stepping aside for health reasons in the second half of the 2006 season. Popp took over coaching duties once again and led the Als all the way to the Grey Cup - a 25-14 loss to the Lions at Winnipeg's Canad Inns Stadium. The game was somewhat controversial as at a key moment, Montreal's Chip Cox returned a fumble by BC quarterback Dave Dickenson that would have given the Als a lead. The officials deemed, however, that Dickenson was down by contact despite replays that showed that he clearly and undisputably fumbled the ball.

2007 - 2008

Popp remained as the Als' coach in 2007 as the team finished 8-10-0 and third in the East before he brought in Marc Trestman to take over coaching duties in 2008 so that he could focus on scouting talent.

Trestman turned out to be nothing short of a revelation, bringing the Als back to first place in the East with a, 11-7-0 mark as a rookie head coach in '08. Montreal made it all the way to the Grey Cup once again, falling 22-14 to the Stampeders in front of 66,308 fans at Olympic Stadium - the second-largest crowd in the game's history.


As the most dominant team of the decade, the Als made the Grey Cup four times between their last win in 2002 and 2009, but lost each time. In 2009, however, the time had come to return to the top of the league. The Alouettes locked up the title with one of the biggest comebacks in championship history after falling behind 17-3 at halftime, and led by Anthony Calvillo, Avon Cobourne and Marc Trestman, were 28-27 winners over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 97th Grey Cup.


For the second straight year, the Alouettes engraved their name on the Grey Cup, something that hadn't been seen for more than 10 years in the CFL. Anthony Calvillo led his team to a 21-18 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Jamel Richardson was named the most outstanding player of the game which was played in Edmonton.

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