Gaels golden again

Football to revert to gold uniforms full time

The Gaels defence celebrates a stop—in traditional gold—on Homecoming Saturday.
The Gaels defence celebrates a stop—in traditional gold—on Homecoming Saturday.

Next year the varsity football team will go back to its golden era in an effort to get their mojo back.

After two straight lacklustre seasons, the football team is switching back to their traditional golden uniforms for the entire season.

“For the better part of 50 years Queen’s football was renowned for playing home and away games in the traditional gold uniforms,” head coach Pat Sheahan said. “It just seems like an oxymoron to have the Golden Gaels wearing blue.” According to the Queen’s Encyclopedia, the football team changed their uniforms in 1947 to gold jerseys and helmets with red pants, prompting Kingston Whig Standard reporter Cliff Bowering to dub the team “the Golden Gaels of Queen’s University.”

The name stuck.

In the early ’90s a feeling began circulating that the gold uniforms were getting stale and Queen’s decided to make a change, Sheahan said.

After the switch, the team wore gold uniforms for away games and blue for home games. White uniforms soon replaced the gold as away game attire, and the gold jerseys were reserved for important games like homecoming and the playoffs.

The brightest shade in the Tricolour served to boost the morale of the players in big games, Sheahan said.

“It was a bit of an extra motivating factor for our kids,” he said, adding that the players felt it was an honour to wear the gold jerseys, and they looked forward to it.

The issue was brought to a head this year because the team will be receiving new uniforms next season. (The process of designing them is currently underway.)

Sheahan said he thinks they will be able to come up with a design that hearkens back to the glory days of yesteryear, but has a decidedly 21st-century feel.

He said from what he has seen, there has been little if any opposition to the proposed change.

“The mock-ups that we have shown the players have [been] met with great enthusiasm,” he said.

With the numbers of fans in the seats of Richardson Stadium steadily dwindling over the past few years, Sheahan said he hopes the revival of the traditional uniforms will help draw in a new crop of football fans.

“What’s been lost on this generation is the pride associated with the gold uniforms,” he said.

He also said he’s a firm believer in the power of sport to instill a sense of pride and unity in Queen’s students. He said the “Big Four” rivalry of the eighties—Queen’s, McGill, Western, and the University of Toronto—epitomized the importance of university football to the community. He said the fan base the exclusive group garnered rivaled the Canadian Football League’s team rivalries.

“Getting some of that ‘Big Four’ magic back on the football scene would be welcomed by fans and I think a lot of people at the university,” he said.

Sheahan said he was adamant that the uniform change be made this year, adding that he believes the gold uniforms will remind the team of its proud history and give the players the confidence they need to recapture those days.

He said he hopes the new uniforms will go hand in hand with a turnaround season next year.

“We’ll see if the gold gives us some golden luck next year,” he said.

Sheahan says he believes tradition is a crucial part of life at Queen’s and that the traditions of varsity football make up a big part of that.

“Athletics are basically a symbol of the spirit of the university,” he said.

He added he believes that students come to Queen’s looking for that little something extra, and the sense of belonging to something bigger and older than themselves is an indispensable piece of their education.

“I think when you ignore the fact that tradition is important here at Queen’s, you miss out on a great deal.”

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