It is the end of a legendary career.

After nearly five decades as the voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Bob Irving will aptly call his final game when the Blues and Golds face longtime rivals the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL Western Final on Sunday.

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Bob Irving retires after nearly 50 years as the voice of Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The legendary player’s latest play-by-play call comes less than a month after he surprised many in Winnipeg with the news that he would be leaving the game at the end of the season.

“Bob is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers,” said Buck Pierce, who has been interviewed by Irving countless times as a former Bombers quarterback and current offensive coordinator.

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Keeping up with the grandkids: Bob Irving learns to floss


Keeping up with the grandkids – Bob Irving learns to floss – October 12, 2018

“Probably, you know, he wouldn’t want me to say that…. But it is, it’s the fabric of this franchise. “

Irving has worked at 680 CJOBs since 1973 and has been broadcasting Blue Bomber games since he started on the station’s game day broadcast team during the 1974 CFL season.

Like Winnipeg fans who will instantly recognize his voice, Irving has followed the Bombers through decades of ups and downs, and is so close to the team that he was given his own Gray Cup ring when they took home the jackpot. of the league in 2019..

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He is such an important part of the team that the press box at IG Field, the Bob Irving Media Center, is even named after him.

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“It was so natural and so easy to have a conversation with him, that, you know, he told the stories of our players, our coaches throughout the years in a unique way,” says Bombers President and CEO Wade Miller. , who was first interviewed by Irving when he was playing for the team in the 1990s.

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“Whether you’re on the tractor on the farm, whether you’re sitting around a campfire, whether you’re in a cabin, whether you’re driving into town for a home game or out, that’s who you’ve heard about it. Soccer Bomber.


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Voice of the Bombers Bob Irving is included in the team’s Ring of Honor


Voice of the Bombers Bob Irving inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor – November 25, 2021

“We are lucky that we all had it for so long.”

Since announcing his retirement on November 9, the famously humble 71-year-old broadcaster has endured a seemingly endless stream of praise from loyal fans – players, coaches, listeners and colleagues alike – and within weeks he received an award. Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.

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The Blue Bombers have also announced plans to induct Irving into the team’s Ring of Honor in a special ceremony before Sunday’s game.

“I can only imagine what it’s been like for him, he must hate it,” laughed his son Kyle Irving, during a call to 680 CJOB to discuss his father’s retirement.

‘I loved every minute of what I did’

Born in Lestock, Sask., Irving developed his lifelong love for the Canadian Football League while growing up in Regina.

When he scored his 800th game in October 2018, Irving recalled how a chance meeting with then-CJOB athletic director Ken “Friar” Nicolson turned out to be a life-changing experience.

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The couple met in the parking lot of the Gray Owl golf tournament in the summer of 1973, and shortly after the conversation, Nicolson hired Bob to join CJOB’s sports department.

Within a year, Irving, affectionately known as ‘Knuckles’ for a healthy aversion to flying, joined the likes of Cactus Jack Wells and Jack Matheson on the Blue Bomber broadcasts.

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Bob Irving, the Voice of Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Receives the City Mayor’s Community Service Award


Bob Irving, the Voice of Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Receives the City Mayor’s Community Service Award

All these years later, Irving says that working in sports broadcasting was a dream come true.

“I loved every minute of what I did … particularly covering soccer and particularly being the voice of the Blue Bombers,” he told 680 CJOB in announcing his retirement.

“Doing the play by play is wonderful and I can’t even put it into words – there’s no way I can convey to people how nice it is.”

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But behind the scenes and between games, Irving also goes to Blue Bombers practice, watches games, and collects daily interviews with players and coaches.

While fans will miss his deep, grave calls on game days, those who have been interviewed by Irving marvel at how he was able to ask the right questions in the right way.

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“There are some media experts who come here like, ‘What happened on your way? Why did you do that? ‘”Recalls former bomber Milt Stegall.

CFL Henry Burris, Bob Irving of 680 CJOB and Russ Hobson of Global laugh during the Shaw CFL Player Awards pre-show in 2015.

Walther Bernal / Global News

“Bob will come in and say, ‘Okay, I hope you don’t mind me asking this question. But you know it’s difficult, but you have to ask.

“You knew that when you were talking to Bob, you were talking to someone who was respected and who also respected you.”

Irving’s meticulous coverage of games and his passion for the CFL earned him countless awards over the years.

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He is a member of the Manitoba Sports Journalists and Media Honor Roll, the Football Reporters of Canada wing of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Order of Manitoba in 2014.

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Irving also received the Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award in 2015, an honor awarded annually by the CFL to “the individual who has strengthened the league, Canadian soccer, as well as solidifying his place in Canadian sports culture.”

“He’s got one of these Pentium processors in his head because he’s able to absorb this information and frame it for everyone in such a short amount of time,” said former bomber Doug Brown, who has been doing game day broadcasts with Irving ever since. 2012.


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The Voice of the Bombers Bob Irving Receives the City Mayor’s Community Service Award


The Voice of the Bombers Bob Irving Receives the City Mayor’s Community Service Award

Brown describes sitting down to call a Bomber game with Irving as “playing ice hockey in a pond with Wayne Gretzky.”

“Paint a picture and illustrate things verbally better than anyone else in the business,” says Brown.

“You know you’re not going to be at this level, so don’t even try.”

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While he says he’d love to keep calling games, and suggests that he can still call CJOB from time to time, Irving says now feels like the right time to pass the torch.

“People ask me why, it’s just the moment. That’s it, ”he said.

“Having the opportunity to play play by play and be the voice of the Blue Bombers has been a real honor for me.”

– with files from Sharon Pfeifer, Kelly Moore and Sam Thompson

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



Reference-globalnews.ca

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