WATCH:

55 Yard Line

Interview: “The Best Team That Never Won” director Christie Callan-Jones on ’71 Argos

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

View gallery

.

"The Best Team That Never Won" looks at some of the 1971 Argos' legendary characters.

TORONTO—TSN's Engraved On A Nation documentary series starts airing its finale Thursday night with the premiere of "The Greatest Team That Never Won" at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific. This film's perfectly apt for this Grey Cup week, as it focuses on the legendary 1971 Argonauts, a team full of top-tier talents like Joe Thiesmann and Jim Stillwagon, but one that lost to an underdog Calgary team 14-11 largely thanks to the infamous "Argo Bounce". With the Argos and Stamps facing off again Sunday, director Christie Callan-Jones spoke with 55-Yard Line Tuesday about the film and how it fits into this week's Grey Cup.

Callan-Jones said like most of the filmmakers in the series, her background isn't in sports, but unlike many of the others, it's an area that's always held a fascination for her.

"I love sports films, but I've never directed one," she said. "Ever since I was a kid; I remember watching The Natural four times."

She said it's the emotional side of sports stories that really appeals to her.

"There's always a lot of emotion, and I love stories with emotion," she said.

View gallery

.

Christie Callan-Jones

Callan-Jones was quickly drawn to how the story of the 1971 Argonauts transcended football, reflecting some of the changes in the city at the time and also being embraced by a wide swath of the town.

"They were such celebrities," she said. "They would walk down the street and they'd get their meals paid for."

She said the personalities on that team and their deep connection with the city were so unique that they're well worth revisiting.

"To me, you couldn't have written better characters," she said. "People really rallied around the team."

Callan-Jones said the city's clashes at the time between the older establishment and the younger generation made the Argonauts and their cast of young, rebellious, larger-than-life characters a perfect fit for Toronto.

"Torontonians, I think, were ready for a team like the '71 Argos," she said. "It was a perfect place and time."

Callan-Jones said a remarkable element with that team was how it came together from humble origins just a few years before.

"When Leo Cahill took over in 1967, they were laughingstocks," she said.

She said part of what made the '71 team so special was that despite their stars, there was a real sense of unity that was crucial to their success.

"You can't win without being a team."

Callan-Jones said that was evident at the 1971 Argos reunion held this fall, which was taped for the film.

"There really was a magic connection," she said.

She said seeing Toronto and Calgary face off again in the Grey Cup this year is incredible, and while it sets up this film perfectly, it leaves her with one regret.

"I wish I could reshoot the end of the film."

"The Best Team That Never Won" first airs Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern on TSN. It repeats Friday at 3 p.m. Eastern and midnight. Find more details and a list of airtimes on other channels here.

View Comments (1)
  • Premier League stars face early-season clampdown by refs

    Premier League stars face early-season clampdown by refs

    This season, at least in these early weeks, English Premier League referees are taking a stand. Diego Costa, Chelsea's typically irate striker, has already been booked for aggressively approaching a referee. The team fell behind to Manchester City … More »

    AP - Sports - 8 minutes ago
  • Rejuvenated Hamilton has 50th win in his sights

    Rejuvenated Hamilton has 50th win in his sights

    By Abhishek Takle SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton can become only the third driver to win 50 grands prix when Formula One returns from its month-long August break and gets back to business at Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. The … More »

    Reuters - 20 minutes ago
  • Olympic flag arrives in Tokyo, governor calls for unity

    Olympic flag arrives in Tokyo, governor calls for unity

    Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike brought the Olympic flag to Japan from Brazil on Wednesday and called for all parties to work together to host a successful Summer Games in 2020. Koike, who was elected last month after two predecessors stepped down over … More »

    Reuters - 22 minutes ago
  • Dodgers rough up Bumgarner, up lead to 2

    Dodgers rough up Bumgarner, up lead to 2

    Rob Segedin sprinted from the outfield to the dugout, got frenzied high-fives from teammates and flew down the stairs toward the clubhouse. ''I don't even know if he showered,'' Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. Innings after getting his second … More »

    AP - Sports - 30 minutes ago
  • IWF to strip 11 weightlifters of medals

    IWF to strip 11 weightlifters of medals

    Three Olympic champion weightlifters from China and eight other medalists stand to be stripped of their titles after failing retests of their doping samples from the 2008 Olympics. The International Weightlifting Federation says the 11 tested … More »

    AP - Sports - 43 minutes ago