WINNIPEG – If it were up to Bob Irving, he’d rather not have the spotlight on him.
The voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers since 1973, Irving is part of the Bombers Hall of Fame Class of 2016 alongside players John Helton and Bob Molle.
“They’ve suggested it the last few years and I’ve always declined. I’ve always said ‘If you feel I’m worthy, when I retire, that’s when you should consider me,'” Irving says. “But I missed the meeting, I was away. I got a call when I got back that I’d been railroaded. It was very surprising and very humbling.”
Irving began his broadcasting career in Estevan, SK before moving into the Bombers booth. He had never done play-by-play of any kind until CJOB asked him to give it a shot.
“And then they put me with Kenny Ploen, Jack Wells and Jack Matheson is hovering in the background. These are icons in our business. It was really exciting,” Irving explains. “To get to do this at 23, 24 years of age, wow, was that ever special.”
The honour is the latest for the broadcasting veteran, but he gives a lot of credit to the legends who came before him in allowing him to thrive.
“Those guys were all great to me. They were so gracious and supportive. They took me under their wing. I can’t say enough about what those people have meant to me and my wife. When we came here we didn’t know anybody. Here’s these legends that I’m surrounded by and they just treated us like gold. We’re forever grateful.”
John Helton was a dominant defensive lineman who made a name for himself with the Stampeders before being traded to Winnipeg in 1979. He was a CFL All-Star in his first year as a Bomber, one of his nine career CFL All-Star honours.
Bob Molle was the Bombers’ first-round pick in 1985, a year after winning a silver medal in wrestling at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He started on the defensive line before swapping over to the offensive side. He won Grey Cup rings in 1988 and 1990, the only athlete to ever win a Grey Cup and an Olympic medal.
The names of these inductees and the rest of the nearly 130 members of the Hall of Fame can now be seen on a special Hall of Fame walk, unveiled outside the stadium.