Intercollegiate Competition Begins
In 1919, the arrangement between London and Western junior football ended and with Mel Brock as coach, Western joined the intermediate intercollegiate football league in 1920. The 1921 season went so poorly for the team, who were dealing with rule changes and the more competitive intercollegiate league, that there was a mass meeting of students called to discuss whether or not the football team should be dropped so it couldn’t tarnish the school’s reputation. The result was a huge show of support for the team and in the spring of 1922, Lt-Col. Eric “Buster” Reid (former McGill star and Western coach) and George Little who played on the 1914 championship team planned to improve football at Western. They introduced a regimen similar to today’s pre-season training, whereby all players would turn up two weeks prior to classes starting and participate in a strict training program out of the Oxford Street gym.
In 1923, AW Buckland, a former Ottawa Rough Rider, took over as head coach at Western, followed in 1924 by Clarence Fickley who played ten seasons with the Hamilton Tigers. Immediate improvement in the team followed. In 1925, Western launched two teams, the intermediates and the juniors. In Fickley’s final season as coach - 1926 - the Western team won its first intermediate intercollegiate group title.
Art Wilson became head coach in 1927 and led the team to their first intermediate intercollegiate championship. Following multi-year negotiations, Western was accepted into the senior intercollegiate league in 1928. This new status meant more fans, so it was decided that Western should have a new stadium to replace the inadequate facilities which featured temporary stands.
Joe Breen took over as coach for the 1929 season with assistant coach Milt Burt and Paul Hauch as captain.