MATT ANTHONY HAD a simple approach to football and life: be tough but be fair.
This simple mantra led to an illustrious career as a football player, coach, and businessman. With 15 years on the sidelines as a Gee-Gees coach, Matt Anthony led the team from 1954–69, throughout the beginnings of the Panda Bowl.
A Canadian Football League (CFL) player prior to coaching the Gee-Gees, Anthony began his professional football career with the Montreal Alouettes in 1946 and quickly became a CFL all-star the following year on the offensive end.
Succeeding his selection to the all-star team, Anthony joined the Ottawa Rough Riders where he played in the 1948 Grey Cup when Ottawa lost to Calgary. Following this disappointing loss, Anthony joined Saskatchewan for the following two seasons and then returned to Ottawa in 1951 for his final three seasons as a CFL player.
With his return to Ottawa, Anthony faced his former team Saskatchewan in the Grey Cup once again, only to emerge victorious as part of the 1951 Grey Cup champions.
After concluding his CFL career as a player, Anthony signed a whopping $100 contract to become the new head coach of the University of Ottawa’s football team in 1954.
In his 15 years as head coach, Anthony helped transform the team into a perennial powerhouse, winning six conference titles and achieving four unbeaten seasons. Anthony’s most notable accomplishment as coach was the Panda Bowl; he holds an 11–3 record in 14 years, including nine straight wins against the Carleton Ravens.
Anthony’s playing style was said to be tough, grinding football. He loved to play the ground game while establishing the team through a few key plays that were well executed.
In his ensuing job as coach, Anthony led the Ottawa Sooners for the next few seasons and continued a brief stint as head coach for the St. Patrick’s High School football team.
Enshrined in the Gee-Gees’ football Hall of Fame for his dedication and success as coach of the football team, Anthony’s memory also continues to live on in the naming of Matt Anthony Field.
Following its construction in 2001 and its resurfacing in 2011, Matt Anthony Field has received much praise from the athletic community. The resurfacing also earned it a FIFA 2-Star certification.
Located outside the Minto Sports Complex, today Matt Anthony Field is primarily home to the women’s rugby and soccer teams and continues to be the men’s football practice facility, until they grow cozy at Lees Avenue Field.
Matt Anthony’s contribution to the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa region has proven to be invaluable. For a man who seemed to find success wherever he went, his dedication to not only the football program but to the moulding of his players characterizes his greatest success.