Ken Stein worked Game 3 of the Western final as back judge on Nov. 22, 1970, at Taylor Field in Regina.
Kenneth Henry Stein
Born: December 9, 1924
Died: February 4, 2015 (Surrey, British Columbia)
Ken Stein was an on-field official in the CFL in the 1960s. He is remembered by some ardent fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for an unfavourable call in Game 3 of the 1970 Western Final.
That game was played in harsh conditions on Taylor Field, which was covered by snow and resembled more a tundra-like wasteland than a football field. The kick-off temperature was 3-degrees F. with gusting winds from the north measuring 39 m.p.h. Stein, with gloves on his hands and flaps covering his ears, worked the game as the back judge.
With quarterback Ron Lancaster out of the lineup due to injury, the Roughriders depended on import pivot Greg Lane. As the clock ticked down on the third quarter, Lane came close to scoring on a botched handoff to fullback George Reed. Keeping the ball, the quarterback scooted towards the end zone. A Calgary Stampeders defender wrenched off his helmet, and Lane was ruled by officials to have been knocked out of bounds near the one-yard line, though the snow-covered field made it difficult to judge.
With three plays from scrimmage, Lane twice fumbled the handoff, while on a keeper he was ruled again to have been stopped short of the goal line, though it looked to many partisans as though he had crossed the line.
Calgary went on to win the game, 15-14, to advance to the Grey Cup final against Montreal.
Stein, who was based out of Vancouver, had been the target of a harsh attack by Edmonton Eskimos coach Ray Jauch earlier in the month. With the game tied 9-9 in the fourth quarter, the official called pass interference on an Eskimos defender. With the benefit of the penalty, Calgary went on to score a touchdown, the decisive scoring play in a 16-9 victory that eliminated the Eskimos and put the Stampeders in the best-of-three series against the Roughriders.
“Stein was at fault,” coach Jauch said at game’s end. “They out to get him out of the league.
“Until we get a school for referees we’ll have trouble.… On that interference call, the official didn’t even know the rules. He called no yards. Honest, he doesn’t know what’s going on.”
A year earlier, Stein’s work was also called in question by Calgary fans after he failed to rule a tackle after an interception. He was defended by an anonymous CFL official as being “the best backfield judge in the country.”
Among the many games he worked, Stein was an umpire and one of six on-field officials to work the 1966 Grey Cup game at Empire Stadium in Vancouver. Days before the game, he was selected to represent Western field officials in presenting a gift to outgoing CFL commissioner Syd Halter at a banquet in his honour.
After Vancouver was granted an NHL franchise, Stein served as a statistician at home games.
Stein served during the Second World War as a pilot officer station in England with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
After the war, he worked at the Dueck GM dealership in Vancouver, working his way up from lot driver to chairman of the board.