A fifteen-year veteran with the BC Lions, Al “Dirt” Wilson was a seven-time Western Conference and Canadian all-star.
Wilson started playing football in high school with the Cowichan Timbermen, honing his skills as a defensive end, an offensive guard, and a tight end. He went on to play college ball at Montana State from 1968-72, and was team captain in his senior year.
Wilson joined the Lions in the CFL in 1972 and played for the club for fifteen years. Rarely missing a game, his inspirational play led to his selection as a Western Conference and Canadian all-star for seven consecutive years from 1975-81. In addition, he was a three-time nominee for the CFL’s Western Conference Schenley Award for “Most Outstanding Offensive Linemen,” a prestigious title he won in 1977.
In 1983, the BC Lions lost the Grey Cup to the Toronto Argonauts by a single point. Wilson spearheaded their return in 1985 to capture the coveted trophy for only the second time in the team’s history—the first Grey Cup for the Lions in 21 years.
In 1985, the BC Lions celebrated Wilson’s football career by retiring his jersey number 52. When he announced his retirement from the game, the City of Vancouver proclaimed June 28, 1987 as “Al Wilson Day.” His hometown of Duncan also recognized his achievements by naming a local street and public park in his honour. Wilson was also later inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.