History of the A's

 
 

Doug Cove Joins The Hall Of Fame

 

 

Doug Cove Joins Elite Of Lacrosse

by Jack Gatecliff

The St. Catharines Standard

Saturday August 5, 1989

St. Catharines athlete, sportsman and industrialist Doug Cove has been elected to the players division of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in New Westminster, B. C. The announcement was made this week by Blain McDonald of Mimico, chairman of the Eastern Canada section of the selection committee.

Former Peterborough box lacrosse player and coach Larry Ferguson was the only other Eastern Canadian named to the players division while Ev Coates of Brampton, former secretary–treasurer of the Canadian Lacrosse Association, was added to the builders’ division.

“Doug’s selection was overdue,” said McDonald who is also a Hall of Famer, spending most of his career with Mimico Mounties and one season with St. Catharines Athletics. “Few people have given as much to the game as a player, coach and referee, and he continues to be very active with the St. Catharines Lacrosse Oldboys Association. He was skilled both offensively and defensively and always played a strong aggressive game.

Doug was capable of transmitting his enthusiasm and ability to the younger players he coached. In 1955-56-57 he quickly developed into one of the most respected lacrosse referees and handled both Mann Cup (Canadian senior final) and Minto Cup (Canadian junior final) games after regularly scheduled and playoff games.

Cove, 71, began his lacrosse career just at the time field lacrosse was changing to the box variety. “I played my first games in 1931 on the field behind the Collegiate in what was called the city league,” Cove recalled last night. “Since I was born and brought up in the north end (McGhie Street which is now Central St. Catharines) I played with the Athletics against the Shamrocks in West St. Catharines, the Tecumsehs who were generally kids from around Haig Bowl and the Alerts from the Queenston Street area.”

By 1932, Canadian lacrosse had changed completely to boxla and the Athletics with Cove aboard, won the Ontario juvenile championship, then followed with three consecutive Ontario junior titles (1934-35-36) that included one season when the team was unbeaten in the schedule and playoffs.

“Our closest call was in the 1934 semifinal when we won two games at Haig Bowl and the Marlboros won their two games at Maple Leaf Gardens. The deciding game was in the old Burlington Arena and we managed to defeat them 14 – 13 then beat Orillia and Cornwall for the Eastern Canadian title.”

The 1930’s junior clubs with other players such as Roy Morton, Tank Teather, George Hope, George Urquhart, Gus Madsen and a few others formed the basis of the Athletics teams which dominated the sport with seven Ontario and five Canadian senior championships between 1938 and 1946. However Cove was younger than the majority of the players.

In 1938, he played for the Thorold junior team, then was picked up by Mimico and helped them win the Minto Cup.

He spent part of 1939 with the senior Athletics, then commuted to play with Hamilton Tigers in the senior league in 1940 – 41 as part of the St. Catharines contingent with Normie MacDonald, Carson Myers and the late Russ Masterson.

Cove returned to St. Catharines in 1942, winning the Ontario championship in 1944–45–46 and the Mann Cup senior titles in 1944 and 1946. Cove completed his playing career in 1947 after the Athletics were eliminated in the provincial final by Brampton.

However, he was already into coaching. While still active as a player, he was head coach of the junior Athletics that reached the junior A finals in 1946 and 1949. It was a case of déjà vu for the 5-foot-6, 180-pound Cove in 1950. After playing through the perfect season with the junior Athletics 14 years earlier, he coached the A’s through an unbeaten 1950 schedule and playoffs in Ontario. They won and were awarded the Minto Cup in Vancouver after three straight victories but were forced to face another challenge on their way home in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg team made it close in the first game of the best-of-three set but the Athletics won the next with ease to become the only team in lacrosse history to win the national junior championship twice in one week.

The coaching continued in senior with Hamilton 1951 – 52 and St. Catharines 1953 – 54 but he was doing double duty. “I refereed a few minor lacrosse games in the area and played hockey in the industrial leagues in Grimsby and Garden City Arena so figured I might as well try my hand at handling hockey,” he said. “Things worked out quite well.”

“Quite well” meant that in 1951 and 1952 after a brief OMHA apprenticeship, he not only worked four games in Niagara during the week but also junior A and senior A games on the weekend in Maple Leaf Gardens, Oshawa, Hamilton, Barrie or wherever the seniors and juniors were playing.

“I don’t really do it for money but the extra cash did help,” he said. “I think we made $20 a game plus travel expenses. Doesn’t sound like much now but they were big bucks in those days and it was enough to buy our first family TV from one month of refereeing.”

With Frank Udvari, Jerry Olinski, Jack Mehlenbacher and Andy Bellemer who all eventually officiated in the National Hockey League, Cove was offered an NHL tryout as an official. “My wife Marj and I talked it over but I decided it wasn’t worth giving up all that time with my family and my job at Yale and Towne for the uncertainty of a pro career. I have never regretted that decision.”

Cove started with the Canadian headquarters of Yale and Towne in St. Catharines at 17 years of age after graduating from the Collegiate. He was as dedicated at work as he was during his years in lacrosse and hockey and was plant manager when the company which manufactures locks, lift trucks and front-end loaders left the city because of a strike 15 years ago.

“Except when my wife died in 1983, that was the saddest time of my life,” said Cove. “I’d been at Yale for 42 years as a worker, played hockey for them in the Industrial League and never missed an hour of work even when I was playing and practicing in Hamilton. Then to have to close up the shop and sell all the factory and office equipment left me completely drained.”

Cove has been an ardent golfer for many years. His partners such as Dave Adelstein and a dozen others agree that he’s still a tough competitor even in a friendly round.

With his daughter Lynn (Mrs. Bill Osborne), Cove will fly to New Westminster to accept the award at a Hall of Fame Dinner Oct. 21.


DESERVING HONOR FOR DOUG COVE

Through The Sports Gate

by Jack Gatecliff

Executive Sports Editor

The St. Catharines Standard

Saturday August 5, 1989

When lacrosse was king in St. Catharines, I was double fortunate. I lived on the corner of McGhie and Russell. Two house to the east lived George Hope. Six houses north on McGhie lived Doug Cove. Both were lacrosse stars with St. Catharines junior teams in the mid-1930’s. And both later played with senior Athletic teams that brought fame to this city. The kids at Alexandra School couldn’t believe I was blessed with two great athletes virtually on my doorstep.

Cove was named to the Canadian Hall of Fame this week; Hope, if there is fairness and justice in the sports world, will follow.

So the latest hall-of-famer in New Westminster, B. C. was my neighbor and later my junior lacrosse coach, senior teammate and good friend. The first time I saw Doug was from my backyard as he plodded up McGhie, turned west on Russell on his way to the Haig Bowl, his lacrosse stick over his shoulder as a carrier for his equipment bag.

PLAYER AND BUILDER

If it were possible, Cove could have been inducted into both the players and builders’ divisions of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. As this is against regulations he will be, and rightfully so, in the players division which carries more prestige.

No one else connected with lacrosse ever played with three Ontario junior championship teams (Athletics) and a Minto Cup club when Mimico picked him up from the Thorold juniors and won the second series ever played between east and west; played with two Mann Cup teams in St. Catharines; coached a Minto Cup team, the Athletics in 1950; coached St. Catharines and Hamilton senior teams and also played with Hamilton; refereed Mann Cup and Minto Cup games in Maple Leaf Gardens and elsewhere.

Doug was one of the smallest players (5-foot-6, 170 – 190 pounds) but claims he never realized the physical attributes of his opponents “so played like a big guy.” “One year we had trouble checking Jerry Connell who was about 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, so I told the coach I’d give it a shot and managed to shut him down. It was the same with Harry Lumley, the Detroit goaltender who was a great lacrosse forward with Owen Sound. I tapped him up a bit with my stick, stuck right with him and I guess I did a fairly good job.”

“One year when I played for Hamilton against St. Catharines, I was checking the late Wandy McMahon. We were good buddies off the floor and all of a sudden he dropped his stick, spread his hands and asked, 'Doug, why do you hit me so hard?’ I was shocked. That was just the way I played the game and I never felt I was overly rough.”

MR. CONTROVERSY

Cove was often the subject of controversy as player and coach.

In 1940, he elected to play for Hamilton. “The next year I wanted to go back to the Athletics. After all, I didn’t drive a car, had to ask guys to take me up to Hamilton or go by bus, then hope for a ride home. Russell T. Kelly, who ran the lacrosse Tigers, had a large advertising business and offered me a good job if I stayed. But I really wanted to leave. The Athletics pulled out because they couldn’t have me. Then they decided to go back in but were blocked. Finally I told Mr. Kelly that if he’d give me $1,000 and let the Athletics in the league, I’d stay in Hamilton. I got the $1,000 but when Gene Dopp of the CLA found out, he told me the money had made me a professional and I’d never get into the amateur hall of fame. Of course most players got some cash but the OLA and CLA wouldn’t admit it.”

If the late Mr. Dopp is watching New Westminster from above, he may be surprised to note his dire prediction failed to materialize.

Then there was the 1950 season when the junior Athletics, with Doug coaching, won every league and playoff game in Ontario and took the west in Vancouver three straight for the Minto Cup. “They presented us with the Cup, then we got a wire from Chuck Rowan (CLA secretary-treasurer) that Manitoba had issued a challenge and we had to stop there to defend the title we just won. I was mad as hell and so were the kids, but it turned out OK when we beat them twice after a shaky first game.”

The best players he has seen: in goal, Bill Whittaker of St. Catharines; offensively, the great Indian star Bill Isaacs of Hamilton and Roy Morton of the Athletics.

No argument with those selections as Doug Cove played with and against all three and joins them in the Hall of Fame.

Doug Cove passed away on Easter Sunday, April 11th, 2004 in his 86th year. Twelve members of the St. Catharines Old Boys Lacrosse Association formed an honour guard at the funeral in Guelph ON. "He stood out in his own style. He was short and stocky, a gentleman and a clean player, but a hard defenseman. He was a quiet type of guy but he got the job done. Doug had the personality that he was liked by everyone" - Whitey Frick

related reading: The Battle For Doug Cove

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