the younger sibling of a star in a sport can sometimes be difficult for
any athlete. But Jimmy McMahon would emerge from the long shadow of his
older brother Jack’s stellar career to become one of the premier goal
scorers of his era and a bona fide Hall-of-Famer in his own
a playing weight of only 145 pounds, Jim would rely on his speed and
“shiftiness” to drive an offence-oriented game that was the hallmark
of the exciting brand of lacrosse played during the 1940’s. His scoring
exploits would be a vital component of the Athletics last Mann Cup
championship team in 1946 and in 2001 he would join “Wandy” in the
Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
||Were all of your
family born in Scotland?
||My two older sisters were born in Scotland, but “Wandy”
(brother Jack) and I were born in St. Catharines. My dad was originally
born in Ireland. That’s why our name is Mc and not Mac. His family moved
to Dundee, Scotland and then his mother died when he was only two years
old. His grandmother raised him. And his father died when he was
don’t know how they ended up in St. Catharines, but at first they lived
right across from Edith Cavell School. Before I was born, there use to be
a paper mill at the bottom of the hill where Rodman Hall is, McKinley’s
Paper Mill. My dad worked there, and later on he had a bakery. He was at
Ontario Bakery for a while before he left and started on his own.
||At a time when
lacrosse was reemerging as something special in St. Catharines,
“Wandy” was playing senior and you were still pretty young. Did that
make you a bit of a celebrity at school?
||There was an eight and a half years age difference between
Wandy and myself. We were close in one respect, but not that much because
of the age difference. I was the youngest in our family. If "Wandy"
were still alive, he’d be 92.
I went to school out here
(West St. Catharines) and this was a township back then. This was really a
ral area and I was brought up just two houses from where I live now.
I’ve been in this area all my life.
So there wasn’t that much
attention about being “Wandy’s” brother. The only advantage I had
was that my mother and father took me to a lot of the games when he was
playing at that time, the pre-war years. They would play their home games
on Saturday night and not too many kids would get in unless they sneaked
in. But my parents would take me. It was either take me or pay for a baby
In 1938, I was over at the
Mann Cup games when the Athletics won at Maple Leaf Gardens. And I was
also over in 1936 when my brother played for the Orillia Terriers. I was
privileged because my parents would take me to see the games.
||When did the McMahons
get started in lacrosse?
||I picked up a stick when I was about six and a half or seven
years old. Wandy picked up a stick when he was in juvenile. Then we built
the nets and stuff out here when we were only about eleven years old. And
we played, and played, and played, and played.
Smith and I grew up together. We were only two houses apart, and Pat and I
were good friends. He is two years older than me and we played junior
lacrosse and senior lacrosse together. There used to be a field right
across the street where we played lacrosse. When we were maybe 11 years
old, we used to swim across the creek, cut down trees, float them back
across the creek, trimmed them, made post holes, got pieces of tin and
chicken wire, we already had a net, and then we had our own field and
everything right there across the street. We put a backstop there, maybe
because we were lazy, but we were able to try to improve our shooting
because we didn’t have to chase the ball. And then we had another net at
the other end and we would have games. Even “Wandy” would come out and
he was playing juvenile then.
We would have kids anywhere
from 10 to 20 playing lacrosse every Sunday, and some of the kids that
were 11 and 12 were better than the kids that were 18 and 19...outside of
And for the younger ones,
that’s all we did during the summer holidays. Go out there and play
lacrosse in the morning, then throw our sticks into our yard or Pat’s
yard, then run down to the creek and swim. Home for lunch and then out
again. We used to even sleep out there sometimes, right across the road
where there was an open field.
just lived and breathed lacrosse.
||A lot of good
||Yes, and nobody had any money. We would get 10 cents on a
Saturday to go to a show, 8 cents for the movie and 2 cents for some
candy. We’d walk way up to James Street and go to the Granada. And we
had a great time.
I remember once about four
or five years ago, I think we were playing cribbage or something, and I
met this guy and he asked me what my name was. I thought he looked
familiar and I said I remembered that we played lacrosse as kids out
there. He said he remembered hitting this small kid with the stick and all
of the other kids chased him all the way home. Well, guess who that small
kid was. (laughs)
There are five guys that
came from the Pelham Road area where I grew up that are in the Canadian
Lacrosse Hall of Fame. They’re not all the same age, but there was “Wandy”,
Doug Smith, Tony D’Amico, Pat Smith and myself.
||Being involved in
lacrosse at such an early age, would you have any recollections of the
field game in St. Catharines?
||I didn’t see too much field lacrosse but I did see some
because my older brother “Wandy” played juvenile field lacrosse. I
remember a player named Doucette taking a swing with his stick at a
referee at a field lacrosse game. I think it was a game between the
Shamrocks from West St. Catharines and the Tecumsehs. The Tecumsehs were a
team that was based out of the area where the Haig Bowl would be built and
the Athletics were based out of the area around where the St. Catharines
Collegiate is. That was about the only field lacrosse that I ever saw and
I was probably only about 8 or 9 years old then.
But, I played two
exhibition games when I was in midget against the old-timers. We played
down in Walkinshaw Park and it was against, I don’t know if you ever
heard of them, Chuck Green, Willie Warburton and those guys.
The only other connection I
had with field lacrosse was a game I refereed in 1967. It was the
centennial and they had a field lacrosse game here at Club Heidelberg.
They had a four-team tournament that year and they played games in Fergus,
Toronto and here. The game I did was between England and Australia. I was
a box referee at the time and I was picked along with a couple of American
referees. Bobby Dobbie did the game in Fergus. Needless to say I didn’t
blow my whistle because the rules were so much different.
||This area of the city
had its own lacrosse association and the teams were called the Shamrocks.
||There were a lot of kids that played minor lacrosse then,
and every kid and his brother had a lacrosse stick. The box was over at
Lincoln Park and we played midget there but it didn’t last too long
because people would steal the wood. People didn’t have too much money
and they would burn the wood from the lacrosse box, they took some of the
boards home for firewood.
||Where were some of the
other lacrosse boxes in the city then?
||There was a lacrosse box down on Bartlett Street, off of
Tasker. There use to be an old lacrosse box at the end of the Townline
Road in Merritton at the top of the hill, out towards the canal. This was
probably around 1934. We used to go over there just to play pick-up. I
don’t know who organized it.
And we played a team in
Thorold South. They had a box right there on Niagara Falls Road. It was
actually a hockey rink. That was all before I started to play organized
We used to sneak into
Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie and that’s when they put up a temporary
lacrosse box there. The Inglis brothers, the Pinder boys and different
guys played for Port. My brother was playing then and I remember seeing
“Wandy” getting into a fight with the goaltender, “Lick” McGregor.
||What do you remember
of your earliest organized lacrosse?
||The lowest classification was midget when I started in 1936
and I was thirteen years old. There were four midget teams and four
juvenile teams and we would take turns playing before the senior game, and
before our game was over we would be playing in front of 3,500 people at
the Haig Bowl. And then we would get to see the senior game. It was a good
life back then.
also used to go down to the Haig Bowl on a Saturday morning when we played
midget and Alex MacKenzie was in charge of the bowl and he would let us in
to play. That’s where we met Tommy Madsen. He lived on Queen Street near
Montebello Park. There would be a lot of guys there and we would chose up
sides and have a game there on Saturday mornings.
We used to get equipment
given to us. In juvenile we had our shoes given to us, our gloves given to
us, our sticks given to us. We didn’t have to pay for anything. And
later on in ’39, Jack Dempsey’s clothing store sponsored the Shamrock
junior team. I was on that team during the season but I dropped down to
junior “B” for the playoffs as I was only 15 years old. That was when
I was playing midget, juvenile and junior all in that one year. In 1939 we
had four midget teams, four juvenile teams, and I think three junior teams
right in the city. That was the year Dougie Favell won four medals and I
won three. I was on the provincial champions in midget, juvenile and
junior “B”, all in one year.
We would go down to Norwood, that is just the other side of Peterborough,
and we used to play Cornwall there. We went down two years in a row. We
didn’t have tournaments but we had playoffs and we played against
Hamilton, Brampton, and Mimico. We would always seem to win, and then we
would go down and compete against Cornwall in Norwood for two years in a
row. They formed a bantam team out of the young guys on the midget team. I
didn’t play bantam but Dougie Favell did and he got the extra medal.
As far as the Shamrock Junior “A’ team in 1939 was concerned, we had
four fellows from Thorold that came down to play for us. And this was
before Port Dalhousie had any kind of minor lacrosse, so Bill Mackie
played. Bill Mackie wanted to play senior.
||By 1940 the city
junior league was ending and St. Catharines put one team into the Ontario
league. Did you play on that team?
||I was on the junior team that went into the
O. L. A in 1940.
There was also Pat Smith, Tommy Madsen, Doug Favell, and Doug Garriock on
that team…they were picked up by Orillia Terriers and went out to
compete for the Minto Cup out west.
||Then there wasn’t
any junior lacrosse in Ontario until after the end of the war.
||Yes, and I played Senior “B” for St. Catharines in
’41. There were Tommy Madsen and I, Doug Favell and three or four other
juniors playing on that team because there wasn’t a junior team. We had
a couple of the Masterson boys, Russ and Ernie. And we played against Owen
Sound and they had a lot of players that had played for Orillia Terriers
Jr. “A”. We took them right to the fifth game in Owen Sound and we
only had ten guys. I was just eighteen years old then.
And that’s really how we got to Owen Sound in 1942. The next year Owen
Sound wanted Tommy Madsen and I to play up there. It was the first year
Owen Sound had a senior “A” team, the Owen Sound Georgians, and they
played in the old arena way out at the end of Second Avenue East. Second
Avenue is the main street in Owen Sound.
Owen Sound was nice. I
enjoyed playing up there. It was the first time I was away from home and I
was up there when I still had two years of junior left. I played with
Rusty White and these guys.
I played against a guy who
had played in the old pro league in ’32. I remember I took a rebound off
our goalie, Ray Mortimore, and he swung and hit me right here inside the
knee. He was about 5’ 10” and quite stocky. But at that time he was
getting a little older and a little ornery I guess. My knee swelled up and
that was on a Thursday night, and I was on crutches.
We had a game in St. Catharines on the Saturday night and I played because
I wanted to play against St. Catharines.
||Then you were in the
armed services for a couple of years. When you were in the Navy on the
Pacific coast and you came back in ‘44, did you have a chance of playing
on the Athletics Mann Cup team that year?
||No. I was asked. St. Catharines did contact me about playing
but I was headed down to Halifax.
||Were you put on a
||Yes, I was but not for very long.
I was on a corvette for a while, but we were just along the coast.
I went down to Bermuda as training on one of the American destroyers. We
had a torpedo shot at us, but I didn’t see that much action.
But, you know Ike
Hildebrand (New Westminster forward
who played terrifically against the Athletics in the 1944 Mann Cup and was
awarded the series MVP). Well, I played against Ike Hildebrand before
anybody knew about him. I played on the Navy team out west and Ike played
for the Salmonbellies. We beat them the last few games in the regular
season and we were the favoured team in the playoffs.
I was 21 and I think I was
the fourth oldest guy on the team. Talk about assists. I played 10 games;
I had 37 goals and 3 assists. But we had one good line with Jack McKinnon
and Kenny Webb. The other line had one guy that was a soccer player. He
wasn’t a lacrosse player. The kid was 17 years old. Plus another guy
that hadn’t played much. Whereas I was at 21 in my third year of senior
after playing senior “B” in ’41 and playing senior “A” in Owen
Sound in ’42.
We had a practice one day
and we threw our equipment in the back of a truck and that was the last I
saw of my stick. You can’t break in a new stick. So the Burrards beat us
3 – 0 and it was by one goal each game. I only got about one goal a game
after we had beat the Salmonbellies several times. They had a few older
guys like Bert Bryant and Bill Dickinson, and a couple of the Cavallins.
We didn’t have too much
trouble against Ike out there because a lot of our younger guys knew Ike.
They had played against him and they knew about him. They were the same
age as he was or maybe just a year older.
||By 1946 the war was
over and the Athletics had one of their best box teams of all time. This
was really your first full season with the A’s and you had a big year
with 77 goals during the regular season and another 31 in the playoffs.
||Our 1946 team was a little unique because every forward was
a right-handed shot. A couple of the extra players had left-handed shots,
but all the regulars were right-handed shots. Roy Morton, Joe Cheevers,
George Urquhart and my brother “Wandy”, they had come from the ’38
team and they were all right-handed shots. And “Stuey” Scott, Pat
Smith, “Ham” Nelson and I were all right-handed shots.
Doug Cove, Frank Madsen,
and Carson Myers on defense were right-handed shots. Tommy Madsen was the
only left-hand, plus Jerry Fitzgerald. Jerry was only young then,
something around 18-years-old and he was really the fifth defenseman then.
We had two good
goaltenders, Bill Whittaker and Doug Favell. Favell eventually went to
Hamilton just because Whittaker had been a mainstay here for years and
||And you were on a line
with Stu Scott, Pat Smith, and Ham Nelson. Who would play the off-wing?
||Well probably somebody like Nelson or “Stuey”.
Nelson, Pat and I on our
line could all play centre. But usually I dropped back to the rover spot.
My brother played rover on the other line. Back then it was seven-man
Nelson was big. They used to
call us “the mule and the three asses”. Nelson would get hurt more
than we did. He was big and we were small. We couldn’t afford to get hit
because we were small. I was a runner. I would keep moving and it was
harder to hit a moving object. (laughs)
we played, the defense would get the ball in our own end and one of the
forwards would be up a bit. Usually that was “Stuey” on our line. They
would try to get the ball up to him and he tried to break. And the rest of
us would start running and that was what put the motion in it. The other
team would run to get back and we would run to get a jump on them. Back
then the ball would always be the first thing down the floor.
The game slowed down in
later years when the ball was the last thing down the floor.
||The Athletics were in
a great race with Mimico all that season and then you went to seven games
against them in the Ontario finals.
||Mimico had a real good team and they beat us one game in
Mimico by 24 – 8. Well we went over there for the third to last game of
the season and we were both tied for first place. We were missing
“Stuey” and Pat off our line, so we played “Ducky” Whitely and
Norm McDonald. The winner of that game was going to get first place which
meant the extra game in the playoffs, and that’s exactly what happened.
We went in there without “Stuey” and Pat, and we beat them right
there. And that was the game that Nelson and I each got 10 points. I had 7
goals and 3 assists and Nelson had 5 and 5.
And that was the time they
threw pop bottles at us at the game. It wasn’t really directed at us but
I was in the center of it. Mimico already had a penalty and one of our
guys took a shot at the net and missed. I raced back down the floor to
pick up the ball and Donny MacPhail came and pushed me from behind and
knocked me off my feet. I got a free throw and Claude Clarke from Hamilton
was the referee. He gave me the ball but he was holding my stick and
that’s when the Coca-Cola bottles started to come. Man, could you
imagine if one ever hit you? At one end of the Mimico Bowl there were no
seats and they had a couple of boxcars there as dressing rooms. I just
dropped my stick and both teams ran to that end where the boxcars were.
But Mimico was a good team,
Donny MacPhail, George Masters, Kenny Dixon, Archie Dixon, Jack Williams,
“Boxcar” McLean...6’ 6” on defense, “Scoop” Hayes, Tony
Worsencroft, and I think Blain McDonald played on that team.
At the end of the third
period, there was four periods then, Tommy Madsen got a five-minute
penalty. The score then was 10 – 10. And the old guys, “Urkie” and
my brother scored short-handed goals, and then we went on to win 17 –
11. If we hadn’t won that game we probably wouldn’t have got by them
in the playoffs without the extra home game. That was probably the best
game I ever played in my life. That one and one I played in Quebec City
that we won 15 – 9 and I had nine points.
||After winning Ontario
in ‘46, the A’s went to Quebec City to play for the Eastern Canada
title. What was that like?
||Quebec was tough too. We went down there and Morton didn’t
go. Neither did “Wandy” and Cheevers. We went by train and got into
the stuff. When we got there we had a practice at 7 o’clock that night
and these guys couldn’t even see. We could have used a football and they
wouldn’t have seen it. There were quite a few people out at our practice
and I know one guy came over and made a pretty big bet with Bill Demars
(Athletics trainer). He gave Bill odds too. It was the easiest money Bill
But the people stood up
through the whole game at the Coliseum and they threw money on the floor.
I don’t know why.
||They didn’t throw them at us, but whenever something
happened and they cheered, they threw money on the floor. And Doug Cove
ran out and picked up all the money.
At that game “Stuey”,
Pat and I got four goals each and Nelson got one.
||How long would your
line be on for a shift?
||Well you see we couldn’t change on the fly. Like down here
at the Haig Bowl, when you went to the bench it was like going up some
stairs. At the players entrance there would be a couple of guys sitting
and the rest would be about four stairs up. It was just an ordinary door
and when it closed your coach stood there. There was no such thing as the
players bench being twenty feet long.
||So you’d wait for a
whistle and then change?
||Yes, but the funny thing was that there wasn’t that many
penalties called. There were a few unwritten laws like there was never any
butt-ending. That surprises a lot of people. Back then, lacrosse players
didn’t wear cups. I never wore a cup in my life. The only guys that wore
cups were the goaltender and any guy that played hockey. And we didn’t
wear helmets and masks. I was lucky for all the
years I played, I only had about seven or eight stitches and had my nose
cracked twice. And one tooth chipped here.
My legs were the best part
of me. “Wandy” was known as a penalty killer. I was too and you know
it’s actually easier to beat two guys that it is to beat one. When
you’re killing a penalty and you have two guys trying to box you in,
neither one of them is giving you 100% of their attention. So you just
pick the moment and the place to go is in between them.
I always liked the dirt
floor at the Haig Bowl. I always figured you could shift better on a dirt
floor, you could kind of dig in on the ball of your foot. You would get
scrapped up if you fell down though. But the worst place was in Fergus
with their softwood floor. I never use to wear kneepads and when you fell
on that floor it would really burn.
||Let’s jump to 1949
and the year that you, Stu Scott, and Bill Nelson were suspended by the O.
L. A. for the year for playing during the off-season. Why were you given
||We still don’t know. They always had some winter lacrosse
and all the guys before the war use to play out of Buffalo. There were two
teams playing out of Buffalo, the Buffalo Eddies and the Buffalo Bowman
Stoves. I guess they were juniors at that time. My brother told me this
because I was still young. Morton, Urquhart, Whittaker, Hope, Doug Cove,
all those guys played on the Athletics junior team here back in 1934. And
from the Tecumsehs side they had Cheevers, the Madsens, Fitzgerald, and
goaltender “Shy” Manning. They became the nucleus of the ’38 team.
Anyways later, Rochester
had a team and they played in the armouries and the teams over here,
Mimico, Hamilton, Brampton would go over on different weeks to play them.
Mimico would go over one week, St. Catharines would go over, then Hamilton
would go over on another. And to be honest with you, we didn’t play all
winter but they were playing every Friday over there. We use to get a team
guarantee and they would split it up among the players. Then the following
night they would go and play in Geneva, New York. The floor there was
about the size of a basketball court. We used to just stand back and shoot
the ball. Some of the players were from Hobart University in Geneva and
one of them threw a flying block at “Ducky” Whitely. They were big
guys, big football players.
We didn’t hold onto the
ball too long. They couldn’t handle the stick that well. But we were
shooters. We used the swing shot.
The next year, Rochester
wanted to strengthen their team up so that they could compete better
against the teams from over here. In the long run, everybody would have
made a little more money. They used to draw about two thousand people to a
game and they would have drawn more than that if they had won more games.
So at that time, “Stuey”, Nelson and I, all of our line had over a
hundred points. Morton went over too, he was a little older. Bill Demars
would drive us over because he was the only one that had a car. We played
over there and we were going to play the teams from over here so we asked
for permission from the O. L. A. to go over. This was wintertime, not
summertime. We had asked for permission, they put up all the advertising
for the game and then the O. L. A. waited to the very last. We were going over
on a Friday night and they waited to Thursday before they told us we
Well we went over there and
played, and a fellow from Brampton paid his own way over and caught us. We
knew who he was; we even talked to him over there.
Anyways what happened was
that all the teams over here lost out. The teams over here would like to
go over there because they would pick up a little money. If you wanted to
blow your money and have a good time, you could. Or if you wanted to you
could bring it back to your family. Money was scarce. They were the ones
that lost out, not us. The six of us kept going over, the referee, the
trainer and the four players…and we all got the same money. We turned
around and played about twenty games, all against Native teams. We played
every Friday night.
We did play against Medina,
just outside of Buffalo, and they had a lot of juniors from St. Catharines
and even Blain McDonald (from Mimico). “Tank” Teather also went over
to play for Medina, and they didn’t get suspended. We were suspended for
the following summer over here and that took the three highest scorers off
the team for ’49.
There were a lot of people
around here that weren’t too happy with a lot of things, that’s the
reason “Stuey” went to Burlington. He figured St. Catharines didn’t
fight enough for him. “Stuey” said he’d never play another game for
St. Catharines and he didn’t.
||Did you feel that you
lost anything in your game after sitting out the 1949 season?
||Well, I probably did. Another thing was that there were a
bunch of younger fellows coming up, Doug Smith and all those guys. The
unfortunate part then was that the style of lacrosse was changing too. It
was becoming that the last thing up the floor was the ball. With us it was
that the ball was the first thing up the floor…big difference. It hurt
me too when the defense started to play farther in. There wasn’t enough
space to beat guys.
Just after the war, in
’46 and ’47, it was good lacrosse. And ’38, ’39 and ’40 was good
lacrosse too. They moved the ball as well. Of course the crowd makes the
game too. The bigger the crowd, the better you play. And the better you
play, the more people you get.
I think they eventually
brought in the shot clock because of the style brought in by Owen Sound
back in the late forties. When Owen Sound came down here they would walk
the ball because they couldn’t run with us.
Lacrosse really went
downhill. Sometime around 1948 lacrosse started to peter out. I don’t
know if it was a fair weather sport or a depression sport, whatever you
want to call it, but as far as I’m concern, there was a decade there
where lacrosse was really down in the doldrums.
And then not only that, but
in St. Catharines the guys started to leave town. Guys went to
Peterborough…Bobby Thorpe, Harry Wipper, Nip O’Hearn and Jerry
Fitzgerald. Jim McNulty, Leo Teatro and Ken Croft to West York, Doug
Favell to Hamilton. In about four years, I was the only one left.
Peterborough produced a lot
of great players, but when they first started they went with an import
||That hurt lacrosse?
||Definitely. Owen Sound dropped out after they lost Slater,
Mason and Wootton. It almost killed lacrosse in St. Catharines from the
players they took from here. And other places suffered, Hamilton doesn’t
have a team, Mimico is gone and they used to draw 3,500 people at the
Drummond Street Bowl.
||In 1954 you made the
jump too and went to Hamilton. Did they entice you to play for them?
||No, it was a combination of things…the Athletics were
bringing up the juniors, we played in the Garden City Arena in 1953 and it
was so hot, and some of us weren’t getting the playing time.
“Skippy” Teal, Bobby Melville, “Ook” Frick and I use to kid with
each other about bringing the cribbage board to the games.
Anyways, when I got around
29 or 30 I found I couldn’t make the same moves, or I would see a ball
bouncing and I couldn’t get it. But
later on it came back. Even in ’58 in Welland, we lost the first two
games to Long Branch but after that we went down to two lines. I played a
lot and we won in four straight then. I was in fairly good shape in 1958
all considered. I was working shift work and I had a family, and it was
tough. But I kept playing.
“Skippy” Teal use to
say to me that he had to carry me because I was 35. We were always kidding
L. A. Senior "A" Champions
Row: Joe McNulty, Doug Smith, Ron Roy, Justin
Mike D'Amico, Don Baker, Jim McMahon, Allan "Skip" Teal
Row: Bill Burnett (trainer), Jack
"Nip" O' Hearn, Dick Morningstar, Gary Carr, Brian
Woods, Rich Daniels, Dave Hall, Jack Galway, Les Howard, Ted Howe,
Carl "Gus" Madsen (coach)
courtesy of Chris McNulty
||The main part of your
game in your prime was your speed?
||Yes, speed and shift. It was a different game then. If I
went down with “Nip” O’Hearn and “Nip” knew I would try to beat
my man, he would make a move and dash for somewhere else to take his man
with him. This would open up a larger area for me. If I beat my man, then
I didn’t want to run into his man.
We had bigger nets too. The
scoring in junior now is way down. It is ridiculous with the pads that the
goalies are allowed to wear and the nets are smaller. They aren’t really
developing lacrosse players, outside of shooting the ball. Nobody can beat
anybody. Well, I’m not saying they can’t, but it’s not the style of
||You were still a
pretty effective player when you were in the late stages of your career
with the Welland Switsons in ’58 and ’59, better than a goal a game
player over those two years. That seemed to be the end of it but something
prompted you to come back in 1961 for one more shot.
||I came back in 1961 when Normie Corcoran was coaching the
team. Normie said to me, “Come on out and play.” I played one game,
scored a goal and I said to myself, “What am I doing here? I have five
kids at home!” (laughs) By that time I was 38, going on 39.
Normie hadn’t played much
lacrosse. He was a hockey player. But he was shifty and he has pretty good
size too. He’s a good guy. I haven’t seen him for quite a while.
||What do you think of
the way the game is played today?
||I’m not a real enthusiast of the game now, the way they
run to the bench when the ball changes hands. You don’t get any fast
breaks. The fast break was what our line was built on.
And of course, we didn’t
have the 30-second clock. When they get the ball and run to change off,
that’s where they lose the fast break. It’s a heck of a lot easier
going two on two, or three on three than it is going five on five. When
you as an offensive player come off the bench, you are going up against a
stacked defense. And the nets are small, so the defense can back in.
It’s a different game
now. You see the pads they wear now, they’re virtually nothing because
you can’t hit. And we didn’t wear helmets and masks. A lot of the
players now are good shooters, but nobody is touching them. That was our
main thing…if a guy was winding up to shoot, hit him right across the
gloves. You can’t do that anymore.
You see these games now, 5
to 4, that’s not a lacrosse score! I always figured a good lacrosse
score was 13 – 9, 15 – 11, 15 – 12, something in that area.
When we played in 1946 the nets were 4’ 6” by 4’ 6”, then
they shrunk them to 4’ by 4’. It doesn’t sound like much but its 20
square feet. The juniors are still 4’ by 4’ but the pro league is 4’
9’ now. In junior you can’t even judge a goaltender anymore because
all he does is stand there.
The kids now, they pass the
ball. That wasn’t our game. Our game was beating the guy running,
running up the field, 2 on 2, break fast. I think our game was faster than
the game now. But not in the fifties and sixties, it was very, very slow.
That’s when the ball started to be the last thing up the floor.
When the ball comes up
first, then the defensive team has to run to get back. And now when they
get the ball, one guy stays back with the ball.
||Jimmy, who would you
say was the best player you saw play the game?
||I think number one would be Bill Isaacs.
Defensemen? I’d probably
say “Gus” Madsen. But when I played against “Gus” when I was with
Owen Sound, I didn’t have too much trouble with him. A name that might
surprise you as a defenseman, was a guy by the name of Lou Nickle. He was
a good, tough checker and a good guy. Not flashy but a good checker.
Fitzgerald was a good lacrosse player. He was good as a kid too. He played
on our team in ’46 when he was just 18 years old. He played as a fifth
defenseman but he still played.
||Thanks Jim for all
your interesting recollections from your outstanding lacrosse career.
"Senior Athletics are
hoping to boost their Haig Bowl lacrosse attendance tonight. The
hopes are based on the fact that Jimmy McMahon of the R. C. Navy
will be seen in his first game here since the days he played with
the Owen Sound Georgians. Since then, the younger brother of Jack
(Wandy) McMahon has graduated into one of the slickest stick
artists in the wide Dominion. He has not played since last season,
but is in prime condition."
The St. Catharines
Standard, June 23, 1945
Photo used to
create 1945 card courtesy of Jim McMahon