History of the A's

 
 

Athletics Again Play For The Mann Cup

 
 

A’s IN GOOD SHAPE 

The St. Catharines Standard 

Tuesday September 17, 1963

CORNWALL – St. Catharines Athletics, Eastern Canada senior lacrosse champions, held a 90 minute workout at the Cornwall Arena last night in preparation for the opening game of the Mann Cup finals tonight against Vancouver. 

Handling the St. Catharines team was playing coach Jim McNulty. 

“The board floor was something new for most of the players but I don’t think it will be a real handicap,” said McNulty. 

Practicing with the A’s were five players they picked up for the series: Brian Aherne of Port Credit, Bill Castator and Bruce Wanless of Brampton, Glenn Lotton and Cy Coombs of Brooklin. 

The only absentees were Wally Thorne and Pete Berge, both unable to leave their places of employment in St. Catharines. However, they are expected to join the Athletics for the Saturday and Sunday afternoon games. 

Second game of the series will be played Thursday night.

THROUGH THE SPORTS GATE 

By JACK GATECLIFF, SPORTS EDITOR 

The St. Catharines Standard 

September 17, 1963 

One malady which won’t affect the St. Catharines Athletics when they open the Mann Cup finals in Cornwall tonight is overconfidence. 

As a matter of fact few would blame the club if they suffered from an extreme inferiority complex as it faces the vaunted power of the west represented by Vancouver. 

“Everywhere we go we hear the same thing,” said Athletics manager Joe McNulty before leaving this morning for the site of the best-of-seven series. “People congratulate you for winning the Ontario championship, they say that even if we don’t win a game against Vancouver we’ll have had a good year. Well we’re not thinking that way at all. If we didn’t think we had a real chance we wouldn’t bother going.” 

McNulty isn’t talking that way just to buoy his own spirits and those of his team. 

He honestly believes that the A’s will give a good account of themselves and we are inclined to agree. 

They have sound goaltending, at least as much experience as the western champions and with the addition of Bill Castator and Bruce Wanless of Brampton, Glenn Lotton and Cy Coombs of Brooklin, Brian Aherne of Port Credit, the Athletics boast the best possible senior club for Eastern Canada. 

What may escape lacrosse observers in both the East and West is that it wasn’t so long ago that an Ontario team won the Mann Cup. 

In fact you only have to go back three years…to 1960 to find a shield bearing the name Port Credit on the $30,000 (approximate value) trophy. 

In 1960 Victoria Shamrocks came into the east with just as much ballyhoo as the present Vancouver club. And included on the Victoria roster was the player considered by many to be the best in the game today, Jack Bionda. 

Despite Bionda’s presence, Port Credit won that best-of-seven series 4-2 and the Sailors that year weren’t, in our opinion at least, as strong or well balanced as the 1963 Athletics. 

Bionda, who is reported to draw a large (for lacrosse) salary of $5,000 in New Westminster this year, naturally won’t be with the westerners this trip as his club lost to Vancouver by a 4-2 margin in games in the British Columbia final. 

Incidentally, that $5,000 is more than double the budget which carried the entire St. Catharines team during its 24 game schedule and 11 playoffs this year. 

Although it’s been 17 years since a St. Catharines-based team reached the Canadian senior finals, trips to Cornwall by local lacrosse clubs are almost commonplace. 

And if it will help the Athletics morale any, they have an undefeated record in that city. 

In 1932, the year junior field lacrosse was changed to box lacrosse across the country (the seniors switched in 1931); Bill Hope Sr. coached the Athletics to the OLA two game, goals-to-count series with Cornwall. 

“Hopey,” who has a remarkable memory for dates and scores, recalled this week that the junior A’s played to a tie in Cornwall, then won the return game of the goals-to-count series 15-3 in Burlington. St. Catharines in 1932 had no arena and inadequate outside lacrosse facilities. (Mr Hope’s memory is so good he remembered that two of the cars taking the team to Cornwall were called “Hups”…which could be the old Hupmobile…and that the club stayed over in Kingston the first day out of St. Catharines, then went the rest of the way the next day.) 

In 1934 under the direction of Marty Cahill the juniors with fundamentally the same team which four years later started bringing this city quantities of senior championships, won the first game of the finals here at Haig Bowl. 

Ties must have been in style at the time because the A’s played to a draw in Cornwall but took the series on total goals. 

Two years later the Athletics juniors again won decisively in Cornwall and in 1938 the seniors were halfway to the Mann Cup after trimming the Cornwall club both at home and away. 

But enough of the past. What of the immediate future? 

The Athletics go into tonight’s game with a string of seven straight playoff victories behind them. However, these wins were in Ontario where, admittedly, the opposition is inferior to what they’ll meet in the Mann Cup. 

On the other hand the addition of five outstanding players from the other three Ontario teams should give them the bench ballast needed to stay with the quick-passing and fast-running team from west of the Rockies. 

We’re not rash enough to predict a Mann Cup for St. Catharines but we didn’t ascribe to the all-too-prevalent belief that the A’s will be outclassed.  

We’ve watched this team all season, during the games they were sharp and games they could do little right. They’ve got tremendous spirit at the moment and anything they accomplish from here in will be on sheer effort. 

You can’t ask more than that.

THROUGH THE SPORTS GATE 

By JACK GATECLIFF, SPORTS EDITOR 

The St. Catharines Standard 

September 28, 1963 

Defeated, tired, almost broke but far from disgraced, St. Catharines Athletics made the seven-hour motor trip back from Cornwall Friday. 

The A’s could be compared with the guest who came for a weekend and simply refused to leave. 

Few people (this reporter included) felt that the series would go longer than the minimum four games. In fact even the hard-working Mann Cup committee in Cornwall was so awed by the reputation of the Western Canada Champions that all the signs advertising the senior lacrosse finals listed only the first four dates. 

The Mann Cup was polished up and ready for presentation at the fourth game last Sunday. Vancouver, as has been pointed out earlier, had already booked their flight out of Dorval for the following day. The Cornwall arena had even scheduled wrestling matches for Tuesday night. However, the Athletics forced a revision of plans by winning Sunday and Tuesday before finally capitulating to the well-conditioned Vancouver club Thursday. 

Although they lost the series 4-2, the Athletics did much for lacrosse, not only in Cornwall, but across the country. 

It may sound cornball but this is a team and management which acted like gentlemen not only when they won (which is easy) but when they lost. “It’s a strange thing,” said Wally Cattell of Dundas after hearing the unsavoury comments from the Vancouver club after they lost the Sunday game. “When the Athletics lost the first three games they didn’t complain once about the officiating. One defeat to Vancouver and we’re threatened with their withdrawal from the series.” 

And before going on we should point out that any complaints about the officiating were pure, unadulterated nonsense. 

Bill (Whitey) Frick of this city who worked all six games, Boyd Bockwell of Orillia who handled the first four and Gord Hammond of Port Credit who moved in for the last two turned in as nearly flawless a job as is humanly possible. They called the game strictly and according to Canadian Lacrosse Association rules. There was absolutely no reason for the tantrums which came out of the Vancouver camp after the fourth and fifth game. 

Spectators are usually the first to take exception to the referees. Proof of how well they were received was evidenced when Frick and Hammond ran onto the floor Thursday night they were greeted with spontaneous applause…a rare tribute to an official in any sport. 

The controversy over the officials was not without its humorous side. When Hammond was told Vancouver wouldn’t go on the floor if he was refereeing he promptly replied: “I’ll show them. If they come on the floor I won’t referee.” 

As things turned out Vancouver did appear, Hammond did referee and what could have been a serious black eye for lacrosse was averted. 

It should be pointed out here that the longer the finals continued the more money it cost each member of the St. Catharines team. Thanks to a generous contribution from the City of St. Catharines and several other donations from business firms and private individuals the Athletics had their expenses taken care of during the almost two weeks they were away from home. However almost all the players…and the much maligned referees lost 10 days pay. This cannot be taken lightly when you consider that most of those concerned are on hourly rates and supporting young families. 

So the next time anyone tells you that the days of the dedicated amateur athlete are over keep the Athletics in mind. They were worthy representatives of our sports-minded city.

RETURN