History of the A's
Jimmy McMahon Goes To The Hall Of Fame
by Jim Wallace
The St. Catharines
Friday July 13, 2001
St. Catharines -- Jim McMahon didn't think it was anything special, growing up in St. Catharines and playing lacrosse in the 1920s and 1930s. It was just something everybody did. At the time he played midget, juvenile and junior in the same year and went on to a storied career as a player and official, McMahon didn't foresee being named to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame this year. "It was a different type of living at that time," he recalled of growing up with brother Jack (Wandy), who is also a Hall of Fame member. "This is what you did. Nobody had a lot of money, so we played sports and it kept us out of trouble."
McMahon, who turns 79 three days before the Nov.3 induction ceremony, remembers there wasn't much of a minor system in St. Catharines in the pre-Second World War days, but this city churned out its share of star players. "We had to wait until we were 13 (before playing organized lacrosse)," he recalled. "Now they're five, six or seven years old. But we had a good minor system here in the 1930s; I started midget in 1936." Sixty-five years later, McMahon doesn't watch too much lacrosse ("I'm tempted to go out but I live on the other side of town and I do have a little problem with night driving"). "I was in it for a long time; I played, refereed and coached a little minor lacrosse too. I had a little run."
His "little run" continued in the 1939-40 season when he played a couple of years of junior A and ended 20 years later in Welland, with a year off for the Second World War. "I missed out on my junior year because of the war, but in 1939 we had three junior teams, four midget teams and four juvenile teams in St. Catharines. "I played midget, junior and juvenile all in one year -- I was young enough to be able to do that."
During his playing career, he was part of Ontario Lacrosse Association championship teams in 1945 and 1958 and played for the St. Catharines Mann Cup champions in 1946. The highlight, of course, was the Mann Cup win which he shared with his late brother as a teammate. "We had a younger line and an older line. The young line was Bill Nelson, Stu Scott, Pat Smith and me; the older line was Roy (Pung) Morton, Joe Cheevers, George Urquhart and my brother Wandy. We had a good mix; most people thought we were 18 or 19, but we were a few years older than that because of the service." But he wasn't finished when he hung up his stick.
McMahon, who retired from Thompson Products (now TRW Canada) 14 years ago, coached at the minor level for many years and turned his sights to officiating and refereed two Mann Cup games in the 1960s. He was also referee in chief of the North American League from 1968 to 1971.
"I didn't mind the refereeing part of of it," he replied when asked is he preferred playing or officiating. "I refereed over the river when I was 47, running around with 18- and 19-year-olds." McMahon still stays heavily involved with the St. Catharines Old Boys and can be found at the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame most Thursday mornings, along with Pat Smith, still giving his time to the sport he loves. "We're the ambassadors, we kind of greet people. We don't push them; if they seem interested we give them a little more information. There's a little shooting area there. We can show the kids how to throw the ball around a little bit."
McMahon will be joined in the players category by Bob Burke of Brampton. The late Frank (Geezil) Madsen of St. Catharines will be inducted into the veteran players division and Oliver (Cap) Bomberry of Ohsweken will go in as a builder. Mike French, formerly of Niagara-on-the-Lake, will be inducted in the field lacrosse division while the 1978 Canadian world field lacrosse team is also joining. In Western Canada selections, Jimmy (Peewee) Bradshaw, formerly of St. Catharines, will be inducted as a player.
THE SCOOP: JIM McMAHON FILE
Born: Oct. 31, 1922, in St. Catharines.
Sport: Box lacrosse.
Teams: 1939-40, St. Catharines Athletics junior A; 1941, St. Catharines CYO senior B; 1942, Owen Sound Georgians senior A; 1944, Vancouver Navy senior A; 1945-54, St.Catharines Athletics senior A, 1955, Hamilton Tigers senior A; 1957-57, Tuscarora senior B; 1958-59, Welland Switsons senior A.
Accomplishments: 1945, OLA senior A champions; 1946, OLA senior A and Mann Cup champions; 1958, OLA senior A champions.
Miscellaneous: McMahon also refereed two Mann Cup games in the 1960s and was referee-in-chief of the North American League from 1968-71.
Other inductees: Bob Burke, Brampton; Frank (Geezil) Madsen, St.Catharines, veteran player; Oliver (Cap) Bomberry, Ohsweken, builder; Mike French, Niagara-on-the-Lake, field lacrosse player; 1978 Canadian field lacrosse team.
related reading: An Interview With Jim McMahon