Down Memory Lane - 1959 Mann Cup
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
"This is perhaps the greatest team the West has ever produced." And that, in a nutshell, was the observation of Canadian Lacrosse Association president Les Gilmore after the New Westminster O'Keefes whipped Peterborough Mercury's 4-0 in the 1959 Mann Cup series.
Even more succinct in his assessment of the Royal City club was Peterborough playing-coach Lloyd "Moon" Wootten.
"That 's the greatest team I ever player against," stated the fabled netminder. "They have everything. We make one mistake and there's a light on the scoreboard. Down the other end, they can make ten mistakes and they're good enough to cover up."
In the first game of the series, both clubs were like a couple of cats spitting and hissing all over the creaking confines of Queens Park Arena. The O'Keefes - actually the Salmonbellies concealed behind a sponsor's name - came out victorious. Led by Jack Bionda's four goals and three assists, New Westminster walked away with a 12-5 victory. Both clubs were assessed 36 minutes in penalties but , in the subsequent games, decided the overly rough stuff didn't produce goals.
O' Keefe's coach Jake Proctor diplomatically cautioned: "Peterborough is a better team then the score indicates."
Sure enough, Peterborough whipped in 11 goals behind Les Norman but, unfortunately for the Ontario boys, New Westminster blasted 18 past a shell-shocked Wootten.
Frustrated and down two games, Wootten fired himself as coach, stepping aside in favour of manager Ed Redmond.
"Back East, a guy could coach and play at the same time - and get away with it," explained Wootten. "But here, right now, it won't go.
He then added: "We can't seem to kill a penalty anymore. What's more we can't score when we have the odd man."
Peterborough, hobbled by injuries to three regulars, asked the CLA for permission to add Nanaimo's Skip MacKay to the East's lineup for Game Three. Rejected, Mercury's then wired Brampton's Wayne Thompson in hopes of recruiting him: but he was not available.
Nevertheless, Peterborough came out like a whirlwind on the way to a 9-6 lead with 25 minutes left in Game Three. Then the wind stagnated into dead calm, allowing New Westminster to register eight unanswered goals for a 14-9 victory.
In Game Four, both clubs battled through the first three quarters with O' Keefes clutching a 6-3 advantage with 15 minutes remaining. Once again, the Easterners wilted under the Royal City onslaught, finally succumbing 13-4.
It was Wootten's eighth Mann Cup tournament, five of them successful, following the series, he said: "That's it for me. I'm going to stick to coaching from now on." Then, pointing to O'Keefes' rookie netminder, he added: "The kid Norman is some goalie. He'll be getting the name I've had for some years."
Fourteen players involved in the series, seven form each team, would eventually be inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame - Moon Wootten Larry Ferguson, Cy Coombes, Paul Parnell, Bob Allan, Lou Nickle and Curly Mason from Peterborough and Les Norman Jack Bionda, Cliff Sepka, Jack Barclay, Doug McRory, Jack Byford and Mario Crema from New Westminster.
|Les Norman (NW)||4||240||160||131||29||81.88|
|Moon Wootten (P)||4||240||185||128||57||69.20|