Down Memory Lane - Team of the Century
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
Sports fans are an irrational collection of chattering know-it-alls.
Watch a game and the obstreperous fan instantly knows which player did the right thing (or wrong), or how the coach should have handled a specific situation, or perhaps what the referee missed.
The objectivity of the zealous enthusiast is truly tainted by subjectivity.
During these friendly debates, someone invariably will offer his or her pick as the perfect player who would have run circles around the young whippersnappers of today. Horse feathers, his companion would offer, it was old what's his name. It's a variation of the "my daddy can beat your daddy" argument. We never grow up; but, then, if we did, would we still be sports fans?
The arguments of who was the greatest of the greats begins:
- Could Tyson whip Clay? Was Clay better than Marciano or Louis? Could Louis have taken Dempsey?
- Was Conarcher a better hockey player than Richard? Could Richard skate circles around Howe? Was Howe greater than Gretszky?
- Could Ruth outpower Mantle? Was Mantle better than Aaron? Could Aaron swing a meaner bat than McGuire?
See what I mean?
But, what the heck! At the risk of igniting a conflict of comparisons within this wonderful world of lacrosse, let's ask this questions: Who would you pick as the six-man Team of the Century?
Box lacrosse replaced the field version as the lacrosse game of choice in the early 1930's and, since then, close to 6,000 players have participated at the Senior "A" Level in B.C. and Ontario. Most appeared in a mere handful of games, but some went on to enjoy long careers. There were many, many stars, but only a relatively few rose to the status of Superstar. Of them, who should be on the Team of the Century?
Oldtimers with their long memories intact might point to Alfie Davy, Jim Douglas, Bill Dickinson, Bill Morphett, Ray Baker or Harry Carter in the West. Ontario boasted Bill Anthony, Bill Isaacs, Gus Madsen, Roy Morton, Gordon Gair, Archie Dixon and Joe Cheevers. And then there were Ed Downey, Bill Wilson and Bill Wilkes who starred at both ends of the country.
Later, Whitey Severson, Archie Browning, Jack Bionda, Cliff Sepka and Paul Parnell shone in B.C. with Cy Coombes, Larry Ferguson, Bob Allan and Ross Powless illuminating the Eastern scene, Don Ashbee, Arnie Dugan and Ike Hildebrand starred both East and West.
Then came greats such as John Davis, Wayne Goss, Dave Durante, Gaylord Powless, Jim Wasson, Kevin Alexander, Geordie Dean, J.J. Johnston, Doug Hayes and Ron MacNeil. That brings us up to the present crop - John Tavares, the Gait brothers, Chris Gill, Tom Wreggitt, Troy Cordingley, the Kilgour brothers, Russ Heard, and well, add your favourite.
Every team, to be successful, needs the big goalscorer. Number senior sniper was Ron MacNeil with 1,060 goals in his 495-game career - an average of 2.14 goals a game. But look at some others - Tavares averages 2.50 a game, Kevin Alexander 1.65, Paul Gait 2.71, Gary Gait 3.15.
You might decide to mix in other attributes such as playmaking (Ranjit Dillon, Brian Evans, John Fusco), penalty killing (Bert Houston, Ken Crawford, the Wayne Goss-Ken Winzoski tandem), intensity (Roy Cavallin, Bill Chisholm, Curly Mason), stability (Arnie Ferguson, Eric Cowieson, Mike Reelie, Ted Howe, Blain McDonald), or leadership qualities (Arnie Dugan, Doug McRory, Joe Cheevers, John Cervi).
Goalies? Yes, don't forget those nuts who stand in front of hard-rubber missiles. You might consider Henry Baker, Walt Lee, Pete Anthony, through Stan Joseph, Don Hamilton, Bob McReady and Pat Baker up to today's Dallas Eliuk, Dwight Maetche, Dave Evans, Wayne Colley, Bill Gerrie ).
Got you thinking, eh? Come on now, make a withdrawal from your memory bank of past lacrosse seasons and pick your "Team of the Century". But let's be fair - there should be two teams, one representing the East and the other, the West. Then we can start another debate - which team could beat the other?