Monday, August 18, 2008

Early GPK Football Memories

Hello John, I just thought I would drop you a line as I have read your history of Greenfield Park and boy, does it ever bring back memories of life in the Park from the mid 1950’s. I think I can expand a little on the football scene.

I noted that you referred to Murray Penny going to Mayor Galletti’s house one evening and I was the accomplice on that trip. We needed sweaters for the bantam eight man football team that my younger brother Eric played on.

Murray and I went by bike to his home on Devonshire. He welcomed us and said he would look after the sweaters. Sure enough we received beautiful dark blue sweaters with white trim. Our season opener was at home against the LRA team from Longueuil and when they arrived you can guess guess what colours their sweaters were – dark blue with white trim.

The start of the game was delayed for about an hour as they had to send someone back to their dressing room to get sweaters from another Longueuil team.
That team, with my brother Eric was actually the second year of eight man football in the Park. The year before we had a team in bantam and it was sponsored by Ron Platt’s father who ran a television shop called Platt Electronics.

We had yellow and black sweaters and were coached by Chuck Kobelt who lived across the street from the Garretts at the corner of Empire and Hins. We lived in the ground floor on Hins and Red Drummond lived upstairs.

The only league rule was that you needed a helmet and shoulder pads. We had two helmets in our family and only one set of shoulder pads. As my older brother David, was a halfback and was being tackled regularly, he got the sturdiest helmet and I was center so I got the old soft leather helmet that I could fold up and put in my pocket after the game.

Keith Hollingdrake lent me some hockey shoulder pads that I would use for the season. As Ron Platt’s father sponsored the team, Ron was quarterback, my brother and Norm Gibson were halfbacks and at ends we had John Norman and George Williamson.

I remember our first game in St. Lambert against the CSA and we didn’t have our sweaters yet as delivery was delayed. They took pity on us and we wore the St. Lambert Combines practice sweaters and they also gave us the all proper hard plastic helmets. To top it off, we beat them on the last play of the game.

We also upset the league at our home opener that year as we had to put the lines on the paying field at Empire & Churchill. The most popular sport at the time was soccer so the field wasn't marked for football as as this was before the GPAA, we had to do it ourselves. We had a limited supply of the white powder so we did the sidelines, goal lines, 25 yard lines and 45 yard lines all the way across the field but all of the other lines at 5 yard intervals only extended out about 10 - 15 yards from the sidelines, making it impossible to call for a measurement if the ball was in the center of the field.

Hubert Dubois who was the lone official supplied by the league managed to overcome that restriction and the game went on after some discussions with the league. Thereafter, someone from the Town looked after marking the field.
After some of our away games, the next level up were the midget teams and they would play right after us.

Hubert Dubois, used to do both our games and the midget games and he would ask for volunteers to act as linesman and I started doing that for fun. The following year I was too old to play bantam and as there was no midget team in the Park I was recruited into refereeing football, something I did right through high school, the CA program at McGill and until several years after I was married.

My last years were for the Pop Warner league on the South Shore.
I've copied Normand Simard in case there is any interest in these ramblings on behalf of the blog and feel free to use/edit the above as you see fit.
All the best,


Thanks Keith and John Riley

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