Sometimes they shoot heroes

Allan Fotheringham July 6 1987

Sometimes they shoot heroes

Allan Fotheringham July 6 1987

Sometimes they shoot heroes


Allan Fotheringham

So the Alouettes have folded. There is little hope for humanity when these guys muck around with my memories. Some things are inviolate. An old jock’s sensibilities are one of those things. Toy with my memories and you’re touching on valuable territory. Sam Etcheverry and Hal Patterson and Chuck Hunsinger and the rest. We’re talking delicate past here.

The guy to blame, if you really want to know, is Jean Drapeau, who always dangled the temptation of an NFL franchise before fickle Montreal fans to go along with his concept of a world-class city that needed the best football to go along with the Olympics and Expo and the subway and the rest (never mind the lack of indoor plumbing or bathtubs). A dreamer of dreams, he has stepped on one of mine.

B.C. Lions had this raging halfback named AÍ Pollard. He kicked, ran back punts, did everything but sell peanuts in the stands. He was, like, the franchise. He was handsome. He was also full of himself. One Saturday night he came steaming around right end, right in front of all the expensive seats at Empire Stadium, on a collision course with Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Bobby Marlow—out of Alabama, taciturn, ill-paid, as were all of the Regina players. Pollard, full of himself, went into Marlow with his head up, rather than his head down where it should have been. The explosion ranked seven on the Richter scale. Pollard, from that moment, was never the same player. Marlow continued being Marlow.

Tobin Rote used to sit in the beer parlor all day and then come out on the field, and on one such day completed 38 passes for the Toronto Argonauts. I was there the night Bob McNamara, who was out of Minnesota, I believe, scored six touchdowns for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are now—thanks to Drapeau—in the Eastern Division. Is there any hope for the nation? Winnipeg being declared part of Central Can-

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.

ada? God save us.

When sulking and pouting Vancouver was finally accepted into the CFL (thus making Canada a complete country for the first time since the railway hit the Pacific), the Edmonton Eskimos came to town. On the very first play from scrimmage, quarterback Bernie Faloney (later somewhat known in Hamilton) scrunched up behind his centre— who then snapped the ball right through his legs into the waiting hands of one Jackie Parker, who then flang the thing to a wide-open receiver who went 70 yards for a TD. The poor Lions

looked like sandlot football refugees. It was a cruel introduction to the world.

Johnny Bright, out of Drake University, one of the first black stars, achieved fame when Life magazine captured on film a white lout out of Oklahoma purposely breaking his jaw with a smash instead of tackling him. I believe it was the 1956 Grey Cup (would that have been the 50-27 win, Maggie?) when Bright, of the Eskimos, drove for the TD and an Alouette back by name of J.C. Caroline attempted to intrude. In the dressing room after the game, the cloth from Bright’s knee (this was in the eons before face masks, ducky) was still embedded in Caroline’s forehead.

Regina always had these ill-paid, quiet guys. Frank Tripucka, the quarterback out of Notre Dame, now has a son, Kelly, who is a star in the NBA (that would be the National Basketball Association, Mabel.) Hugh Campbell, now general manager of the Eskimos, couldn’t run, couldn’t jump, but as Gluey Hughie—the sneakiest push-off

artist in the league—set pass-catching records. Rex Macleod of The Toronto Star, the day of the 1964 Grey Cup, wrote a line I still envy. “Willie Fleming, running the way Max Bentley used to skate. . . .”

Annis Stukus used to kick field goals for Edmonton without a helmet, wearing his wristwatch. When he came to Vancouver to coach the franchise, he brought along a 155-lb. linebacker called Tiger Kozak whose main achievement, at midnight on Saturdays, was to challenge sportswriters to 50-yard sprinting contests down the middle of Seymour Street outside a strip joint.

Joe Kapp, the only man ever to play in the Rose Bowl, the Grey Cup and the Super Bowl, came to the Lions from Calgary, where he had wrecked his knees with his reckless running, bearing a large scar on his cheek coming from a broken beer glass wielded as a weapon in a pub brawl. He was recently sacked as coach at the University of California.

Ed Vereb was possibly the finest halfback I’ve

0 ever seen. Normie Kwong

1 is now the finest afterg dinner stand-up comedian “ in the land. A fine man

named Slim Delbridge, who used to be Pierre Berton’s boss at the Vancouver News-Herald, knew nothing about football but he knew how to manage men, and, as president, gave the Lions their first Grey Cup. I once asked him something about the Lions’ office. “Never been there,” he said. When he wanted to talk to the general manager, Herb Capozzi, or the coach, Dave Skrien, he crooked his finger and they came to him.

Yes, of course I remember Hunsinger’s goofy lateral that Parker ran the length of the field for the ’54 win. Yes, of course Parker was the best player I’ve ever seen. Arnie Galiffa could throw a ball harder than anyone I’ve ever seen (so hard his receivers couldn’t catch it; he should have tried baseball). Tom Brown, the finest 230lb. linebacker ever, could do backflips. Angelo Mosca, the bum, did hit Willie late that time.

Tread lightly, youse guys, on my dreams, for you tread on my heart.