If you are to mention the word soccer in St. Lawrence and think of some of the countless soccer greats from the community, you may think of players such as Wils Molloy, Norm Kelly, Keith Farrell, Junior Edwards, Joe Turpin, Al Slaney and Frank Haskell. And no doubt there are many, many more.
When you mention ‘The Voice of St. Lawrence’ you automatically think of Don Turpin. When you consider a great ‘Laurentian’ to be in the ‘Builder’ category, the number one person that would come to mind is Len Slaney.
Len the Player
Len Slaney was born Aug. 20, 1946 in St Lawrence and has been involved with the sport of soccer for over 40 years. Growing up in St. Lawrence, Len did what most young boys did – he played soccer.
He originally began playing in the meadows and from there advanced to organized soccer at the high school level. He later played Junior and Senior Soccer with the Laurentians. He also played with the Memorial University of Newfoundland team.
Because of a injury, Len’s playing days only lasted from 1962 to 1967. Although during this period, he was a member of two provincial championship squads. He was a member of a High School Provincial Championship team in 1964 and an All-Newfoundland Laurentian championship team in 1966.
Len the Coach
After his playing days, Len immediately got involved with coaching. Actually, Len was the first coach I ever had, back in 1970.
During his years of coaching, he coached a total of 16 All-Newfoundland championship teams. He coached four Bantam titles, four Peewee titles, one Mosquito title, one Provincial All-Star title and six High School titles.
He also coached a Provincial All-Star team in 1967 to a tournament in Montreal, Quebec. In this tournament, the Newfoundland and Labrador entry had a three win, one loss record.
‘Laurentians’ Greatest Builder’
Although Len had a very impressive coaching career, I feel his greatest contribution to the game of soccer falls in the ‘Builder’ category. Personally, I think Len Slaney is the greatest builder any sport in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador has ever had. He is also the best the Laurentians has ever had.
He has served various associations at the local, regional and provincial levels. His involvement with the St. Lawrence Soccer Association stretches for more than 30 years where he has served as President, Vice President, Secretary, Hall of Fame Chairman, Irish Committee Chairman and Co-Chairman of the 1977 National Senior Men’s Championship in St. Lawrence.
Not only has he served at the top level, I’ve seen him do what one would consider ‘work in the trenches’ as well. I’ve witnessed him mop floors in the club’s dressing room, call bingo at the town recreation center and do general maintenance at Trophy Lounge. No job has ever been too big, or too small, for Len Slaney!
Len has served the Burin Peninsula Soccer Association for 20 years. During these years, he has served as Vice President, Chairman of Senior Soccer and Chairman of Hall of Fame Committee.
He has worked with the Newfoundland & Labrador Soccer Association for 15 years. With the NLSA, he served as Vice President, Southern Director, Challenge Cup Committee, Convenor of Tournaments and Advisor for the Provincial Hall of Fame.
At the National level, Len has been team representative and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Laurentians when competing for the National Challenge Cup competition in the following cities: Chilliwack, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Kitchener, New Minas, Saint John and Fredericton.
When Len attended the Nationals at Chilliwack in 1999, he even did the play-by-play of the Laurentians’ games over radio station CHCM when announcer Russ Murphy had to leave due to a family emergency.
Throughout the years, Len has not gone unrecognized for his efforts. Len Slaney was inducted into the St. Lawrence Soccer Hall of Fame in 1988. He was inducted into the Burin Peninsula Soccer Hall of Fame in 1989.
In 1999, Len was awarded ‘Executive of the Year’ Award by the Newfoundland Soccer Association. Also in 1999, Len Slaney was named ‘Executive of the Year’ for Sport Newfoundland & Labrador and was also inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Hall of Fame.
One Accolade Missing
Despite all of these honours, I feel there is one important accolade missing. Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s refusal to bestow upon Len an induction into Sport NL Hall of Fame. This is something I can never understand.
In past years when I was President of the St. Lawrence Soccer Association, and also when I was Chairman of the St. Lawrence Hall of Fame Committee, I nominated Len to the Sport NL Hall of Fame Selection Committee on three different occasions. Obviously, the Laurentians’ records of accomplishments, having won 20 Provincial Challenge Cup Championships since 1967 and having celebrated their 100th Anniversary in 2004, is just cause to see the success of this organization is just not coincidental.
These 20 Provincial Championships indeed were an honour, but St. Lawrence had to fundraise approximately $600,000 to attend the National Championships. Len Slaney has played a major role in these fundraising efforts. I do realize Sport NL has inducted two great Laurentians’ players (Wils Molloy and Norm Kelly) into their Hall of Fame.
However, I would like to think Sport NL selection committee will see this as an oversight and not a blatant injustice to a deserving individual. I feel Len Slaney has supported and promoted the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Town of St. Lawrence and the sport of soccer in an admirable way and is deserving of this accolade.
He is a ‘True Blue’ Laurentian.