Coach's Corner

Chasing a Dream

Southern Gazette Oct. 02. 2007

By Gord Dunphy

gorddunphy@email.com


Chasing a Dream

St. Lawrence is a community that has spent over 100 years playing soccer and 40 years chasing a dream.

That dream is for the Laurentians to win the National Senior Men’s Challenge Cup. Again this season, it’s the Laurentians who are going to the Nationals in Halifax, Nova Scotia to try and capture this prestigious award for an unprecedented 23rd time.

1967 -2007

Competing for the National Challenge Cup first started in 1967 when Newfoundland entered National Competition and were represented by their Provincial Champions – the St. Lawrence Laurentians. In 1967 the Laurentians had a very strong team with a number of provincial all-stars plus a very strong supporting cast.

Their squad included the following players: Wils Molloy, Norm Kelly, Reg Farrell, Keith Farrell, Carl Farrell, Ray Farrell, Hugh Tarrant, Frank Tobin, Cyril Quirke, Brendan Slaney, Gerald (Moose) Fitzpatrick, Keith Walsh, Jerome Slaney, Carl Ferrie, Ray Slaney and their all-star goalkeepers Bob Slaney and Mike Quirke.

That year the Laurentians went to Ontario, where they played for the first time in a stadium under lights. They lost to Toronto by a very respectable 3-2 score. Norm Kelly and Wils Molloy were the goal scorers for St. Lawrence.

Close, but no cigars

Since St. Lawrence’s inaugural year of competing at the Nationals, the Laurentians have come close on a number of occasions. The Laurentians have accumulated a total of four medals – three silver and one bronze.

Their silver medals came in Calgary in 1975, St. Lawrence in 1977 and in St. John’s in 2002. A bronze medal was awarded in to the Laurentians in Chilliwack, British Columbia in 1999.

A very inspiring record but I can assure you it’s ‘Gold’ the Laurentians are seeking in 2007. But as one would expect, winning gold won’t come easy in 2007 either.

In the Laurentians’ opening game they will face the Calgary Callies from Alberta. This squad is presently ranked with the best in the country. The Callies have a 104-year soccer history.

In the last nine seasons, the Callies have represented Alberta seven years. They won gold medals in 1999 and in 2003. The Laurentians’ Mike Howlett played on both of these gold medal teams.

Last year in Surrey, British Columbia, the Callies again won silver. This season Calgary brings an amazing record of 14 wins, 1 loss, and 3 ties. They scored 48 goals and allowed 20 goals against. This is certainly very impressive.

Game 2 - St. Lawrence vs. Quebec

In game two, St. Lawrence will line up against Quebec. Again this season it’s the Panellinious from Montreal, despite the fact they lost five players in July for a period of one year when they were suspended by the Quebec Soccer Federation. Four of the suspended players were starters.

The players were suspended because they refused to obey a federation rule that forbids them from playing in the African Soccer League. This league has 17 teams, and the Haitian League has eight teams, a practice that has been tolerated for many years.

However, the Quebec Soccer Federation waited until mid July, which was half way through the Provincial Championship, to suspend the players. But through all this adversity, the Panellinious club, bolstered by reserves and playing inspired soccer, won the Quebec Cup and therefore won the right to go to the Nationals for an extraordinary five out of the last six years.

So it’s quite obvious the Laurentians may have caught a break here with the loss of the five players from Quebec but when you are playing any team that comes out of Quebec, you’d better be prepared.

Game 3 & 4 – New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island

Next for the Laurentians is what one would consider the easiest part of the schedule. In Game 3, St. Lawrence will play New Brunswick, while in Game 4, the Laurentians will play Prince Edward Island. These are two teams St. Lawrence must defeat.

However, the outcome here may very well depend on the results of the Laurentians first two contests. You never know with the right breaks and a bit of luck, you never know what may happen in a tournament.

I’m sure all Laurentians’ supporters would like a National Championship but in the end it’s ‘the effort that the Laurentians will bring to this tournament that will win the hearts of all’.

St. Lawrence - Good Luck!

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Gord Dunphy is a former Challenge Cup 1990s All-Star coach of the St. Lawrence Laurentians and National Bronze Medallist. He can be reached by e-mail at ‘gorddunphy@email.com’