Down Memory Lane - 1964 Vancouver Carlings
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington

They were a confident bunch of athletes, not cocky, but very confident -- after all, they were the defending Canadian senior lacrosse champions.

The year was 1964 and the Vancouver Carlings -- the old Vancouver Burrards now operating under the Carlings' sponsorship banner -- had just captured the Inter-City Lacrosse League with 23 wins in 32 games.

After vanquishing New Westminster in the B.C. finals, Carlings flew East to defend its Mann Cup title against the Brooklin Redmen of Ontario. It wouldn't be easy winning in the Eastern venue, after all, only two other Western teams had managed it. But, what the heck, Carlings was the defender and the players were determined to keep the crown.

Lacrosse historians have since described the 1964 best-of-seven championship as a classic.

Vancouver could have bolstered its strength by adding a couple of league all-stars to its roster, but declined. On the other hand, Brooklin stacked its team with eight of Ontario's best -- Bob Allan, Cy Coombes and Larry Ferguson from Peterborough, Don Arthurs and Jack Madgett from Brampton, Ron Roy and Gary Moore from St. Catharines, and Paul Henderson from Port Credit.

All but one game were to be played in the tiny confines of the Whitby Arena; the third series' match was scheduled for Peterborough.

With Roy and Allan leading the attack with three-goal hattricks, Brooklin captured the first game 10-8. Then, two days later, Vancouver again fell short 11-7 in Game Two.

Not to worry! In stepped the most improbable hero imaginable in the form of the loquacious, happy-go-lucky Ron Hemmerling. With Ron in the lineup for the third game -- work commitments had delayed his trip East -- Vancouver played loose as a goose in the Peterborough Arena for a 9-5 decision.

Back in Whitby the following night, Vancouver dropped a hard-fought 14-10 battle despite three goals by Hemmerling, only his third hattrick in his 243-game senior career. One media observer suggested Vancouver had imported a "ringer;" of course, Hemmerling wholeheartedly agreed.

The fifth game, played September 21, saw Fred Usselman blast five goals behind goalie Pat Baker to lead Vancouver to a 13-10 win. Sandwiches purchased by the Brooklin executive for a victory party were given to the underprivileged and the champagne was placed back on ice for a Mann Cup celebration that never came.

The next game, the sixth of the series, was an ulcer-maker. With less than a minute remaining and Vancouver leading 12-10, Brooklin fired in two quick shots behind Carlings netminder Norm Nestman. The roar of the crowd was deafening in the tiny Whitby Arena. Finally, everyone settled down to await an overtime period; but, with just 13 seconds left in regulation time, Usselman won a faceoff and quickly flipped a pass to Gordie Gimple, who calmly converted it into a 13-12 victory.

The seventh game was anti-climatic. Vancouver went down 4-1 after the first 15-minute period but, with Hemmerling still chattering non-stop and opening the second stanza with a picture goal, Vancouver went on to capture the game -- and the Canadian title -- 10-5.

It was the first time in Mann Cup history that a team, down three-to-one in games, made the comeback victory by taking the final three games.

Fourteen members of the 1964 Carlings club subsequently were inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame -- John Cervi, Bob Marsh, Bill Chisholm, Bob Babcock, Peter Black, Alex Carey, Gord Gimple, Fred Usselman, Bob Parry, Sid Warick, Gary Stevens, Merv Schweitzer, Bill Barbour, and Gord Frederickson. In addition, six team executives had been inducted into the Hall's "Builders" category -- president Bill Ellison, manager Jack McKinnon, Vice-president Jake MacGregor, trainer Lou Moro, team doctor T.S. Perett, and secretary-treasurer Stan Shillington.

The Lacrosse Hall of Fame honoured the 1961 to 1967 Vancouver organization in 1999 for capturing four Mann Cups in five national finals in seven years. In April, 2005, the 1964 Vancouver Carlings will be inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.