Profile Of Stan Shillington
A Passion For Numbers, Lacrosse
By Sharie Epp: Times Colonist
Photo By Deddeda Stemler
Monday September 08, 2003
PORT VICTORIA -- Stan Shillington loves to play the numbers. He keeps them in stacks of boxes in his basement, and has used them to record the history of lacrosse since 1953.
"I guess it's a fetish, I don't know," Shillington said, laughing about his passionate pastime keeping statistics of his favourite sport. "It's just a love affair with the game. I never seem to get away from it."
Shillington was at Archie Browning Sports Centre on Saturday scorekeeping his 111th Mann Cup game, which was won 14-10 by the Victoria Shamrocks. Victoria now leads the Brampton Excelsiors two games to none in the best-of-seven championship, which continues tonight with Game 3, starting at 8 p.m.
Overall, Saturday's game was the 953rd senior men's game where Shillington has sat in the scorer's booth, tracking shots, goals, assists, and penalties.
"That only proves one thing -- that I'm old," said the 68- year-old from Coquitlam, who has spent 51 years involved in lacrosse, as an administrator, coach, manager, statistician, and historian.
Shillington was a teenager when he started with stats. He had to quit playing junior lacrosse to take a job as a night copy boy at the Vancouver Sun, and got creative trying to supplement his weekly income of $24.25. First he did one-paragraph game reports on minor and junior lacrosse games, then started adding league stats every couple of weeks.
"I figured I was making pretty good extra money," he said. "I made $200 that summer at 25 cents an inch."
"It got me hooked on statistics."
Eventually, Shillington was spending from midnight (when his official shift ended) to 5 a.m. poring over microfilm in the Sun library, searching for missing records of Vancouver's Inner City Senior Lacrosse League. In his basement, he has every league score sheet since 1933, as well as books, memorabilia, and filing cabinets filled with old stories.
It's a hobby that has endured through 21 years as a Sun police reporter, and another 21 as an information officer then researcher with the Joint Coordinated Law Enforcement Unit. He's been retired for eight years, but still pens his Down Memory Lane articles for the Internet. One of his favourites is travelling back East with the Vancouver Carlings to play the Brooklin Merchants in the '64 Mann Cup.
Two thousand fans squeezed into a tiny Whitby arena designed for 800, then the series moved to Peterborough for Game 3. The venue was bigger, but surrounded by white boards. Worried about being able to see the white lacrosse ball, Shillington and Carlings coach Jack McKinnon took advantage of a rule stating the balls could be coloured orange.They bought yellow paint (getting the paint store to stamp the can orange), proceeded to coat four dozen balls, hanging them up on clotheslines to dry. The Carlings went on to win the Cup in seven games, and Brooklin, which led the series 3-1 at one point, returned their victory champagne and gave away their celebration banquet three times."It cost them a lot of money," Shillington said. "At least the poor people got plenty to eat."
Another time, Peterborough came to Victoria to vie for the Cup in 1957, bringing along star player Bobby Allan. The problem was Allan, who lived in Peterborough, remained the property of the defending champion Nanaimo Timbermen. The Canadian Lacrosse Association refused to allow him to play, the Eastern team wouldn't play without him, and wound up paying their own way back home.
The Shamrocks won the Cup, defeating their eventual competitor, the Long Branch Pontiacs.
The vignettes go on and on, a half-century's worth of fact, figures, and trivia, carefully compiled by a man who couldn't stand to let history slip away.
"This is Canada's summer game, and no one else did it."