The Story of Soccer in Canada
Contains Illustrations, Index
Glynn A. Leyshon is a professor of physical education at the University
of Western Ontario, a former weekly columnist for the London Free Press
and author of 18 Sporting Stories.
This thin, soft-covered volume was written by soccer buffs Bill Rannie and Colin Jose. Despite his name, Jose is a Scot who immigrated to Canada in 1957 and has been closely associated with the Canadian Soccer Association as, among other duties, its press officer.
While the writing of the book was a labour of love, the arranging of the material was eclectic. Where does one begin such a topic? How does one establish priorities? To their credit, the authors make a good portion of the book interesting, but the rest is for rabid fans, trivia specialists, and record keepers.
In the 14 short chapters, Jose and Rannie cover the birth of soccer in Canada and describe, briefly, several of the tours made by national teams to England, Australia, Russia, and Europe as well as paying special tribute to outstanding builders and players of the game from the 1800s to the present day. A brief account of the Galt football club’s gold medal performance in the 1904 Olympics is also included and is contrasted with a noble but losing effort in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal 72 years later.
All of the embryonic soccer leagues in Canada began in the hands of expatriates from the British Isles in the late 1800s or early 1900s. This British tradition has slowly given way to an influx from other countries until now the surnames range through all of central-south Europe. These immigrants probably provided the contacts for the arranging of tours of Europe and the reciprocal tours of Canada.
For the uninitiated, the line between professional and amateur, so clearly defined in almost all other sports, is somewhat blurry in soccer. This book, unfortunately, does not help to differentiate between the two states. The selection of an international team, an Olympic team, or any other team is not adequately explained; apparently, in some instances both professionals and amateurs may play together on the same team.
The name David Forsyth arises several times in the book, and 13 pages of appendices I and II are devoted to this player, coach, and administrator of the game from Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario. To the buff, the coaching advice of the “Father of Soccer in Canada” for the playing of all positions (found in Appendix II) must surely be a gold mine. It was written in 1891 as probably the first coaching manual of the sport in Canada, and much of what is written is applicable even today in the world’s most popular sport.
The thorough entrenchment of soccer in Canada shines through in the short account of the 1981 Centennial of Soccer. At this time, $212 was collected and placed in a bank account, the money to accumulate sufficient to cover the bicentennial celebration of soccer in 2081. It is estimated that $445 million will have accrued by then, so the celebration should be of some significance! This certainly is a long-term commitment to the sport.
This book should find ready shelf space with the sport historian and soccer enthusiast.