This was likely the first time Robert Fulford's byline (as "Bob Fulford") appeared in The Globe and Mail. Years later he wrote:
People who know about my lack of athletic talent, and also know that I can seldom be persuaded to watch even five minutes of a hockey game on television, tend to greet with slack-jawed wonder the news that my first job in the newspaper business was writing sports. [...] Admittedly, I had to cover school football and all the other obscure sports that everyone else was too important to write about -- lacrosse, table tennis, sailing, even lawn bowling. But if writing is defined minimally, as the preparation of acceptable sentences and paragraphs for publication, then I was learning to write just about as fast as I could type.
[Best Seat in the House, pp. 26, 29.]
Like most good football coaches, Humberside's Jack Griffiths is a pessimistic man. But he couldn't help feeling a little elated when he saw the material that turned out to his first practice last week.
If ever a TSSAA team looked like a title-winner in pre-play ratings, it's this season's hot HCI squad. Adding to the brilliance of four terrific first-stringers from last semester is a whole generation of players up from the championship junior team of last year. A star-studded group, it has won three city crowns in as many years.
High-flying Tommy Bird, all-star halfback in 1948, when Humberside snatched both junior and senior titles, is the only backfield holdover, but he'll be helped by such top-notch players as Bud Obal and Don Hart at the quarter spot, Bob Pinkney as running half, and John Tolton, a good plunger.
Wingline-wise, Griffiths couldn't be in much better shape and still be allowed to stay in the league. Tackles Mike Newedluk and Ray Middleton, along with end Don Peace, were with last year's team; outsides Gene Chorestecki and Wally Wildman have graduated, with honors, from junior ranks. Besides that, there'll be a large number of lesser but still-bright lights to add depth.
Good as they are, though, the Humbersides aren't counting on easy victory. "They're really working at the practices," says Coach Griffiths, "but you never can tell. Anything can happen."
Over at Lawrence Park the defending champions are putting together an almost entirely new team under mentor Stu Scott. Five men came back from last year, two of them from the first string. Bob Dale, the running half who made most of those big gains in the final game, and flying wing Phil Bird, are the two stars still with them, but they've also got Bob Lingley, quarter; John McCutcheon, a half, and Al Topping, a good middle.
Juniors moving up include Blair Livingstone, an all-star two years ago, but academically ineligible last season, Bill MacFarlane, Aldie White and Ian Miller. But Stu isn't too happy about the whole thing.
"It was just a wonderful team spirit and a terrific desire to win that won us the championship, and what we do this season will depend upon those qualities. Physically, I think we're not as strong as last year", Scott says. The new field they built on the LCPI grounds might prove to be a harmful luxury. The Parkers were forced to run a mile each way for practices last year, and that accounted for a lot of conditioning.
That hard luck guy, Bing Caswell of Bloor, will make a third try this year. In two seasons of coaching the small west end school, he's reached the finals both times, and lost out by less than five points on each occasion. He had five all-stars aboard last year, but they're all gone now, four of them to college and the fifth to the ranks of the academically ineligible.
Caswell, who says that championship high school clubs are built on fifth formers who fail a few subjects, come back to school, and have lots of time for sports, relates that Dick Aoki, Morley Safer, and Harvey Cooper are the three back-fielders left over, while Roman Boreth is the only lineman. But there's help in sight from the junior section, mainly in the persons of 250-pound tackle Ken Gray, all-star quarter Frankie Palermo, and flying wing George Manak. Comments Caswell: "Our backfield is fast, but our line's not big."
Ken Lobb, who's in his sixth coaching season at Oakwood, says he has nobody like Eric Jones, the wonderful guard who sparked a 1947 team to the city title and an unscored-upon record, but "we've got some mighty fine boys we're trying to make into football players." Oakwood will probably field a pretty fair team. As long as Lobb's there, you can expect a contender every year.
Rlverdale's solid junior gridders of last year, who lost by only a single point in the final game, might again be contenders in the lower-school ranks, for few of them have moved up to senior. Harry Wilson, the quarter, and Doug Timgren (brother of hockey's Ray) are the held-over stars.
In senior competition, Riverdale will have to do a rebuilding job. Gord Clarke, an excellent halfback, is the only 1949 first-stringer still around, but two all-star juniors, Fred Fulcher and Louis Bruce, should give coach Fred Pollard some help.
Malvern's Fred Warren, in a laconic mood as usual, says he has only halfback Don Little and guard Gord Croft from last year. Jim Wheler and John Sillers will be among those moving up from the junior squad.
Bob Gladish, brains of the North Toronto team, has seven players returning, three of them from the first string, Ross Woods, half last year and quarter this season, end Bruce Evans, and Bobby Munns, a middle last year being switched to inside. There are also a number of junior stars like Norm Williams, the hurdling standout, who will take the tailback spot. Gladish, who is terrifically happy just talking about football, is having fun switching the players' position. "Evans is the only man playing the same position as last year," he says gleefully. "I'm just putting them in where they fit best."
Reports from such halls of learning as Parkdale, Jarvis, Harbord, Danforth and Western Tech indicate that they, like Northern Vocational's Ab Chilcott, are "just starting from scratch." But don't discount any of them. As was proved on about six occasions last fall, anything can happen in high school football.
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