Overlooking the Montreal skyline from atop Mount Royal, Molson Stadium remains one of the most scenic places in Canada to watch a spectator event. Construction on the stadium began in July 1914.
I toiled away at my defensive half position with what appeared to be a glass helmet. Despite the urgings of my coaches, I never stuck that helmet where it might get broken or cracked. While on the field my mind often wandered during practices, sometimes just from watching CCHS/CSA tracksters running around the 440 circuit at L'Esperance field, two in particular which I clearly recall were Bob Land and Bob Gilmour, both great athletes.
This story however tells about the one time I did stick or attempted to stick my helmet where I thought it should never go. The occasion was the inter-squad game of the Montreal Alouettes. As a reward for winning the Provincial six-man football Championship, the previous summer, our St. Lambert team was given the honour of playing at half-time during the Alouette game, against a team from Longueuil.
There are a few facts I think you should know about me in 1956. Bob McIndoe was the smallest player on our team, and as you will verify by the picture in the South Shore Courier, I was the second smallest.
I must have been 95 pounds without my glass helmet, but I am sure I was an even 100 lbs. with all my equipment on. I had one other distinguishing feature that I shared with the star of the team, John Milligan; we both had tan coloured football pants. Everybody else had maroon coloured togs. Keep this in mind; it becomes important as we develop the saga. If I recall, we pinned Longueuil deep in their end and when attempting to run the ball out of their own end zone, they fumbled and we recovered for a touchdown. I had been happily sitting on the bench, enjoying the game as much as the ten or twelve thousand people in Molson Stadium, but when it came time for us to kick off to the other team, Steve, being the gracious coach, looked down the bench and decided to give the misfit a chance to play, at least on the kick off. What harm could come of that?
This kick off really got my attention and the football misfit, his mouth now completely dry, lined up hesitatingly on the field. Ready to receive the kick off was Johnny Gross a hard-nosed veteran who weighed at least one hundred and fifty pounds and was almost as fast as our star Mr. Milligan.
There is one other historical note. Our equipment manager, Drew Moran was pressed into service as the half time public address announcer. You know, "Pass from Milligan to Wrigley completed for a first down." That kind of thing.
Maybe it was Bob Brown who kicked off, I don't remember, but my wobbly legs carried me downfield under the high end over end ball. My only thought? Please heaven don't let him run at me! Far downfield, Johnny Gross scooped up the ball and proceeded to run at full speed through our whole football team. Maybe my wobbly legs didn't let me go at full speed down the field, so I was last in line, but, I became painfully aware that I was the only player between Johnny Gross and half time inter squad immortality. He was running right at me in fact he was going to run right over me. In fact, he did run right over me. I was petrified, in fact I was so scared that I grabbed Mr. Gross and held on for dear life. It was a soft landing for Johnny because he landed on top of me as I ploughed up several inches of Molson Stadium turf. But the blessed whistle blew and I bounced up none the worse for wear. I came off the gridiron to the congratulations of my coach and teammates, but as I was skipping lightly off the field Drew Moran made his mistake. He made the assumption that since that heroic tackle had been made by a player with tan coloured football pads, it must have been, you guessed it, John Milligan. I tell ya, that John Milligan was such a great football player he could make plays while sitting on the bench.
Baxter? He could not have made that play in a million years!!!
Note: This is the same game at Molson Stadium which Bob Wrigley C'61 wrote about The Football Player