Connaught Series: 18 scoring stars that notched the Championship winner
Posted on 24 September 2017 in Around the Soccer World
Bobby Lavery was Canada's ace centre forward of the 1920s. After his nine-men Toronto Ulster United FC were shut out by Calgary Hillhurst FC in the 1922 Connaught Series finale, Lavery wasn't about to let another Dominion title slip through his fingers three years later.
Incidentally, Toronto Ulster United FC also finished that 1925 final match reduced to nine men, but only this time their heated ejections came after captain Lavery gave the Ulstermen the decisive 2-0 lead with goals on either side of the break.
Lavery's Championship-winning, two-goal performance in the 1925 Connaught Series was one of the highlights of his Hall of Fame career. Years later, Canada Soccer General Secretary Sam Davidson still called it "the greatest game of football ever played in Canada." Deadlocked with Nanaimo after back-to-back draws in the Dominion final played at Carruthers Park in Winnipeg, Lavery and the Ulster team won their first and only Connaught Cup after, in the words of the Winnipeg Tribune, they "played as if their very lives depended on the outcome."
Lavery was one of 18 players credited with scoring the series-winning goal in 24 editions of the Dominion of Canada Football Championship from 1913 to 1939. There was no winning goal in 1914 (when St. Boniface won on goal average) while five players scored two Championship winners in the 1920s and 1930s: Alex Fowler, Jock Coulter, Hector MacDonald, Bob Campbell, Dave Turner.
In 1913, the Norwood Wanderers of St. Boniface won their first of back-to-back Dominion titles on points, with Simmonds scoring a brace to secure the decisive point and the Connaught Cup. While the 1913 round-robin series didn't have a final, Simmonds was the first of nine players to score two or more goals in the decisive game.
Charles Forsyth of Winnipeg Scottish FC scored two goals in the decisive match of the 1915 final (a 6:1 win over Toronto Lancashire) while Billy Gilvear of Hamilton Westinghouse scored a brace in the 1920 final (both the equaliser and extra-time winner of a 2:1 victory over Winnipeg Brittania). Alex Slidders of Winnipeg United Weston FC then scored two goals including the winner in the penultimate match of the 1924 final (Winnipeg won the two-match series 3-2 over Montréal Canadian Explosives, with all five goals scored in the first match).
After Lavery scored his brace in 1925, Alex Fowler of Nanaimo FC scored a brace in the opening match of the 1927 final, a 9:0 demolition of Fort William Canadian Legion. Nanaimo won the two-match, total goals series 14-1 (Fowler scored again in the second match). Four years earlier, Fowler had scored the Championship winner in a much closer final between Nanaimo and Montréal CPR: after Nanaimo scored in the first match and Montréal equalised in the second match, Fowler scored the third goal of the series in a 1:0 win to capture the Connaught Cup.
In 1928, the Connaught Series switched from a total goals format to a best of three format in the Championship final. That year, Jock Coulter scored a record four goals in the 1928 final for Westminster Royals FC, a 6:1 win over Montréal CNR. Coulter again scored the Championship winner two years later in 1930, this time the lone goal from the penalty mark in a 1:0 win over the same Montréal CNR.
James "Swede" Larsen and Mike McManus were the next two-goal scorers in the Connaught Series final. In 1937, Larsen scored the equaliser and winner in Vancouver Johnston National Storage's come-from-behind 3:2 victory over Toronto Ulster United FC. One year later, both Larsen and Mike McManus scored two goals each in North Shore United's 6:2 victory over Timmins Dome Mines. The McManus 3-0 goal stood as the 1938 winner.
From 1919 to 1926, Jimmy McLeish, Hector MacDonald, Sammy Gough, and Johnny Lang scored the other Cup winners when the series featured the total goals format. McLeish helped Montréal Grand Trunk FC win the 1919 series 3-1; MacDonald helped Toronto Scottish FC win the 1921 series 4-0; Gough helped Calgary Hillhurst FC win the 1922 series 2-1; and Lang helped Winnipeg United Weston FC win the 1926 series 3-2 (after three draws, Lang scored an 89th-minute winner in the fourth and final match).
Amazingly, MacDonald scored Championship winners 12 years apart. A three-time winner with Scottish FC (1921, 1932, 1933), he scored his second Championship winner when he scored the opening goal of the 1933 finale (a 3:0 win over Prince Albert City Reds).
Bob Campbell scored Championship winners in 1929 (with Montréal CNR) and 1935 (with Montréal Aldred) while Dave Turner scored Championship winners in 1931 and 1936 (both with Westminster Royals FC). Also in the 1930s, Jimmy Winning scored the winner in 1932 (Toronto Scottish FC), Roland Castonguay scored the winner in 1934 (Verdun Park FC), and Reg Liptrot scored the winner in 1939 (Vancouver Radials FC).
In celebration of our nation's 150th anniversary, the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame pays tribute to the early years of our Championship: the Connaught Series from 1913 to 1939. Every Sunday from May through September, Canada Soccer remembers the players, legends, teams, and champions from a golden era of football in the Dominion.
In Canada's 150th year, Canada Soccer will crown their 150th national champions across all adult and professional competitions since 1913. The 2017 competitive season will crown the Futsal Canadian Championship winners in April, the professional Canadian Championship winners in June, and the amateur National Championships women's Jubilee Trophy and men's Challenge Trophy winners in October.