Canada Soccer

Connaught Series: Calgary Hillhurst FC were first champions from Alberta

Posted on 16 July 2017 in Around the Soccer World

In 1921, Canada Soccer welcomed British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia to their national championships for the first time. Just one year later, a team from Alberta raised the Connaught Cup for the first time as national champions.

After knocking off future champions from Nanaimo and Winnipeg, Calgary Hillhurst FC headed east where they met hosts and championship favourites Toronto Ulster United FC. The Alberta team, however, featured their own cast of local stars in Bernie Cartwright, Fred Deluce, brothers Ed and Stan Wakelyn, and goalkeeper Andy Wilson.

As strong as Toronto proved to be, Calgary earned the edge in the opening match and then won the series through a 0:0 draw in the second leg. Wilson was the hero of the Dominion final, making 11 saves in that second leg (with Toronto eventually reduced to nine men through injures).

Upon arriving home by train five days later, Calgary Hillhurst FC were greeted to a hero’s welcome, where “several enthusiasts shouldered (captain Stan Wakelyn) and bore him in triumph to the cars awaiting the boys.”

Calgary Hillhurst FC wrestled the Dominion of Canada Championship honours west to the province of Alberta for the first time in 1922. Calgary won the two-match, total goals series 2-1 over Toronto Ulster United FC, with all three goals scored in the opening match. In reaching the final, Calgary Hillhurst FC eliminated Nanaimo FC and Winnipeg United Weston FC before continuing east to Toronto. 

In the final, Calgary took a 2-1 lead and then defended their way to the title, with hero Andy Wilson making 11 saves and posting the clean sheet in the second leg. He did so in front of a record crowd of 7,000 fans.  Back home, the Calgary Daily Herald “arranged for a rapid bulletin service on the match” at First Street West. The hosts Toronto, meanwhile, were reduced to nine men through injuries in each half. Despite their “no surrender” attack, Toronto’s Red Handers just couldn’t score an equaliser. Calgary had their chances, too, but wouldn’t add to their 2-1 series lead in the Saturday heat.

After the Saturday win, Calgary returned home and were fetted by a Thursday parade, a Friday luncheon, and a Saturday smoker.

Calgary’s inside right Sammy Gough scored the series-winning goal of the 1922 Championship final against Toronto. He scored the winner in the opening match before the second match ended in a scoreless draw.

Calgary’s “wee” inside left Bernie Cartwright led the Championship with five goals in seven matches, including four goals in the semi-finals. Winnipeg’s Ernest Knill ranked second with four goals scored.

On reaching Calgary with the Connaught Cup on 17 August, Stan Wakelyn and his Hillhurst teammates were greeted by a parade in their honour. The 32-year old captain handed the trophy to his father William and then “several enthusiasts shouldered (Stan) and bore him in triumph to the cars awaiting the boys.”

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.




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