By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
The 1954 A.N.A.F Scottish Soccer Team
Digging deep into our Hall of Fame vault, we came across an interesting piece on one of the many amazing soccer teams our province has produced. This one is all about the 1954 Army Navy Air Force Scottish, who were playing the beautiful game long before the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Cruyff.
After coming back from a disappointing end to the 1953 season, the Scottish knew they had the talent, but would have to look deep inside their hearts to get what they really wanted: a national championship.
The Scottish boasted a very balanced club, with talented players, one of those being George James, who once played in the Scottish First Division. They also had a very good goaltender named Walter Norget who only came to Canada three years earlier in 1951 at the age of 22.
The 1954 Season
The 1954 season kicked off on a beautiful day in May. The roster was talented, this they knew, but would it all come together this year?
They entered a pre-season tournament to tune up for the season. This is where they would put the rest of the league on notice and announce their arrival. They breezed through the pre-season knockout tournament, blowing by their competition with a tenacity in their work ethic that was second to none.
As the season wore on, their skill and work ethic would pay dividends — that, and revenge on their mind. You see, when I mentioned they had a disappointing end to the season earlier, I did not say why it was so disappointing.
Last year, they were so close to making it to the finals, only to be blown out 5-1 in game three of the national semi-finals. Using this as motivation, it fueled a fire within their bodies, truly the stuff that turns average into extraordinary. These players knew each other well and were on a mission to come back stronger and hopefully face the vaunted Vancouver North Shore bullies — err, I mean Vancouver North Shore United— in the finals.
In the provincial playoffs, the A.N.A.F Scottish steamrolled their two main rivals at the time in Germania and United Weston to win the Provincial Championship crown. Next up were dates with Port Arthur United in the regionals and then the Hamilton British Imperials in the Dominion final. The Scottish decimated Port Arthur, winning both of these games 9-1 and 9-0, before obliterating Hamilton by a combined score of 10-2, booking their ticket to National finals.
Waiting for the Scottish was none other than the perennial powerhouse Vancouver North Shore United. In the best of three series, the Scottish took it to them right from the initial kick-off. By the end of the first game, they had earned themselves a hard-fought 3-2 victory, getting them closer to their goal of winning a national championship.
With the taste of victory in their mouths, the Scottish overpowered Vancouver 3-0 in game 2 to take the best of 3 series, winning the Challenge Cup as National Champions. At the conclusion of their season, The City of Winnipeg awarded gold rings to the team members and toasted them at a formal dinner held at the Marlborough Inn commemorating their historic season.