In 1957-1958 the Belleville McFarlands won the Allan Cup, signifying that they were the best Senior ‘A’ team in Canada and earning their way to the World Cup the following year – which they also won. So in the eyes of the people of Belleville , who have a few years under their belt, the Allan Cup has a mystical quality to it. There is a picture of it – with the Macs – on the outside wall of the Memorial Arena. The McFarlands from both years were inducted into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. With the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame undergoing a revival this year, in a new home – the Dr. R. L. Vaughan Atrium at the Qunite Sports and Wellness Centre (QSWC) – the thought occurs that the Hall of Fame induction ceremony might be a great opportunity to remember the past, while saluting the new inductees.
An email to Hockey Canada almost a year ago, resulted in the Allan Cup appearing on Hall of Fame President Dave Mills’ doorstep a week before the induction ceremony. And then the fun began.
On Tuesday of HOF Week, two former Macs – Davey Jones and Turk Barclay, got the surprise of their life when they finished their regular golf game and found the Allan Cup sitting on a table behind the 18th green at the Bay of Quinte GC. A few minutes later another Mac – Lionel Botley – showed up and over a few beers a lot of reminiscing took place, followed by a photo shoot with the Allan Cup. There had been an attempt to get a 4th Mac – Weiner Brown – to the Bay of Quinte GC, but prior commitments and perhaps a bit of skepticism that the call he got was real meant that things didn’t work out. However, that night his son Jeff saw a posting of the Bay of Quinte event on Facebook and said “What the hell is going on here?” A quick call to the Facebook poster – local sports historian James Hurst – confirmed that it really was the Allan Cup and the question was posed “How do we get this to my father?
Well, it turns out that Weiner has a regular routine of an afternoon beer at the local Legion, so on Wednesday, Sir H. Montagu Allan’s Cup was paraded into the Legion, where Weiner Brown was holding court and wondering why his sons and a bunch of friends had suddenly appeared. An hour-and-a-half of stories – some not to be repeated – followed. So, with this success under our belt, the Allan Cup headed west to the Belmont Retirement Home, where the captain and heart and soul of the Macs -Floyd Crawford - resided. Following a discussion with office personnel and a call to Eric Crawford to confirm that bringing in the Allan Cup was fine, Floyd got to once again meet with the Cup and was the hit of staff and residents. A few tears were shed.. Sadly, Floyd passed away on November 11th.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Another son in Belleville’s “Hockey Family,” Todd Crawford, heard about the Allan Cup being in town and making the rounds and suggested it would be a great experience for the peewee team he coaches to have an opportunity to see it and get a better understanding about its importance in Belleville’s sports history. So, on Saturday, just before the opening of the Hall of Fame, the Allan Cup made its way to some young players who now know its history, and who, one day, may play for it.
And the story doesn’t end there, either!
As the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame was opening to the public for the first time, a lady named Eleanor - who is the wife of the 6th Mac, Keith McDonald - approached Dave Mills wondering where the Allan Cup was. “We’ve been looking for Keith’s Allan Cup and the World Cup blazers for years and don’t know where they are.” Just imagine her reaction when Dave Mills said, “well they are right back there with the Cup.” It turns out that the blazers were leant to a friend, who leant them to another friend – who happens to collect sports memorabilia – and that person provided them to the Hall of Fame – on loan – for display. It really doesn’t get any better than that. Mystery solved.
After its one-week visit to Belleville, the Allan Cup started a new journey to Newfoundland. We can only hope that the people it touches there have the same experience that six of the Macs had in Belleville.