Opinion Column

Is it time for a Cobourg Sports Hall of Fame?

By Charles Beale, For Northumberland Today

Ross Quigley shown with his uncle's jersey and a photo of Cobourg's Galloping Ghosts Championship photo of 1948.

Ross Quigley shown with his uncle's jersey and a photo of Cobourg's Galloping Ghosts Championship photo of 1948.

Cobourg has a rich sporting history, including cricket as early as 1846, organized baseball by the 1860s, sailing regattas from 1862 forward, outdoor curling beginning in 1869, golfing from the 1890s onward, lawn bowling rooted in 1907 and a women’s hockey team with its origins in the 1920s.

If you mention the Cobourg Cougars hockey team you’ll find a ton of pride in these hometown winners who were Ontario Junior League semi-finalists in 2012-13 and again in 2013-14, but its another team that older folks say has top bragging rights. That team is the famed Galloping Ghosts football team.

In 1946,1948 and 1950 the Cobourg Galloping Ghosts Intermediate Football Team won the Dominion Canadian Football Championship. They are considered by local sports enthusiasts to be Cobourg’s most revered team of the ages. Ireland Quigley played on two of the victorious teams and his nephew, well known resident Ross Quigley owns a prized possession from the famed Galloping Ghost’s - the sweater worn by his uncle. He also owns two football souvenir pennants that were sold at home games, along with four jacket crests from the 1948 and 1950 championships.

Quigley, in reflecting on his own involvement in sports says,”Over the years I was fortunate to play on many successful ball and hockey teams and won a few individual awards along the way.” “The first trophy I won, however had nothing to do with sports, but rather I was selected “Cub of the Year” at St. Peter’s Anglican Church cub pack in 1956. I still have that trophy today.

With that first trophy under his belt, Quigley would become a prominent player on any number of teams, a coach, an umpire and even president of leagues for a greater part of his life. So, it isn’t a surprise then that he is also a collector of memorabilia relating to local sports. His recreation room on Henry Street is a shrine to local talent and success.

He adds, “I don’t really know when this collection or saving of what is now thought of as old stuff started, but I would guess it probably began when I was in public school with old hockey and baseball cards that came in bubble gum packs. I was always a sports fan and getting your heroes cards from the NHL or Major League Baseball with their statistics on the back was just a neat thing to do.”

Quigley remembers that photos were always taken at team league banquets or wherever league championship events were being held and almost always by the renowned Cobourg sports writer Layton Dodge. “Most of these items were simply put in boxes for another day”, he recalls.

Quigley remembers purchasing numerous sporting magazines over the years from the 1950s and 1960s onward. And for a long time these too sat in boxes. Now, they are on display, along with old baseball and hockey programs from local teams, church hockey league programs and kids’ baseball teams. “It is so interesting to leaf through the pages and look at pictures of former mayors and downtown businesses that existed in those bygone days, many who generously supported local sporting events.”

Quigley’s massive collection includes two souvenir programs - “Arena Review” from 1953-54 and 1954-55 which detail a who’s who of local business advertising for the period. Names like Sommerville of the still active Sommerville Sporting Goods store and Fisher of Fisher’s Dairy where Foodland now stands.

Ross Quigley, and his wife Joan were former retail owners themselves for 14 years at the Pro Hardware Store when it was on Second and Albert Streets in downtown Cobourg.

Quigley also started saving Beehive Golden Corn Starch Syrup labels in the late 1950s and early 1960s and would send away for players of the original six NHL hockey teams. Over the last few years he has also acquired other Beehive pictures through the generosity of close friends that show players from the 1930s and 1940s and old photos of Cobourg championship teams from the early 1900s. This collection is now under glass in his recreation room for friends to enjoy along with any number of team crests, including the Plaza Hotel Hockey Champs of 1973-74.

The one item he does not have today is a scrapbook collection of newspaper clippings of his favourite hockey player, Mr. Gordie Howe. Quigley adds,”It would be great to look back on that storied career when he was in his prime and so dominated our real national game. Somehow, sadly, I lost it in a move.”

Communities are made of many things and develop strengths of character through civic and cultural histories. Cobourg’s depth of sporting history is one to be admired.

He questions what will eventually happen to this collection, especially the local content memorabilia. It is his hope that someday soon Cobourg will see fit to establish a Cobourg Sports Hall of Fame to celebrate the rich local sporting heritage. If that comes about, Quigley says he would gladly donate any or all items considered deserving of display for the enjoyment of all. In talking to friends and acquaintances over the years, he knows there are many residents that have all kinds of sporting pictures and historically significant items that they would also donate to such a venue. Ross Quigley emphasizes, “Maybe it’s time to at least talk about it.”

Quigley’s quest has included chatting with local officials about the possibility of a Cobourg Sports Hall of Fame. Now it’s up to others to help Ross Quigley reach the goal line. If you want to add your voice to this worthwhile project, he can be reached at 905-372-6977.

Charles Beale is a former educator, historian, freelance writer and author of Manly E. MacDonald - Interpreter of Old Ontario. (www.charlesbeale.ca)