Legends of the Game

In the twenty-fifth edition of legends of the Game , we look at the career of Bert Naylor.

The articles come from Great Excelsior Lacrosse Series by Mark Evans, from the Legends Series Volume XI Commemorative Program from 2011, and an article by Ken Giles.

Here are the articles in their entirety…

Born and raised in Brampton, Bert learned to play lacrosse on the streets of Brampton and within the Brampton Minor Lacrosse program of the 1950s. His first team was Arthurs Mohawks, a novice house league in 1947 that played their games at Brampton’s infamous Rose Bowl. Donny Arthurs was the team mascot, his Dad the coach.

Bert played minor lacrosse in Brampton for 8 years before joining the Junior A Excelsiors in 1955. Bert was a key member of the Junior Excelsior teams for five years, capturing the Eastern Canadian final in 1956 before winning three consecutive Minto cups in 1957, 1958, and 1959. His fondest memory playing lacrosse in Brampton, Bert recounts, was “to be on the three consecutive Minto Cup wins in 1957, 58 and 59. We were the first junior team to win three consecutive Minto Cups, so it really is a fond memory that no one can ever take away.”

Bert played with the Sr. A Excelsiors for five years in the 1960s, going to the Mann Cup finals in 1961 and 1962. Berts final year of playing came in 1968 with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the professional lacrosse league at that time He also recalls some of his favourite players on other teams that he respected: Grant Heffernan of Peterborough, Glenn Lotton from Whitby/Brooklin and Wally Thorne of St Catharines, great players and a credit to the game.

At the same time, Bert found additional ways to contribute to the game of lacrosse. In 1963, Bert was appointed by the OLA to the leadership position of Coordinator – Administrator of the first lacrosse clinics ever organized in Ontario. In association with this position he served as Technical Advisor to the first instructional-promotional film produced on lacrosse. In 1968 and 1969, he coached the Jr. A Long Branch team and in 1977, he founded the Thornhill minor lacrosse association.

Throughout his playing years, Bert found time to both coach and referee in the Brampton minor system. A passion for officiating became his central focus following his playing career until 1975, officiating at the minor, junior and senior box lacrosse levels, including three Minto Cup and three Mann Cup championships. From 19882003 Bert refereed field lacrosse at the minor, high school, junior senior and university levels.

Bert has received many personal accolades along the way. He is a Life member of the OLA a Life member of the BELC, and a Life member of the Ontario Lacrosse Referee’s Association. In 1980, Bert was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

This is Ken Giles’ article on Bert Naylor also found in the Legend Series Volume XI Commemorative 2011 Program.

TALL OAKS from tiny acorns grow. This has to be the success story of Brampton’s Bert Naylor. Today, Naylor has stretched to better than 6 ft. 2. More than 20 years of active participation in lacrosse are written into the record books. This lanky lean stalwart of the Brampton Excelsiors has played in four Minto Cup final series.

Bert was a member of three consecutive Brampton Canadian junior lacrosse championship squads in 1957, 58 and 59. He is no stranger to Mann Cup senior lacrosse action. In fact, his love of lacrosse could have cost him a teaching career. A weekend flight to Vancouver in 1961 in an attempt to give his Brampton teammates a lift in that Mann Cup final was extended to two games. His efforts failed to give Brampton new life in a series which was being lost.

THIS WAS BERT’S first year as a physical education instructor following his graduation from Victoria College and OCE. Naylor, now married and living in Rexdale, teaches at Boylen Secondary School in North York. He embarks on a new role this season as coach of Long Branch juniors in the OLA junior “A” league.

For Naylor a brilliant playing career with Brampton has ended. However, fond memories of pick up games in the flats just back of his parents’ home on Rosedale Ave., combined with his many thrills as a participant linger on. Still not 30, his days as a player may be stopped prematurely. You can bet that his days as a promoter of lacrosse will not end prematurely.

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.