In installment number sixty of “Legends of the Game”, and to celebrate his 103rd Birthday last Sunday, I found an article compiled by Carole Jones, Ken Wilde, and Mark Evans, for the Brampton Excelsiors Commemorative Program of 2010 (Legend Series Vol. X) on George “Potsy” Burrows. A truly remarkable man!
Here is the article in it’s entirety, please enjoy…
George “Potsy” Alfred Burrows, was born in Toronto in 1918. “Potsy”, as he fondly became known, weighed in at 1.5 pounds. The family doctor at the time suggested to the Burrows that they might want to move out to the country somewhere for “fresh air” so that their baby boy might survive. Rumour has it that Potsy’s parents truly believed that their baby George would not make it and had him baptized twice, once a St. Paul’s and once with the Salvation Army just to be sure!
Potsy began playing lacrosse in Brampton at the age of 8, in 1926. He played in the local field lacrosse league for 6 years before switching to box lacrosse in 1932; when Rosalea Athletic Field was built. Potsy was a goaltender and played until the fall of 1936 for Brampton. In the summer of 1936, he found himself goaltending three times in one day, a morning tournament in Burlington as a midget, an afternoon tournament in Streetsville with the Juveniles, and an evening Senior Excelsiors game in Brampton.
Potsy began his Junior career with the Brampton Excelsiors in 1938 at the age of 19. Home games were all played at the “new” Rose Bowl built in 1937, which seated 1500 spectators and was often filled to capacity with standing room only. In 1940, he joined the Excelsiors Senior team, who lost in the Ontario Finals against St. Catharines 4 games to 2.
World War II interrupted Potsy’s lacrosse playing in Brampton and in 1941 he joined the Air Force. During his time there, he played in goal for the Forces and arranged exhibition games against area senior teams including the Brampton Excelsiors, which assisted in raising funds for the War effort.
In reflecting on his war experience, Potsy recalls going to Manning Depot, and joining the Air Force. Gordon Graydon was the Member of Parliament at that time. Everyone in Brampton knew Mr. Graydon who personally went to as many parents as possible to thank them for their boys joining and serving their country. “I was one of the lucky ones who returned from war. Unfortunately. over 50 of my friends paid the supreme sacrifice and did not return home” says Potsy. “They were all close friends of mine. We played hockey, lacrosse and went to school together.”
In 1946 with the war over, he returned to his involvement with lacrosse in Brampton assisting Jim Cleveley and Bill Evans to start the Lakeshore Minor Lacrosse League. He played one last year in goal for the Senior Excelsiors during 1947. Potsy continued to be involved in lacrosse and established himself as a well-known minor and Ontario Lacrosse League referee from 1946 to 1965.
Potsy helped to start the Brampton Lacrosse Oldtimer’s Association in the 1960’s with Pete Barnett & Mush Thompson and continues to support the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame to this day. In 1990, he was recognized as a Brampton Excelsior Life Member. Last year, at the Minto Cup held in the City of Brampton, Potsy, at the age of 91, played The Last Post at the Opening Ceremonies and was also later recognized at the Toronto Rock’s second home game for his many years of service to lacrosse along with his friend Bill Burrell.
Potsy has also made significant contributions to the community of Brampton as well as his country. He is a recipient of the Royal Canadian Legion 50 and 75 year medals and is now a Life Member. He was Brampton’s Citizen of the Year in 1997 and also won the Peel District School Board’s Outstanding Service Award and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. Potsy continues to contribute to the Peel District School Board by speaking to students on a yearly basis about his wartime and life experiences. In May 2010, Potsy will become an honored member of the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame in the Veterans category.
Thank you Potsy, for your lifetime commitment to the game of lacrosse in the City of Brampton. We all thank you for your valuable contributions.
*On a side note, “Potsy” is still an avid lacrosse supporter and although he can’t go to games, his support and energy is felt throughout the Brampton Excelsiors organization, and the Lacrosse world in general.
We all wish Potsy many more years of health and happiness watching, and supporting the game he loves so dearly.