Legends of the Game


In the eighth installment of “Legends of the Game”, an article by Ken Giles on Nick Ferri appeared in the Legends Series (volume 2) commemorative program of 2002,

Here is Ken Giles article in it’s entirety…

Speak of the “Big Apple” and you automatically say New York.
This wasn’t so for Canadian Lacrosse and Brampton Sports Hall of Fame member Nick Ferri. Ferri’s “Big Apple” was Huttonville and the Heritage Road home to his orchards, Brampton, home of his Excelsiors and Georgetown, home of his intermediate hockey Raiders.

A former lightweight amateur boxer. Ferri abandoned boxing for the heavyweight sports of box lacrosse and hockey. His lacrosse playing career started late, at 19 or 20, just at the time the Mimico-Brampton Combines won a Mann Cup Canadian senior lacrosse championship in 1942.

Before the end of the decade. Ferri was starring with the Brampton senior Excelsiors at Brampton’s Union Street “Rose Bowl”. It was an era in which the Excelsiors had their Rose Bowl, the Mimico Mountaineers, their Drummond Street Bowl and the St. Catharine Athletics, the Haig Street Bowl – outdoor facilities, all of which seated 2-3,000 spectators. By 1949, Ferri was one of the Excelsiors most valuable players, an award he eventually won. “When my line-mate Carl Madgett was struck by polio in 1949 it took the heart and soul out of the team which seemed to have Mann Cup potential.” said Ferri. It was the era of Harvey Madgett, his brother Fred (Whitey) Severson and Archie Browning (the Gold Dust Twins) because of their curly blonde locks, who had been brought from British Columbia, to bolster a dynamic Excelsior team.

Ferri played against Lloyd (Moon) Wootton, Ross Powless and Ike Hildebrand, all Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Famers and of Peterborough Timbermen vintage between 1951 and 1954. Ken Richardson who played for 1960 Ferri-coached Excelsiors described Nick as a true sportsman and fierce competitor who always tried to instill competitiveness into his players. “His game was a running game long before the 30-second rule” said Richardson. “Never big in stature, Nick was always very quick when he played for the Raiders (a team he not only captained but also would later coach). Size didn’t matter, heart is what counted,” said Richardson. Ferri played his hockey during the days of the East York Lyndhursts, the first Canadian losers to the Russians at the World championships in Stockholm in the spring of 1954.

Many of Lyndhurst players, coached by Greg Currie, would re-surface as Brampton Consumers Gas senior Bs, playing out of Brampton Memorial Arena, and seeing action against the Raiders and Milton Merchants. When the Brampton Regents of the Metro Junior B Hockey League became the Brampton Seven Ups in 1957-58. Ferri was the club’s first coach. Ironically, Currie followed Ferri as coach of Seven Ups in 58-’59. Ferri also coached the Cheltenham Harvesters, an Ontario rural intermediate team that played out of Victoria Park Arena following its opening in 1967.

To Nick Ferri. I was always “Scoop”, never Ken, even thought I had seen him play both lacrosse and hockey, long before becoming a cub reporter, following in the footsteps of the late Jack Campbell, whose Sports Slant column appeared in the Conservator. When going to pick apples at Ferri’s “Big Apple” even as late as last September. We always enjoyed our swapping of lacrosse and hockey tales. With the passing of each harvest our stories seemed to get longer. Fortunately, for the both us, unlike Pinocchio our noses didn’t grow.

Ferri loved his lacrosse and continued to follow its new stars in the Ontario Lacrosse Association and National Lacrosse League. He was particularly impressed with the playing skills of Jim Veltman, captain of the Toronto Rock, and John Tavares of the Buffalo Bandits, both former Excelsiors. He liked the goaltending of Rock netminder Bob Watson and Pat O’Toole of the Rochester Knighthawks.

Never far from the game. Ferri was thrilled when the Excelsiors won the Mann Cup in 1998, a Holy Grail which eluded him during his playing career. For Nick and I, there will be no harvest romps, seeking out the best strawberries or a search for his best McIntosh or Delicious apples.

A tragic accident at the “Big Apple” that claimed Nick’s life ended all of that last Monday. I not only knew Nick as a talented player and coach, but also a friend, his friendship being the most important of all our associations in 50-plus years on the sports beat.

-Retired Sports Editor

Just a note:

Ferri was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1986, and the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1987.

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