BOB'S BLOG: 150 years of sporting encounters at HAAA
I’m going back. Have things really changed or am I “misremembering” again?
In 1962, as I recall, around the time that Richard Nixon decided he wasn’t going to be kicked around by the media anymore (SEE VIDEO HERE), I was kicking a soccer ball at Hamilton’s HAAA grounds.
There weren’t many kids playing soccer in southern Ontario back then. I was one of only a few Canadian-born players on a Burlington squad that won the Hamilton and area championship on a wet day at this west Hamilton field. I think the score was 2-1.
As memory serves, I imagined I was performing in some sort of big-league park that day. It was my Yankee Stadium or maybe Carnegie Hall. And I was right. In fact, more Grey Cups have been played here than any stadium outside Toronto. The last one held at the former Hamilton Cricket Grounds was in 1935. History was made on that cold December day when 6,405 fans witnessed the first-ever victory by a western team (Winnipeg Pegs).
I visited the field not long ago with my doubting wife. She was quite certain that I was taking her to Ryerson Public School.
Of course, she was right.
But, in addition to the school and its ugly portables, this pleasant and busy multi-purpose park features a small plaque. It is a tribute to the history of the grounds. The field itself is encircled by a well-maintained red brick cinder track and has been re-located to the east. The bleachers, which apparently accommodated in excess of 2,000 spectators, are gone, replaced by tennis courts and a children’s playground. The old clubhouse remains and is functioning.
I’m pretty sure those bleachers were full that day when the lads and I won the Hamilton and District 13 and under year old soccer championships.
Bob Wood is a housing and poverty advocate and former two-term Burlington City Councillor who has built a bed-and-breakfast with his wife on Lake Erie.