Many moons ago, summer of 1976, while playing Lacrosse for the midget aged Gloucester Griffins, we made a road trip to the Water Street Arena.
I remember getting tangled up in the Cornwall crease with their big goalie. Now, unlike the shenanigans that normally take place when a forward bumps a goalie, not much happened.
I was pretty big myself and a stare down was all that resulted in the altercation.
I didn't know the goalie, but for some reason, always remembered his teammates saying, "keep cool George." Many years passed, in fact, close to twenty five and I had become a regular at the hockey rinks in town. I had started back on the radio doing the colour for the Colts games in 1999 and attended all of the Colts games for three full seasons.
At the home games, as a season ticket holder, I had a little name plate screwed onto the railing in the South East corner of the Si Miller. Seated below me were a couple of older gents, great fans who never missed. Before long we became friends, meeting every Thursday night, playing arm chair coach and watching some pretty talented Al Wagar coached teams.
One night, the man named Doug, who was a grizzled looking old timer, told me, that I played lacrosse against his son George and it did't take long to figure out, George was that goalie.
Doug Wilson reminisced every night during those games, he told me great stories and I only wish I had written them all down. Stories that history lovers like me should have paid more attention too.
"Doug, I'll drop by one night and we can capture them all," I would say, but never did. Doug refereed hockey back in the fifties with Aime Leblanc and told me they each received $7 that included gas money.
A few Weeks later, Doug brought me his skates from those years, he wanted me to have them.
"Doug, I'll bring you by one night to see my sports room," I never got around to inviting Doug over. Once he showed up with a few old schedules from Royals games and then one night brought me something that I have cherished and tell everyone who sees it, that it came from Doug Wilson. It was a city Junior B hockey schedule from the seventies, there were even scores marked on it. Remember those Sunday afternoon matinee's at the Bob or the Jack Lee's Leafs or Boutique Migi.
"Doug, I'll write about that league one day and still have not." Over the years, George started showing up and we became friends at those games. I knew Louise, Doug's daughter too. Louise told me Dad spoke of our chats often. Doug had an infectious laugh, a laugh that he seemed able to hold forever and I always knew he was genuinely amused by some of the comments or stories I would tell him.
Eventually, Doug was not able to get out as often and like many seniors, was afraid of the steep steps at he Complex, so he rarely, if ever came to the games.
Doug Wilson died last week and I never got a chance to say goodbye, but I had many chances over the years to go for a visit and did not. I don't know much of Doug's life story, but I do know that in a way, I let him down. Sure, it sounds self serving and it is, but it really sunk in when I got the news of his death.
I will always remember Doug Wilson and if you know a friend, who you have been meaning to visit, do it today, because Doug's death proved, that tomorrow may never come.