As mentioned last week, the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame welcomed four new inductees in a recent ceremony at the Nanaimo Museum. Two of those were added in the athlete category, as former NHL player Wayne Bianchin and legendary Nanaimo Timbermen goaltender Fred Fulla were inducted.
Also inducted, in the builder category was longtime soccer referee Dr. Ed Johnson. Following his arrival here in 1961, ‘Doc Johnson’ was Nanaimo’s top referee for many years. Highly respected for his fairness and knowledge of the game, he was also a mentor to countless other officials in the community.
In 1983, Johnson joined the national men’s soccer team as team doctor, and continued in that role for over 30 years. He travelled with the team on more than 50 trips all over the world, including to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
In 1994 Johnson joined the staff of the Canadian national women’s soccer team as team doctor when it competed at the Women’s World Cup.
During this time, Johnson also worked with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports. In 2014, the Canadian Soccer Association awarded Johnson a Meritorious Service Award for outstanding overall contributions to the sport of soccer.
Inducted in the pioneer category was native soccer player Harry Manson. Manson’s Snuneymuxw name was Xul-si-malt, meaning ‘one who leaves his mark,’ and he certainly did. When he died in 1912, he was described as one of the best soccer players Nanaimo has produced.
In 1897, at age 18, Manson started playing soccer for the local Snuneymuxw team. Along with James Wilks, he was called up at the end of the season to play for the Nanaimo Thistles. The Thistles were the top local European team, and were competing for the B.C. Challenge Cup. So Manson became one of the first First Nations players to compete in B.C.’s provincial championship competition.
The Nanaimo league was restructured in 1902 to create one all-star team to compete for the provincial Challenge Cup. Manson was invited to play, and when the team won the Cup final, became one of the first First Nations players to win a provincial championship.
Bianchin, Fulla, Johnson and Manson: four excellent additions to the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame.
Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.