Inspiring our community to reach its full potential through lifelong involvement in soccer.
To develop a stronger community one goal at a time.
Guelph Soccer is the largest nonprofit sport club in the city of Guelph. With 4,000 members, Guelph Soccer is approximately twice as large as any other sport club in the area
The club’s members are primarily youth, and participants can play year round by making use of both the indoor and outdoor facilities we have to offer. Our club is very accessible because soccer is one of the most affordable and inclusive sports available in Guelph, catering to every facet of our diverse community. High and low income parents from all across the city bring their youth to participate in our exceptional programming.
- By John Bamber
This is the history of the beginnings of the present Guelph Soccer Club
Incorporated. The story begins in the early 1960s. There had been
youth soccer organized in earlier years. These earlier attempts which
were successful for a while did not last.
The seeds for Guelph Soccer were planted around 1960. The previous
year, myself and a friend named Alex Barclay had been invited to join
the executive of a team called Guelph City. The shortcomings of the
Club soon became apparent. There were two other Guelph teams and all
three were competing to sign up the limited number of players who were
available. There was a need for more young players in order to keep the
One thing we noticed while traveling to away games was that other
communities already had minor soccer programs. St. Catharine’s in
particular had 500 children organized into a league. Guelph City then
attempted to start a youth team. Very little interest was shown and the
idea was eventually dropped. We could see that what was needed was a
new organization dedicated to minors.
Alex and myself left the Club in 1964. We expressed to the executive
that if they ever wanted to become involved in a minor soccer program we
would become a part of it.
Guelph City operated for another year and then folded. Two of the
executives, Dave Friel and Bill Greenhorn, decided to pass what was left
of the Club treasury to Alex Barclay, with the understanding that it
was to be used to start a minor soccer program. Alex accepted the
challenge, seeking help from several people including myself.
Alex must have had a good response because the next thing he did on his
own was to arrange to meet with Guelph City Council. Ken Hammill, one
of the City councilors later told me how Alex made his presentation.
Alex placed a large rolled up bundle of money (about a thousand dollars)
which he had received from Dave and Bill on the table. He said to the
Council members “I have all this money and want to organize a minor
soccer program. Can you tell me how to go about organizing it?”. The
Council was fully cooperative agreeing to provide as much help as
possible including the supply of fields, goal posts, nets and they also
maintained the markings.
Alex would be responsible for finding the players and volunteers. He
placed an ad in the Guelph papers calling for registration for players
between the ages of 10 and 14. The registration fee was $1.
Registrations were dropped into a box at the Delhi Recreation Centre.
When the box was opened it contained forty registrations. Guelph Minor
Soccer Association was formed.
The first meeting which I attended was very short. It was held inside
the old Canadian General Electric plant during March of 1966 (we all
stood in one of the changing rooms). In attendance were some of the
people Alex had approached previously. They were Davie Friel, Bill
Greenhorn, Andy Donachie and myself along with Alex. Alex explained
briefly what he had done so far and arranged for another meeting. It
was held in the ANAF club. We formed an executive and began to plan. A
decision was made to organize the boys into four teams with ten players
on each. The teams were to have Canadian names. Executive meetings
were held weekly and plans steamed ahead.
The first team would be called Chippewa with Bill Greenhorn and Andy
Donachie as coaches. The second team would be called Iroquois with
coaches Dave Friel and Johnny Millar. The third team would be called
Victory Vikings with Terry Flook as coach. Finally the fourth team
would be called Speedvale Indians with coach John Bamber. John Ruddy
All the players were asked to meet at a soccer field on the corner of
York Road and Lower Wyndham. Each coach met their ten players and
started to play mini games each Saturday. Andie Donachie who also
coached minor hockey had some jerseys that we made use of. Word must
have soon spread around about the games because more boys started
showing up each Saturday wanting to play.
After a month the program was reorganized into six teams with fifteen
players on each team. The six teams formed a league playing games at
Bristol Street. We found a source for small size soccer uniforms which
were available for the start of the new league. Soccer shoes were
unavailable in Guelph so the players wore running shoes. With the
expansion rate we had seen that first month minor soccer was here to
We didn’t always get full cooperation, even from some of stores. They
needed to be pushed. For example the following year the executive
decided to allow boys to wear soccer shoes. John Parry, who had joined
the executive soon after its formation, contacted some Guelph sports
stores and asked them to stock boys’ soccer shoes. The storekeepers
told him the market was too small and it wouldn’t be worth their while
to put them in stock. John contacted a mobile shoe salesman who brought
his truck to the registration and sold $600 worth of shoes. Boys’
soccer shoes were soon on display in store windows.
Soon after, it was proposed that a girls’ league be formed. One or two
girls had played the odd game on a team. Melody Flook in particular
loved the game. She wanted to play. In later years she played on a
team representing Canada. Some of the executive at the time didn’t
think it was a game for girls. The proposal was defeated. A group got
together outside the Club and organized a girls team that played
interlocking games with Waterloo. Within two years, there were enough
girls to form a Guelph league. By that time new blood had joined the
minor soccer executive. They voted for girls to become part of Guelph
minor soccer. The name was soon changed to Guelph Youth Soccer.
More volunteers joined the organization. A ladies auxiliary was formed.
They were a great help. Each of the following years the organization
grew and more volunteers joined.
It is because of the work and dedication of all the individuals who have
been part of the Club over the past 40 years that the youth of Guelph
have been able to participate in the beautiful game. I understand there
are now over 4400 players. It’s awesome for me to think of that
Alex Barclay was a beautiful person who was passionate for the beautiful
game. The motto Alex chose for Guelph minor soccer still applies – Age
Quod Agis. I’ve heard many explanations as to what it means but I
still go along with Alex’s meaning which is keep your eye on the ball or
concentrate on what you are doing.
I sometimes get asked about the early years. This story explains how it
happened. Most of the people involved came from Europe mainly of
British origin. When I think of the ten years I spent with minor soccer
it didn’t come to an end but to the end of the beginning. There must
be many more stories to tell.
Back in 1960 youth soccer did not exist in the golden triangle. Today
it is flourishing. I am sure the early history of how it happened in
Guelph was repeated in other communities throughout the triangle.
I could ramble on for a while longer but I must end here and let the
organizers continue on with the excellent job. I now watch my grandson
play while I sit in my chair shouting him words of encouragement. My
legs and body still want to gesticulate and show how its done. But the
best part of all is to see all the young players try their best.
John Bamber Founder and First President 1966
Content copyright . Guelph Soccer. All rights reserved.