A Belated Thank You To Red Fisher

As we savour our two-game win streak, (or three wins in five games), and as we wait for those dastardly Philadelphia Flyers to arrive on the scene, I thought I’d tell you my Red Fisher/Jim Roberts story. It’s mildly interesting I hope.

I’d just turned 15 and was on a bus charter to the Montreal Forum for a game between the Habs and New York Rangers. I’ve mentioned before about this trip, and about how I was a bit drunk when my dad picked me up at the bus station when I came back to Orillia.

When the siren sounded to end this game in Montreal, my friend and I wandered down to rinkside to look at the big CH’s at centre ice. This is what I wanted to do as much as see the game. Go close to the ice and see the CH’s that I had only seen on grainy television. It was magical to me, and I can still feel that exact moment to this day. Funny what a couple of painted logos on the ice can do.

We also saw trainers wheel out the players’ equipment, stacked in bags on carts, bags belonging to Big Jean and Pocket Rocket and the rest, from the corridor near the dressing room. I can feel this moment too.

Nearby I spotted Jim Roberts, the all-important defensive forward who sometimes played defence, talking to some guy in a suit, so I sauntered up and asked him to sign my program, which you can barely see in the picture above, just below Jean Beliveau and Jim Neilson. Best of all, Roberts was extremely nice to me and asked me where I was from and such, and he had no idea how much this impressed me.

He impressed me so much that I decided to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. It would be almost like being on the team for goodness sakes. Inside the Habs inner circle. What a fantastic idea this was.

The next step was writing Red Fisher, who needs no introduction because he’s Red Fisher, and I informed him of my plan to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. Red wrote back, (I had this letter for years but don’t anymore), and he told me that he would mention this to Roberts first chance he got.

I never heard any more. Maybe Jim Roberts was waiting for me to begin. Maybe he waited all season for his fan club to begin. Maybe Red forgot to tell him. Regardless, it probably wasn’t more than a day or two later that I realized I didn’t want to start a Jim Roberts Fan club. Way too much work. I had school and hockey and public skating to go to on Sunday afternoons. I didn’t have time for this. Where was I going to get stuff to send to members? How could I afford stamps? What would I write about, other than the fact that Jim Roberts was a good player and was nice to me when I asked for his autograph?

I don’t know what I’d do if Jim had contacted me and told me he was excited to have a fan club. Then I’d be stuck.

What the heck was I thinking?

So if Red Fisher forgot to mention it to him, I just want to say thank you.



8 thoughts on “A Belated Thank You To Red Fisher”

  1. Dennis, I feel like I’m shoulder to shoulder with you on this great exploits. Such great recollections. Again, thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Dennis,

    Cracking good tale.

    And on this side of the pond I too have been ambling down memory lane, with tonightrs opponents in mind.

    You may know the name Peter Osgood, many of your readers may not. But from the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s he was the King of Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s iconic Centre Forward. He was part of the the team that won the FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup in a memorable period in the early 70’s. They rubbed shoulders (and maybe more) with the likes of Raquel Welsh. Steve McQueen would turn up in the dressing room. The literati and glitterati were all hanging out down the Kings Road, back in the day.

    Leeds United were the best but Chelsea had the glamour.

    What’s the relevance of this? Well he left Chelsea in ’73 played for a couple of more clubs and then fetched up playing for the Philadelphia Fury in the NASL in 1978. He was way past his best and spent a season only scoring only one goal before returning to a Chelsea who were about to enter the darkness of the 80’s. The glory days gone.

    We love him to bits though. He is the only statue that stands outside the Bridge. His ashes reside under the penalty spot at the Shed End of the ground.

    So when Peter Osgood, a true Chelsea legend, offers an opinion on Philadelphia, I for one take notice. Here is what he said.

    Benjamin Franklin has on his tombstone ‘Rather here than Philadelphia’ and he was right. F**king horrible place.

    (I apolgise to those who love Philly. Everywhere is dear to someone and as I live in a less than salubrious part of London, perhaps people in glass houses etc. etc. But we’ve got to crank up some spite for the coming game.)

  3. This story is hilarious and typical of something a kid would think up. Red may have mentioned to him but I doubt it went too far. Might have brought a smile to his face and that’s it.

    I remember as a kid I’d buy those dumb toy superhero “utility belts” and I’d somehow use it to train to become the world’s greatest hero AND superhero because, heck – I’m awesome.

    I also think that one day I came up with an idea of starting a bodyguard/stuntman agency but that came from too many episodes of Fall Guy.

    I was going to invent time travel. I was going to be THE brilliant mind to invent it…but sadly my math skills are lacking. Oh well.

    Dennis it would have been a riot to know you as a kid. I bet you were always up to something.

  4. That is of course Raquel Welch. Although there may have been a Raquel Welsh knocking around but her place in history goes undocumented.

  5. Blue Bayou, yes, Raquel elsh. She used to come on just before Boom Boom LaDrue for the evening show at the old Pandora’s Box. I remember her well. She was beautiful, although I’ve never seen her face.

  6. Darth, great comments. I wanted to be Zorro. And the Lone Ranger. And I once tried to dig a hole to China in my backyard but gave up after a couple of feet. I also propped up some nails against my dad’s tire of his car so he’d get a flat when he backed out of the driveway, but he noticed them and wow, did I get it.

  7. Blue Bayou, I was in Philadelphia just once. My buddy Mike Williamson and I were on our way to the Atlantic City Pop Festival. We smoked a joint on the outer top of city hall. Another time I drove by the city and saw the Spectrum, but that doesn’t count as being there. Or maybe it does. Maybe everyone hurries by.

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