Fred Hatton

Developing a championship team is extremely difficult — keeping the title is even tougher.

This was the dilemma facing the Orillia Terriers, the 1934 Mann Cup victors hoping for a repeat in 1935.

Oh, the club still had high-scoring attackers like brothers Bill and Len Wilkes, Bill and Ernie Curren, Bill Wilson and Shipwreck Kelly, but there was a critical need for a fourth defenceman to join Tom Scott, Ed Downey and Hank Munro in front of netminder Ted Hall.

Enter Fred Hatton, an outstanding defensive stalwart and transition specialist, who had toiled the previous two seasons with the now-defunct Mount Dennis Firemen.

The mixture was a sure-fire success — Orillia rolled through the O.L.A., then whipped Elmwood of Manitoba 23-3 on the way to a three-games-to-none beating of Richmond for the Mann Cup repeat title.

The following year, Fred switched colours to the Mimico Mountaineers for the next four seasons with a short sidetrip to the glamour lights of Hollywood.

A four-team winter league, known as the Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association, was formed in Los Angeles in 1939 which, despite a threat by the Canadian Lacrosse Association to suspend all participants for two years, attracted top athletes from Ontario and British Columbia.

It was an interesting set up: The Los Angeles Canucks were, in reality, the New Westminster Adanacs; the Los Angeles Yanks were stacked with Salmonbellies; the Warriors involved Andy Paull’s Indians from B.C., and the Hollywood Terriers were — well, you guessed it.

Doubleheader games attracted crowds exceeding 4,000 a night but off-floor bickering between the promoter, the arena and the players killed the league after just three weeks.

Hatton and his Ontario teammates returned home under C.L.A. suspension; however, the governing body relented and dropped the two-year suspension, re-instating the so-called outlaws as of June 15.

Back from his California fling, Fred once again lined up with Mimico and, on a more personal note, happily discarded his bachelorhood to Gwen.

Fred played with Brampton in the 1940 and 1941 seasons and the Mimico-Brampton Combines in 1942. The Combines went on to beat the New Westminster Salmonbellies for the 1942 national championship but Hatton and high-scoring Jack Williams, both soldiers in the Canadian Army, were forced to miss the Mann Cup series.

The war years also kep Fred out of lacrosse until 1946 when he lined up with Barrie for one season and West York for three. After his retirement as an active player, Fred spent 10 years coaching junior and senior teams in Weston and minors in Rexdale.

During his 288-game senior career, Fred accumulated 234 goals and 91 assistions.

Well-known Toronto sportswriter Bunny Morganson assessed Hatton’s capabilities:

“Hatton’s big asset, defensively, is his ability to smother the loose balls around his goaltender’s crease. At times, he is as effective as a second goaltender in warding off ganging offensive plays of the opposition.

“He also possesses a sure-fire shot when in close and, generally, is good for a least one of two goals during a game.”

Fred Hatton was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1981

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