The Victoria Shamrocks name has graced the jersey of many a great player of endless shapes, sizes and abilities; but undoubtedly one of the oddest shapes, particularly as he grew older, belonged to Jack Northup. One glimpse at his vast girth and you wondered if this was a bowler carrying his ball in a belly pouch or a bear taster obviously happy in his work.

There was no way, observers would venture, that this person was in any way an athlete; but boy, would they be wrong.

Jack Edwin Northup was born in New Westminster on October 9, 1926 and sharpened his lacrosse skills with buddies and in the Royal City minor system between 1934 and 1944. But the love of sports also encouraged his to try – and excel – softball, hockey, soccer, swimming, basketball and, later in life, golf.

Jack began his senior boxla career in 1945 as a skinny, evasive penalty killer with the New Westminster Adanacs. From a rookie year of just six goals, Jack’s production steadily increased to 64 goals by 1950. He remained in New Westminster in 1951 with the Commandoes (an amalgamation of the Adanacs and the Salmonbellies) before joining former Adanac teammates Browning, Severson and Arnie Ferguson in Victoria for the 1952 season.

When he retired as an active player in 1960, Jack boasted the western senior lacrosse goalscoring record with 634. Even after 66 years of box lacrosse (1998), Jack’s goal total is the seventh highest. He also picked up 240 assists for 874 points in his 492-game career.

As his goal totals increased, so did his waistline. One story, often related around a certain Esquimalt tavern, had Jack winning rounds of beer for his firemen buddies by betting he could run a certain distance in a specific short period of time. No way, not with that belly; but, indeed, he invariably won his bet.

Jack Northup

Jack’s lacrosse credits were many: scoring championship in 1950; the Maitland Trophy for value combined with sportsmanship in 1951; and the Mike Kelly Medal as the Mann Cup Most Valuable Player in 1957. He participated in eight Mann Cup series (35 games) – 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, and 1957, winning in 1947, 1955 and 1957.

In addition to taking up golf and winning running bets after his playing days were through, Jack stayed in the game as a referee for seven years.

In 1972, Jack Northup was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

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