“Ol’ 97” was a lightning-fast power train in West Coast lacrosse, steaming down the playing floor with break-neck speed.

Unfortunately, for both Ken Webb and his many fans, his athletic career kept getting side-tracked — and finally derailed — by a series on injuries. Otherwise, his 300-plus goals would undoubtedly have surpassed 500.

Born September 11, 1926, Kenneth Roy Webb was just 11 years old when a sports enthusiast gave him an old goal stick. While watching older boys playing field lacrosse at Dunbar West Memorial Park, Ken was soon hooked. He later upgraded his weapon-of-choice to a 50-cent Lally Special and joined a boxla team at Point Grey Junior High School.

After taking his Point Grey Midget club to two Vancouver City finals, Ken’s Juvenile “B” team captured the 1941 provincial championship. So outstanding was his performance with the gutted stick that Ken was called up to the Richmond Farmers’ senior squad for two games even though he had not yet reached the age of 16.

Again, 1942, he played a pair of senior games and, then, in 1943, Ken joined the Richmond seniors permanently. Still only 17 years old, Ken proved his star quality with a 33-goal season.

Now in the Armed Services, Ken lined up with the Navy team in 1944 that resulted in a 71-point season. The next six seasons were again with Richmond and, when the Farmers ceased operations following 1950, Ken joined Vancouver for another three years.

During his 214-game career, Ken racked up 302 goals and 101 assists for 403 points but, oh those numbers would have been so much higher if injuries hadn’t plagued him.

Indeed, his injury scoreboard looked more like a hospital charts 1943, back injury; 1945, broken left fibula and ankle; 1946, blood poisoning; 1947, torn right knee ligament and cartilege; 1949, pinched nerve; 1950, hyper-extended elbow; 1951, cracked rib, and 1953, torn left knee ligament. The multiple cuts, bruises and sprains were ignored.

The injuries finally forced him into early retirement after the 1953 campaign — he was just 27 years of age.

Ken’s old teammates nicknamed him “Ol’ 97” so it came as no surprised that he became one of the first lacrosse players to wear a high number on his sweater — yes, of course, it was “97.”

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