HOCKEY ICON RE­MEM­BERED

Bill Sid­ney’s con­tri­bu­tions to Cape Bre­ton com­mu­nity re­mem­bered

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY GREG MCNEIL gm­c­neil@cb­post.com

The late Bill Sid­ney played key role with Scream­ing Ea­gles, lo­cal hockey.

Many great play­ers have put on a jersey and taken to the ice in the his­tory of the Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles.

Though he never wore the jersey, Bill Sid­ney will be re­mem­bered for his equally im­por­tant off-ice con­tri­bu­tions to the lo­cal Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League club and other sport­ing ven­tures in the com­mu­nity.

Sid­ney, who was part of the group that first brought the team here and served as the club’s first pres­i­dent, died Wed­nes­day at age 86.

“It was a gam­ble,” Sid­ney told the Post in 2002 about ef­forts to get a QMJHL team.

“We had to go out and find the share­hold­ers at the time. That was no easy task.” Sid­ney’s con­tri­bu­tions to lo­cal hockey stretch well be­yond the ar­rival of the Ea­gles. Among many other things, he was he be­came part of the man­age­ment group of the fa­mous “Cin­derella” Min­ers hockey team in 1955 and was the found­ing pres­i­dent of the Cape Bre­ton Met­ros Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion in 1969.

The Met­ros played two sea­son in the Mar­itime Ju­nior ‘A’ Hockey League with Hal­i­fax, Dart­mouth and Char­lot­te­town.

“What hap­pened was we took the best guys we could find in each of the (Cape Bre­ton) com­mu­ni­ties,” Sid­ney said in a 2014 in­ter­view with the Post. “And when we didn’t get what we wanted here, I went look­ing in New Brunswick, Char­lot­te­town and places like that. From ev­ery an­gle, the op­er­a­tion was A-1. You’ll find lots of guys around here in their 70s and 80s who will tell you that it was the best ju­nior hockey we ever had.”

Though it would thrive for a time, the ar­rival of the Amer­i­can Hockey League’s Nova Sco­tia Voyageurs would lead to the end of that league. Sid­ney took a cou­ple of years away from hockey be­fore help­ing to start the Cape Bre­ton Met­ros high school hockey tour­na­ment in 1972.

It be­came a much-an­tic­i­pated event that lasted 15 years un­til the fi­nal tour­na­ment in 1986 at Cen­tre 200.

“It was a very high level of com­pe­ti­tion,” Sid­ney told the Post in a 2002 in­ter­view.

“A lot of kids who played ju­nior were play­ing high school then.”

The tour­na­ment started with six teams but con­tin­ued to grow to the point where Sid­ney would bring in the best teams from ev­ery province.

Stu­art Ma­cLeod, Sid­ney’s long­time friend and as­so­ci­ate, sus­pects it was the suc­cess of the Met­ros hockey as­so­ci­a­tion that led to the Met­ros tour­na­ment and then an in­vest­ment in the Ea­gles.

“The two years they had the team in the league they had sold out Glace Bay and North Sydney Fo­rum and must have made a lot of money be­cause 20-30 years later they were still in­vest­ing in the Ea­gles,” Ma­cLeod said.

“When the op­por­tu­nity to have a ma­jor ju­nior team came, Bill Sid­ney on be­half of the Met­ros group bought three

shares in the team.”

His im­pact on the com­mu­nity wasn’t lim­ited to just hockey, ac­cord­ing to Ma­cLeod.

“Bill would be called upon to col­lect money for var­i­ous com­mu­nity things,” he re­called.

“You knew when your re­cep­tion­ist said ‘Bill Sid­ney is here to see you,’ the first thing you would do would be to get your cheque­book. You weren’t go­ing to get away with say­ing no to Bill Sid­ney.”

Al­ways will­ing to of­fer an opinion and share his opinion is among the many ways Man­ning MacDon­ald will re­mem­ber Sid­ney.

“He was the cit­i­zen ex­traor­di­naire,” said the for­mer MLA and mayor of Sydney.

“Not many peo­ple were able to com­bine the kind of life that he did in­volv­ing fam­ily, busi­ness, sports and com­mu­nity in­volve­ment. He did them all well over the years.”

Sid­ney was civic-minded, ac­cord­ing to MacDon­ald, to the point where he of­fered to sit on the city’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment com­mit­tee as a vol­un­teer for 15 years, of­fer­ing valu­able

ad­vice to coun­cil.

The Ki­wa­nis Club and other or­ga­ni­za­tions also ben­e­fited from his vol­un­teer ef­forts.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t know that Bill did a lot for in­di­vid­u­als over the years that peo­ple still don’t know about. He did step up when need was there. And all of that com­bined with run­ning busi­nesses very suc­cess­fully through the years and em­ploy­ing a lot of peo­ple through good times and bad,” MacDon­ald said.

“He cer­tainly left many foot­prints around the com­mu­nity. Peo­ple will know for years that Bill Sid­ney was there.”

Visi­ta­tion for Sid­ney will be held Satur­day from 1-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Sydney Me­mo­rial Chapel. His fu­neral ser­vice will be Sun­day at 2 p.m. at the United Her­itage Church.

CAPE BRE­TON POST

Bill Sid­ney, seen in this file photo, was be­ing re­mem­bered for his many con­tri­bu­tions to the com­mu­nity on Thurs­day. Sid­ney, who died Wed­nes­day at age 86, was in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing the Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League club to Sydney and was helped as­sem­ble the famed “Cin­derella” Min­ers ju­nior hockey team in 1955.

Ma­cLeod

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