Controversial Signing

  • Posted on: 26 December 2014
  • By: lrigby

The most controversial signing came after Christmas 1913 when it was announced that Harry Scott of the Halifax Crescents had signed with Sydney.  Manager Murphy of the Crescents contacted President Lithgow and asked him to send a message to Sydney requiring them to release Scott and return him to Halifax to play for the Crescents.  Sydney refused to relinquish Scott’s contract since he claimed that he had been verbally released by Halifax and in their view he was free and clear to sign with Sydney.

On December 30th, a phone conversation took place between Manager Murphy and Manager Ross.  Charlie Ross indicated that he was not satisfied with the Crescents claim on Harry Scott and he requested a meeting of the MPHA to solve the issue.  Sydney's first scheduled game was in New Glasgow on January 3rd and they had every intention of playing Harry Scott against the Cubs.  However, they were contacted by Lithgow and informed that if they played Scott on Friday, their game had to be considered an exhibition match and not a league one.  Since there wasn’t time to organize a meeting of the MPHA executive before the Friday night game, Sydney and New Glasgow agreed to play the game as an exhibition.

The meeting of the league executive took place on January 6th 1913.  Present at this meeting were J. C. Lithgow, president of the league, Gordon B. Isnor manager of the Halifax Socials and J.T. Murphy manager of the Halifax Crescents with Charlie Ross and Harry Grant representing the Sydney team.  Telegrams arrived from New Glasgow and Moncton requesting that Charlie Ross represent the Moncton team at the meeting and Harry Grant of the Sydney Millionaires represent the New Glasgow management.  Manager Murphy challenged the right of the Sydney executive members to represent the Moncton and New Glasgow teams and then refused to take part in the inquiry of which club had the rights to Harry Scott’s services for the season.  Harry Scott was also present to give his account but the matter was left undecided at this meeting.  As it stood, Scott was prohibited from playing in the league until the matter was concluded.

A special meeting of the executive was called on January 8th to once and for all settle the matter of Harry Scott.  After a statement from Scott was read and statements were taken from Manager Murphy of the Crescents and Manager Ross of the Millionaires, the MPHA voted to take the word of Manager Murphy deciding that he did not release Scott and awarded him back to the Crescents.  Scott was permitted to play one last game for Sydney against the Halifax Socials and then would be required to rejoin the Crescents hockey club.  The executive made a statement to the press stating that although it was determined that Scott was still under contract with the Crescents, the Sydney manager signed him in good faith believing Scott’s story that he was released from Halifax.

 Harvey Richardson and Toby Macdonald were not the only local boys who made the team. Billy Dunphy, born in North Sydney had played hockey for the North Sydney Victorias of the Cape Breton Senior Hockey league.  Billy played the previous season in the MPHA switching between the Halifax Crescents and the Halifax Socials.  He was an excellent goal scorer and was considered one of the best hockey players in the Maritimes.  James “Minute” Wilkie was also a North Sydney born player.  James was a small forward with great skill and speed and was known for his accurate shot.   Robert “Burglar” Ferguson was from Glace Bay, Cape Breton and played with various teams on the island.  Robert spared with the Millionaires throughout the 1913 season.  Other local men who practiced and were sparing for the Millionaires included Rob McLean, Chick McNeil and Robin Foote.  Interestingly Chick McNeil was imprisoned for three months in 1908 for assaulting another player on the ice during a hockey game.  This was the first case of it's kind in the Maritimes where an athlete was jailed for actions during a sporting event.


On January 3rd, 1913 The Sydney Millionaires headed to New Glasgow to face the cubs in what was declared an exhibition match.  Sydney started Toby Macdonald in goal, Robert Ferguson on point, Cap. MacDonald at cover point and Harry Scott, Billy Dunphy and Joe Tetrault as the forward line.  The team was also accompanied by spares Hector Mackenzie and Robin Foote.