“Newcomer Sets Canadian Record” was a headline in the Toronto Globe and Mail in 1951.
It was the first public recognition of the sports involvement of a man who would become a widely recognized and respected member of Canada’s sport fraternity not only as a player, but also administrator and journalist. The notable feat chronicled in that headline was the highlight of an Ontario Cup soccer match - George Gross scoring seven goals.
Gross, Corporate Sports Editor of the Toronto Sun and long-serving president of Sports Media Canada was installed as a ‘builder’ in the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in April - although he could well have been listed among the notable players in Canada. He played for the Toronto All-Star team and a late career achievement was to join international stars Ferenc Puskas of Hungary and Ladislao Kubala who played for Spain, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, in an ‘old boys’ game.
George was managing director of the Toronto City soccer team in 1961.The team featured such notable stars as England captain Johnny Haynes, Scotland captain Tommy Younger and Danny Blanchflower who captained Northern Ireland and Tottenham Hotspur. Among his innovations and contributions to Canadian soccer was the signing of soccer icon Sir Stanley Matthews and Scottish World Cupper Jackie Mudie to play in Canada.
A place in a Hall of Fame is nothing new for Gross, having been inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, Canada’s Hockey Hall of Fame, the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame and an international Hockey Hall of Fame in Bratislava. Joining him as inductees into Canada’s Soccer Hall of Fame this year were two former members of Canada’s national team, Alec Bunbury and Brian Robinson.