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Obituary: Al Slaney was a 'keeper

Al Slaney, shown behind the trophy in the front row, was goalkeeper for the St. Lawrence Laurentians as they won the first of four straight Challenge Cup soccer championships in 1975. Slaney, a 2005 inductee into the Newfoundland and Labrador soccer Hall of Fame, died over the weekend in Edmonton. Members of that 1975 Laurentians team included (from left), front row: Greg Quirke, Rudy Slaney, Frank Haskell, Tom Tarrant, Al Slaney, Ray Molloy, Clem Edwards, Jim Loder and Frank Pittman; back row: Bob Slaney, Bren Slaney, Keith Farrell, Mario Tarrant, Wils Molloy, Junior Doyle, Joe Turpin and coach Jack Simms.
Al Slaney, shown behind the trophy in the front row, was goalkeeper for the St. Lawrence Laurentians as they won the first of four straight Challenge Cup soccer championships in 1975. Slaney, a 2005 inductee into the Newfoundland and Labrador soccer Hall of Fame, died over the weekend in Edmonton. Members of that 1975 Laurentians team included (from left), front row: Greg Quirke, Rudy Slaney, Frank Haskell, Tom Tarrant, Al Slaney, Ray Molloy, Clem Edwards, Jim Loder and Frank Pittman; back row: Bob Slaney, Bren Slaney, Keith Farrell, Mario Tarrant, Wils Molloy, Junior Doyle, Joe Turpin and coach Jack Simms.

St. Lawrence native Al Slaney, considered one of the finest soccer goalkeepers the province has ever produced, died over the weekend in Edmonton after a lengthy battle with cancer.

He was 61.

Funeral details are to be announced.

Inducted into the provincial soccer Hall of Fame in 2005, Slaney’s accomplishments between the posts for the St. Lawrence Laurentians were such that the award for the all-star goalkeeper in Challenge Cup provincial men’s soccer is named after him.

“Al Slaney is one of the greatest legends in the history of soccer in St. Lawrence,” said Gord Dunphy, the former Challenge Cup commissioner and a former teammate of Slaney.

“I would consider him to be up there with the Wils Mollys when it comes to making a list of the greatest players St. Lawrence has ever had.”

Like many goalkeepers in soccer and hockey, Slaney did not start in that position, but was a forward and fullback in his first years in the game. It was as an under-16 that he started playing goal and his talents were so obvious that the great coach Allan Ross soon selected him for the province’s under-18 team which went on to win a national championship in 1974. Ross also had him on the province’s 1977 Canada Summer Games team.

By that time, Slaney had taken over as the No. 1 keeper for the Laurentians’ powerhouse Challenge Cup team and he helped lead St. Lawrence to a half dozen provincial championships and two national silver medals before moving to Alberta in the mid 1980s.

For the majority of his 11-year senior career, Slaney was winner of the province’s top goalkeeper award that would later bear his name, and he was also named MVP several times.

“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write,” said Dunphy, who was penning Slaney’s obituary for publication. “It’s not just because he was such a great soccer player, but mostly because he was such a great friend.

“You know, despite all his talents in soccer, the thing I’ll remember most is the smile Al Slaney always had for friends, for teammates and for those he played against as well.”

 

sports@thetelegram.com

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