The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Bob McFarlane

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Bob McFarlane of Western Named Winner of Marsh Memorial Trophy

Tuesday, February 6, 1951

By Joe Perlove

Robert M. “Bob” McFarlane of London, University of Western Ontario track and football great, has been awarded the Lou Marsh Memorial trophy as Canada’s outstanding athlete, amateur or pro, for 1950, it was announced today by the board of judges.

In selecting big Bob, son of Dr. and Mrs. D. Cecil McFarlane of London, and soon (June) to graduate in medicine himself, as Canada’s outstanding athlete for the past year, the board (Elwood Hughes, Oscar Pearson, Tom Allison, Charles Higginbottom and Charles E. Ring, the latter donor of the trophy), revealed he was their unanimous choice.

And small wonder too, for McFarlane, six-foot-two, 22, just about rewrote the Canadian running record book last year, besides leading the Intercollegiate football union in scoring, and materially helping Western to the college title.

The Marsh trophy, set up by Mr. Ring a few months after the late great sports editor of the Toronto Daily Star died in March, 1936, carries with it an unwritten connotation on the character of its winner, in this regard, too, McFarlane is an outstanding selection.

His sportsmanship on the field and conduct on or off the field of athletic endeavour always have been impeccable. In his medial course, he has led the class year after year. He must set an inspiring example to Canadian youth.

Winning trophies isn’t anything new to this brown-haired, hazel-eyed, bushy-browed young medical student. He has a cabinet full of medals, cups, plaques and trophies. Recently he was awarded the Norton Crowe Memorial medal as Canada’s outstanding amateur athlete of 1950 (the Marsh trophy is for professional and amateur alike), the J.W. Davies trophy as Canada’s outstanding track and field athlete of 1950, and has been nominated for the Helms World trophy for 1950.

Bob was overjoyed at winning the Marsh trophy. “This is my biggest thrill yet,” he said.

A member of Canada’s Olympic team in 1958 (“I was terrible”), Bob burst into flames as a half-miler last year, set five Canadian records at various distances, defeated Olympic champions Mal Whitfield of the U.S. and Arthur Wint of Jamaica, and was a member of three winning relay teams in top-flight meets.

At the Canadian Legion meeting in Montreal, he set a new Canadian record in the indoor 500 yards (58 seconds) and defeated Whitfield. He also set an indoor record in the 1,000 yards.

At the 91st Highlanders meet in Hamilton, he ran a dead heat with Whitfield in the 600 to set a record of 1:12 5-10; ran a close second to Irv Kaplan of N.Y.U. in the invitation 300. He hung up a record of 30 seconds in the 300 at the Wossa meet and in the Canadian championships roller to a new national mark of 1:53 2-10 in the 880.

In international competition in Great Britain, Ireland and Holland he was just as sensational. Won the 800 metres and 400 metres (beating Wint) at the British Games; won the 440 and 300 at Dublin; the 880 at Belfast; the 440 (new Scottish record of 48 seconds) and the 880 Glasgow; the 880 at Chesterfield and the 400 and 800 metres at Amsterdam.

Said Jack Crump, honorary secretary of the British Amateur Athletic board, “A great fellow and a great athlete, who leaves behind a very fine impression of Canadian sportsmanship and Canadian athletics.”

Bob isn’t sure yet what will become of his athletic life in June, when he interns for a career in surgery. He plans to married in June – to Pat Henderson, dietitian at a Kitchener hospital.

“I’m afraid football is out,” said Bob. “I don’t know about track.” This ruefully, as track is his great athletic love.

Murray McNie, track coach at Western, shook his head sadly. “Last year was the first year he tried the half-mile. He’s the only half-miler who can boast he has never been beaten at 880 yards or 880 metres. He’s just at his peak. There is no telling how great a runner he could become.”

Bob’s name on the Marsh trophy takes its place beside a fine galaxy of Canadian athletes. The 1949 award went to marathon swimmer Cliff Lumsdon. Barbara Ann Scott won the trophy in ’45, ’47 and ’48.

Previous winers are: 1946, Dr. Phil Edwards, runner; 1937, Lieut. Marshall Cleland, horseman; 1938, Bobby Pearce, sculler; 1939, Bob Pirie, swimmer; 1940, Gerard Cote, marathon runner; 1941, Theo Dubois, sculler; 1946, Joe Krol, football player. In 1942-43-44 the trophy was awarded to Canadian athletes who died in the Second World War.

Photo Captions: Brilliant student, as well as top athlete, McFarlane plans career in surgery; The winner - McFarlane. This was a familiar story.
Star photo by Howard Anderson