Former Gee-Gees players and coaches look back on the special event
“As the head coach of the Gee-Gees in the 1970 Panda Game (which we happened to win), the thing I remember the most was the fact that the game was the largest attendance for a Canadian university football game, including the College Bowl (Vanier Cup). There was over 20,000 fans in attendance for that game at Lansdowne Park!”
—Robert O’Billiovich, head coach (1970)
“The biggest ‘Wow!’ at any Panda Game was the size of the crowd. The only national TV in the old days for university ball was the Vanier Cup … then known as the Canadian Save the Children Bowl. Great to see that Pedro the Panda has been revived.”
—Peter Demontigny, centre (1970-73)
“The 1966 game was my first and it was played at the Carleton field. The fans were everywhere, trying to get a glimpse of the game. The number of fans far exceeded the capacity of the stadium. One of our first plays was a pitch out and I had to lead the blocking for Al Scanlan our outstanding running back. As I turned the corner to head down field I could not make out where the out of bounds line was as the crowd was actually on part of the playing field. As we progressed, I could see the spectators scramble to the sidelines revealing more and more of the field. Luckily no one got hurt. I knew at that point how special the Panda Game was and I was happy to be part of it.
1967 was played at Lansdowne Park (now TD Place) which was far better for crowd control. The game was exciting as usual and we prevailed. What was most remarkable for me was what took place after the game. As I was leaving the field I could hear my name being called from far away and it wasn’t a voice that was familiar to me on the field. A gentleman caught up to me and gave me a big bear hug to congratulate me telling how great the game was and how much he enjoyed it. To my great surprise it was my American history professor from Maryland. Again I realized how special the Panda Game was as I never expected that a professor would be at the game, let alone running after me to congratulate me. It was, for me, a memorable event and on that day my academic and athletic experience at Ottawa U were forever joined together.”
—Pierre Guindon, offensive tackle, punter & kicker (1966-67)
“I played QB in the first three Panda Games coached by Matt Anthony. The game and the original Panda was the brainchild of Brian McNulty who was sports editor (for the Fulcrum) and Tom White … I graduated in 1957 and went on to teach and coach at U of Ottawa’s High School and in 1962, became the director of athletics and helped Matt with some coaching duties for a few years. I then became a professor at the School of Human Kinetics until my retirement in 1996.”
—Robert Pelletier, quarterback (1954-1956)
“I played in four Pandas. The Gee-Gees were 2-2 in the games, and I can only remember the last one, a loss in 1971. In 1970-71 the Gee Gees lost only three games: a Vanier Cup loss to Manitoba in 1970, a Yates Cup loss to Western in 1971, and you guessed it, our only regular season loss in two years, to the lowly ranked Ravens in the Panda Game. We were ranked #1 at the time. Ouch. I don’t have to tell you which loss hurt the most.”
—Martin Sevigny, defensive back (1968-1971)
“I still have a blown up picture of the first touchdown in the ‘72 game. It is on the wall in my gym at home. It is from the 5-yard-line and it’s a power sweep left with Jim Colton (playing in perhaps his first game after replacing Dan Smith at QB) keeping the ball and following myself and Whitey Sherwood around the end.
The shot shows Dave Parks getting ready to take on my block, which put him in the end zone. He was only about 160 lbs, so it wasn’t that big a deal! I’ll let Ron Armstrong tell the story of the scalp that hung in the locker room for a couple of years.
Tim Leach, Bill McNeely, Clarence Coleman, Jean Gouin, and Pete Demontigny, maybe some of Connie Kozak’s butt, are all visible in the shot, taken by Mark Vitaris. I think that was Jimmy Colton’s’ first TD as a Gee-Gee.”
—Steve Carlo, right guard (1971-1975)
“We were undefeated in 1965, but the Panda Game was a near loss. With less than two minutes left, I was beat for a TD, giving Carleton a three point lead on their home field.
My dad happened to be passing behind our bench and he heard a pissed off coach (Matt) Anthony scream, “that goddammit f***ing Silye”. I stayed on the field for the ensuing kickoff which I initially proceeded to fumble, but managed to pick up and with one deke and a great block by Ricky Myles, I was off to the races down the left sidelines for a 70-yard TD return which sealed the game for us.
Now my dad, walks back behind the bench again and yells at coach Anthony “How you like Silye now?” Coach Matt Anthony told me this story. During my years with the Gee-Gees, I believe we won the Panda each year! Go Gee-Gees Go!”
—Jim Silye, halfback (1965-1968)
“I’m pretty sure that this happened in 1965, the year before I became a Gee-Gee. I went to the Panda Game with some of my high school teammates. I think it was pretty close to the end of the game that a touchdown pass was thrown to the always sure-handed Al Scanlon. It was complete, but he didn’t receive it with his hands, but face-down in the end zone, the ball resting on the back of his legs!
I’d love to know what expletive-riddled wisecrack Matt Anthony uttered after that one. Someone from that team might be able to clarify time of game and impact on the outcome, but that’s how a grade 13 fan remembers it. Amazing!
—Terry McGovern, centre (1966-69)
“All of us who played in 1964-65 probably remember the tragic car accident following the game where a good friend got killed.
Like Jim (Silye), I recall numerous incidents involving Matt Anthony. However, to this day I have not met any individual as devoted and giving as he was. In the 1969 Panda I was clipped and injured. Actually I was given a standing ovation which I never saw. When I got to the sideline Matt asked what was wrong with me. When told, he simply said ‘freeze him up’ and I played the rest of the game.
There is always a soft side to every tough individual. I believe we all remember seeing Matt cry when he told us about (former Gee-Gees quarterback) Don Lewicki.”
—Pierre Pinard, defensive lineman (1964-69)