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Title: Dick Arends

bizzo steve - June 11, 2012 01:33 AM (GMT)
He died last month.

There were several obits, I think this one was well written.

Goalkeeper Richard (Dick) Arends had a natural aptitude for soccer, but as a result of bad timing, never reached the pinnacle of international success.

He was an even-tempered man, and modest about his accomplishments; so much so that a letter sent in 1999, advising that he was one of the original inductees into the new Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, caught both him and his family off guard.

"There were a few trophies and a scrapbook around the house when we were growing up but we really had no idea how important he was," says his daughter June. "If war hadn't broken out when it did, he would've been a household name."

Born on Nov. 17, 1916, in Wijhe, Overijissel, in the Netherlands, to parents with two daughters, Dick Arends was named after his father, the owner of a linoleum factory. Richard Arends coached soccer, instilling a passion for the game in his son.

The factory was the main source of employment in the small Dutch town and, for a while, the Arends' were prosperous enough to loan money to a bank. By 1926, with the failure of the bank, and subsequent loss of the factory, the family relocated to Canada, living briefly in Montreal and North Bay before settling in Toronto.

The teenaged Arends attended the High School of Commerce in Toronto, where he played soccer for two years. He dropped out after Grade 10 in order to contribute to the family's finances by selling newspapers on the street and setting up pins in a bowling alley. In his spare time he continued to play soccer with various clubs.

By 1939, he was good enough to play on an all-star Canadian team against a touring Scottish Football Association team. Arends guarded the net so well that one of the Scottish players recommended him to Motherwell Football and Athletic Club, a prestigious professional team from Scotland. The club sent Arends a bittersweet letter: Had it not been for the declaration of war against Germany, and the cancellation of football, they would have offered him a contract.

Disappointed, Arends attempted to join the Armed Forces but was rejected for unknown medical reasons. Instead, he began work in the shipping department at John Inglis and Co. (now Whirlpool Canada), at that time making munitions. The company had a formidable soccer team that he joined. He turned professional with the group in 1945. He could have approached Motherwell again but, by then, he was almost 30 and had two young children. He felt it was too late to move to Scotland.

"It was a big regret of his," says June.

In many ways, 1939 was a pivotal year for Arends. Assuaging the disappointment of his missed soccer opportunity was a young woman named Violet Cupit. The two met in the congregation of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church and they married on Feb, 11, 1939, when she was 20 years old. He was 23. They were devoted and inseparable for 60 years until Violet succumbed to Alzheimer's in 1999.

Arends' soccer career peaked postwar in the summer of 1946 when he played goal for the Chicago Vikings. He received no payment except expenses. His rangy 6-foot physique, muscled forearms and massive hands contributed to a victorious team.

They ended up winning the U.S. Open Cup in the U.S. National Championship. At the ensuing celebration, Arends imbibed for the first, and possibly last, time. He fell down some stairs and was unconscious for 10 days.

His wife had to tell her children their father might never come back.

But return he did, and the following fall was back in Toronto with the newly formed Toronto Greenbacks in the North American Professional Soccer League. The director of publicity for the Greenbacks described Arends as "Catlike in his ability." He said, "When in goal Arends actually appears to stalk a player as a cat does a mouse. His anticipation of an approaching shot on his goal usually finds him waiting for the ball long before it arrives."

Arends' payment was in shares that turned out to be worthless. In the following years, touring European teams frequently encountered his imposing figure, playing goal for Ontario. More often than not he was reported to be a star of the game, but his shot at international fame and glory had been lost to history.

Despite working six days a week at Inglis, taking extra delivery jobs and playing soccer, Arends made sure he spent time with his growing family. Between 1941 and 1961, the couple had six children: Doug, Ron, June, Rick, Larry and Robyn. Beginning in the early 50s, until the brood had summer jobs and went away to university, Arends instigated an annual three-week camping and fishing expedition to Algonquin Park.

June remembers an overloaded old car that inevitably broke down, diapers strung up among the trees and waterlogged sleeping bags. "One year, we forgot the tent poles. There was much discussion about whether to turn around and get them but it was decided we'd go ahead. We had to improvise with branches. Dad was very handy at fixing things."

Something Arends was unable to fix was his wife's grief at the death of one of their sons. In 1982, on the stillest of summer days, 20-year old Larry was working on the muffler of his car. Despite the garage door being open, carbon monoxide fumes killed him. His parents arrived home to discover his lifeless body. Arends suppressed his feelings but son Doug says, "My mother was never the same after that. She came undone."

Given a great deal of encouragement and freedom by both parents, the remaining children all went to university and completed degrees. From 1966 to 1970 Ron Arends played defensive back for the Toronto Argonauts. His father never missed a game.

Arends retired from Inglis in the summer of 1982 when he was 66. Always a keen bowler, he took up bowling competitively, winning many championships at O'Connor Bowl in East York. He played until he was well into his nineties. Until his death on May 5 at the age of 96, he was the oldest living player to be inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.

His biography from the CSHF reads: "One of Canada's top goalkeepers just before World War Two and in the years during and just after the war. If there had been a Canadian national team in his day Dick Arends would surely have represented his country."

As a goalie, Arends was masterly. As a family man he was exemplary. Says June, "He was a fabulous father. I don't think they make them any better."

He leaves Doug, Ron, Rick, June and Robyn and their families.

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