Sports give this ardent fan a charge

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:05 PM ET

Superfan Terry Kelly surveyed the John Labatt Centre and pronounced it "electric" before expanding on that to encompass his Oshawa Generals. "We're going to have to be electric when the Knights come to town (tomorrow)," the longtime Generals man and widely travelled sports nut said yesterday. "Look at it this way: London beat Kingston 14-1 and Kingston is 19 points ahead of us."

Kelly was in town to get a peek at the JLC to determine whether it might fit plans for a new Oshawa arena. He led the drive to build the Oshawa Civic Centre 40 years ago.

Interesting time frame, that. The city gets to own the JLC once it hits 40 years.

There are parallels outside the life of an arena. If the Knights have a top team in a new building, the Generals experienced something similar four decades ago.

A guy named Bobby Orr turned up at age 14 to make his first long strides toward hockey superstardom and helped pack the new 4,000-seat fixture.

The verdict by Kelly, a federal prosecutor and renowned traveller to most of the world's major sporting events, was straightforward. The JLC is a great arena in a superb spot with reams of parking but it doesn't fit the dilapidated neighbourhood site favoured by some Oshawa politicians.

Over the years, the fellow who provided the defence in dozens of murder trials has spent his free time not killing but wreaking a bit of financial harm to scalpers in dozens of countries at dozens of sports events.

He says it's important to negotiate just before a game begins -- or even after it has started -- anywhere in the world.

He didn't want to take his chances last night in London and bought his standing-room ticket in advance.

Some well-to-do partners in successful law firms get into aviation, yachting or other expensive pursuits. But Kelly gets his kicks from sports.

Whether it's attending three World Cup soccer games in a day among the 10 championships he has been to, or walking through an open door to see some Wimbledon tennis matches free, it hasn't been cheap.

Not when World Cups have been as far afield, as the last one in Korea and Japan or an earlier one in Argentina.

It could be a visit to the Cotton Bowl when he was a director with the Toronto Maple Leafs in for a game in Dallas, or it could be going to see the first period of a major junior game in Mississauga, followed by a jaunt over to a Brampton Battalion game for the second period.

"I love to capture the atmosphere," he says.

Kelly has been to 80 of the 92 key soccer stadiums in England but he has also been to places like the park where Pete Rose played minor league ball.

He won't be at tomorrow's Super Bowl. He says he was at the best one in 1988 when San Francisco and Joe Montana beat Cincinnati in Miami.

Kelly caught a break.

"I bought a ticket from a scalper and turns out the chap I was sitting beside was an old NFL player," he recalled.

"What I found interesting was how he considered the modern players as being so much better. He was an ideal guy to sit beside for an explanation of the little things in a game."

As Kelly said, he loves the electricity surrounding a game, and the thought brought back his initial concern.

The aging Oshawa Civic Centre is sold out tomorrow, and no matter how much the Generals' batteries are charged, he fears it won't be enough for the Knights.


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