Burlington Braves celebrate 50 years of junior football

Junior football has yet to play a game in the 2007 season, but the Braves feel they have already scored a couple of touchdowns.

Burlington’s entry in the Ontario Football Conference celebrates 50 seasons of junior football this year and will mark the half century achievement with a number of events.

The Braves and the Burlington Minor Football Association will join forces, operating under the umbrella of the BMFA. It’s a marriage that comes after lengthy discussions and will streamline operations administratively and financially.

In addition to the amalgamation of organizations, the Braves alumni have organized a reunion dinner and game to mark the 50th anniversary. The dinner will take place on Aug, 16 at the Royal Botanical Gardens with the Homecoming Game scheduled the following day at Nelson Stadium.

The Braves will play the Tri-City Vipers, this season’s newest member of the OFC. The Vipers have operated as an independent junior football club since 1995 and draw players from the Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph-Cambridge areas. When Burlington fielded its first Braves team in 1958, they played the now defunct Kitchener Dutchmen in what was then the Ontario Rugby Football Union.

That first Burlington team – and almost every Braves team that followed until his death in 2000 – represented the efforts and dedication of Al Lambert. The club recognized his tireless work 20 years ago by making the founding member and the team’s first manager, its honourary president. At about the same time, the club named its rookie of the year award, the Al Lambert Trophy.

And this year, the Braves will call their clubhouse at Nelson Stadium, the Al Lambert Field House.

The Braves open their eight-game schedule on Aug.4. All home games will be played at Nelson Stadium. The 2007 schedule is:

Aug. 4, 7 p.m., home to Windsor AKO Fratmen.

Aug. 12, 2 p.m., away to London Beefeaters.

Aug. 17, 7 p.m., home to Tri-City Vipers, Burlington Braves.

Aug. 25, 7 p.m., away to St. Leonard (Montreal) Cougars.

Sept. 8, 7 p.m., away to Windsor AKO Fratmen.

Sept. 15, 7 p.m., home to London Beefeaters.

Sept. 23, 2 p.m., away to Tri-City Vipers Kitchener.

Sept. 29, 7 p.m., home to St. Leonard Cougars.

Playoffs will begin on Oct. 6

The Braves head coach is Graig Davoren.

Tickets, at $80 per person for the reunion dinner can be purchased at: South Side Men’s Wear, 28 King Street East, Hamilton; D.R. Higgins Chiropractor, 2421 New Street, Burlington; Gold Star Seat Cover, 15 Teal Drive, Stoney Creek; by emailing bravesalumni@hotmail.com or telephoning 905-317-1561.

The Braves hope to attract as many as possible former players and coaches to the dinner.