THE ANNING SPORT EXCELLENCE FROM TWO CONTINENTS
When Les Anning gives the match ball a thumping kick from the 4th Official touchline area it arrives with some accuracy on a direct kick spot or corner kick location on the other side of the pitch. Anning’s replacement ball for the one that’s lost deep in the end zone of a Canadian Soccer League match sends a message ‘let’s not keep them waiting’.
But that impressive accurate kick and the body language of the CSL operations manager reflects a unique set of experiences in sport that goes back several decades and takes place on two continents involving both soccer and ice hockey.
It all begins with Les Anning Sr. the father of the CSL’s Les Anning, who was a top flight hockey ace in the UK with more than 600 games for London-based Wembley Lions and others in the 1940s and 1950s. Remarkably, one of the records set in the history of Britain’s ice hockey is Anning’s long run of games played without missing a single match through injury. The elder Les Anning was renowned in Britain as the fastest skater and most consistent scorer of his era. During the years following his arrival from Canada in 1946 he was the talk of the town and sought-after sport celebrity for advertising while playing in the Wembley community located in the north-west of the British capital, a location famous also for nearby Wembley Stadium, home of the England national soccer team.
While in the UK Anning also played for Wembley Monarchs and later for Earl’s Court Rangers in London, Brighton Tigers on the south coast and Ayr Raiders in Scotland. There were many goal scoring feats with All Star appearances and an induction into the British ice hockey Hall of Fame.
Anning Sr. ended his UK and European hockey career in Sweden, returning to Canada in the 1960s.
The CSL’s Les Anning (Jr.) was born and raised in a hockey environment at Rimouski, Quebec, located on the banks of the St.Lawrence. But as time went by, soccer became his game of choice and when the family moved to the UK in his late teens, his skills were obvious enough to be offered high level trials which included London club Tottenham Hotspur.
On returning to Canada and with the friendship of the former Tottenham and Scottish international goalkeeper Bill Brown involved in the Canadian game, Anning was offered an opportunity with the Toronto Falcons, in the 1960s the most recent top pro team based in Toronto and playing out of Varsity Stadium as a member of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) and the newly formed North American Soccer League (NASL). In the early 2000s Anning was assistant coach with the Toronto Lynx of the US-based A-League while also its equipment manager.
Les Anning Jr. joined the CSL in 2021, was appointed Operations Manager in 2022 and for many years has also been an active referee officiating throughout Southern Ontario.
Sports excellence is obviously deeply ingrained in his personality and in his blood, whatever the game may be.
Today, the CSL and Canadian soccer are the beneficiaries.
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