by Ike Richman
The Major Indoor Lacrosse League’s North American Cup, awarded to the League champion for the past eight seasons, could tell you some interesting stories from the 1994 season.
Moments after defeating the two-time defending league champion Buffalo Bandits, the Philadelphia Wings brought the Cup back to the Buffalo Hilton to celebrate with 250 of their faithful fans who had made the seven-hour bus trip. After exiting the bus, rookie forward Steve Govett gave the trophy to Harvey who hoisted it high above his head as if he had been a major part of the victory. Harvey passed the Cup to the next guy who did the same thing. People came running to the bus to congratulate the team. Others had rushed the scene to touch the Cup.
“The Wings fans are a major part of our team,” said Head Coach Tony Resch. “By sharing the Cup with our fans, we wanted to let them know how much we appreciate all of their continued support.” For the next hour outside of the Buffalo Hilton fans posed for photographs with the Cup, some of them stood next to it while others, like a player celebrating on the field, hoisted it above their heads.
It was soon time for the team dinner and Govett appointed himself as the keeper of the Cup for the night. “l was so excited; there wasn’t any way I was letting that Cup out of my sight,” said Govett. At the Buffalo airport the following morning, the USAir flight attendant told the team that the Cup had to be loaded with the rest of the team’s equipment under the plane. A team spokesperson insisted that the Cup stay on the plane with the team. Since Tom Marechek decided to stay in Buffalo an extra day, the Cup stayed in Marechek’s seat for the duration of the flight.
Upon arriving at the Philadelphia International Airport, a group of 100 fans jammed the terminal, waiting to see the Cup. “Bring out the Cup, bring out the Cup,” they chanted. After the team came through the terminal with the Cup they passed it around to all of the fans so they could share in the excitement.
Days later, the Cup and the players had a reception at City Hall With Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell. Eve the Mayor wanted to hoist the Cup similar to the way the players had on the field at the Memorial Auditorium. Philadelphia fans have been craving a national championship – in any sport for the past decade.
Everyone wanted to share in the excitement. After a reception with the Mayor, the players had another celebration with their fans at the Maui Entertainment Complex in Philadelphia. WMMR’s Matt Cord, who doubles as the Wings public address announcer at the CoreStates Spectrum, introduced the Wings players who brought the Cup onto the volleyball court to pose for pictures with their fans. Again, the Cup was being passed around the complex so that everyone could feel a part of the excitement. It was then a couple of weeks off for the Cup, who soon would attend an important wedding. It was prior to the 1994 Wings’ season that coach Dave Evans announced his retirement. Evans had been at the helm of the Wings for six seasons, leading them to two consecutive league titles in 1989 and 1990. The 1994 Wings were the team that Evans had put together.
On July 9, 1994, the Philadelphia Wings’ Mike French – best man at the wedding – was about to propose a toast when French realized that none of the players were in the room. Wings’ PR Director Ike Richman had asked French if he could make a special toast on behalf of the Wings. “Dave and Patti, for this next toast you will not need a cup,” Richman said. “For this toast I ask that the 1994 Major Indoor Lacrosse League Champions bring in the Cup for this toast.” The entire team, led by captain Scott Gabrielsen, had the Cup hoisted high on their shoulders. The Cup was put down in front of the newly-wedded couple and French emptied a bottle of champagne into the Cup. It was Evans’ turn to drink from the Cup. He wasn’t with the team when they won the Cup and he wanted to savor the victory. Even Patti drank from the Cup! Matter of fact, everyone drank from the Cup!
The Cup made its way back to Philadelphia where it remained for the next couple of months before it was off to the Philadelphia Wings/ MDA Fundraiser at St. Joseph’s University. Again, a familiar site, fans picking up the Cup and raising it above their heads for photos.
The Philadelphia Wings are Philadelphia’s team. The fans are a part of the team. After this past summer, they can say that they held the Cup. The World Championship Cup!