Coverdale Park

Softball-Paul Currelly

Paul Currelly w-wife




Paul Currelly’s leadership contribution to the longstanding success of the Cobourg Angels is well documented in the records of the CDSHF. Shedding light on the important aspects of Paul’s leadership style might serve to provide insight into how the unparalleled and long-term success of the Angels transpired.

Seen as one story, the narrative connects 6 decades with many worthy individuals contributing to the success for various lengths of time. There is a common thread that links all of these very capable people, players, and coaches alike. Paul Currelly meticulously built an organization that was often one step ahead of the changing circumstances that local sports almost inevitably face.

So, what were the skills that Paul Currelly had that went far beyond the teaching of fundamentals? A focus on detail and organization, an eye for talent (coaches and players) as well as persistence and planning for the next stage of team development.

Little of the long term and sustained success of the Angels could have been anticipated when the foundation of the team and organization was created during the 1960’s. Cobourg Baseball, Legion Branch 133 Minor Softball and Church League Hockey were already in place as athletic outlets for boys. The fact that Paul and his lovely wife Marian had 3 daughters was the first act that directed Paul’s considerable energy towards making athletic opportunities for girls.

At no point would it be suggested that Paul (and Marian of course) claimed that family planning was part of the early beginnings of the Angels story.  As it turned out, perhaps hundreds of girls and young women would end up seeing themselves as a part of a very special sports family. Indeed, many of them would have viewed the Currelly residence as a welcoming second home.



Long before the term “hub” became popularized, a relatively spacious back yard in the east end neighbourhood of Coverdale became a hub or gathering place for the friends and neighbours of the two older Currelly daughters, Carol and Nancy. Time spent there was often dedicated to playing “mildly” competitive games such as tag, running and jumping and of course softball. The kids had a safe and nurturing place to play centred on sports and most probably numerous breaks for snacks. He and Marian initially provided their own equipment from their former playing days. When the Coverdale area kids began house league play, Paul scoured the town and the local district for all manner of used articles. He also sought contributions from people such as Clarke Sommerville (another CDSHF inductee) to round off the considerable stockpile.

As is almost always the case, young children outgrow the limits of the backyard. In the case of the Angels’ story, this may have been the first time that Paul displayed his capacity to adapt to changing circumstances during the long history of the Aces/Angels organization. He helped initiate the idea of developing a house league based on geographic neighbourhoods. Other key founders from the various neighbourhoods included Max Smith, John Copeland, Jack Bevan, Garry Jones, Donald Dunn, and Ross Burgess. Their combined efforts came to fruition as the Cobourg Town League’s inaugural season came to pass in 1963.


Participation in the newly formed league was enthusiastically received by the neighbourhood girls. Registration was held at nearby Merwin Greer School where the Coverdale Aces also played their home games.

During the early years, the Coverdale neighbourhood was amalgamated into the Town of Cobourg and Paul negotiated a deal with the municipality to build a softball diamond located in what is now Peter Delanty Park. This achievement was characterized by a somewhat unique innovation. The topsoil from the construction of Brook Road North was redeployed to the park. Paul, as the story goes, agreed to spread the topsoil himself using a borrowed tractor in exchange for having the municipality build a backstop and infield for a softball diamond.

Of the three Currelly sisters, Patsy ended up playing house league games there while the older sisters moved their games to the Victoria Park diamond. Certainly, Paul’s facilitation benefited his youngest daughter, but he also helped leave a legacy for the Town and the local neighbourhood as a whole. Subsequently, the diamond was suitably named, The Paul Currelly Diamond.

Over the course of the time that the Coverdale Aces played in the Cobourg Town League, the team registered a winning streak of 52 games and numerous undefeated seasons. Ironically, Paul and his teams never again quite reached that level of statistical accomplishment. Yet the early successes, foreshadowed a story of outstanding and enduring achievement that continued even after Paul Currelly had passed.



By 1968, the era of house league dominance had ended for the teams that the older sisters, Carol and Nancy, played on. A Juvenile team was formed from the best players in the house league. Now that Paul’s teams played at the central softball venue of Victoria Park, he often could be seen spreading sawdust on the wet diamond or even going as far as borrowing a pump from Cobourg Lumber to make a soaked diamond playable for an early evening game.

Previous to the season, Paul saw the value of having the Juvenile team participate in the nearby well-established Durham League which was principally composed of a group of adult teams. The quality of the league provided a new challenge and motivation for Currelly’s Juvenile team. In that very same year, the Juveniles successfully made the competitive leap by winning the Durham League Championship. The beginning of a new chapter was being written.



By 1972, Paul spearheaded the formation of The Lakeshore Juvenile Girls Softball League and his third and youngest daughter Patsy joined the team as a bat girl. Her inclusion as a bat girl was the first step that would eventually see her develop into a first-rate catcher. Both Carol and Nancy had successful early stints as pitching mainstays before they transitioned to infield positions. The Cobourg Angels experienced nearly immediate success as they were PWSA Juvenile Finalists in 1973. This was followed by a league championship in 1975 and two provincial Junior gold medals in 1975 and 1976.

What has always been a hallmark of Paul Currelly’s managing style, namely adapting to the needs, and changing circumstances of his players, manifested itself when Paul helped to establish a new league for his now Midget Angels. Patsy, Paul’s youngest daughter became a catching mainstay throughout the Angels’ most successful era.


Paul’s accurate evaluation of his players’ talent resulted in near immediate results. In 1977, the Midget Angels captured both the Claremont Tournament and the Lakeshore League Championship. By 1979, the Juvenile Angels claimed another PWSA championship as well as a number of provincial tournaments including the well-established local Grafton Tournament run by Dick Raymond. It is probably worth mentioning that the ‘79 team had a 50-7 season record which came close to the 52 wins recorded during the earliest house league seasons.

After 1979, the Angels transitioned to the Junior classification. In 1981, the Angels were provincial finalists, while in 1981 and 1982 the team accumulated a number of tournament and Lakeshore League successes. By this time, Paul may have seen that the team had perhaps reached a competitive ceiling and so, as the 1980’s unfolded, he shifted gears and directions once again. By the end the 1980’s, the decade might have been considered as the golden era for his Angels.



Most highly competitive sports organizations eventually need to recruit in order to maintain or improve upon their competitive position. Once Paul’s teams emerged from a neighbourhood house league format, he began to attract players such as Peggy Kernaghan from the local rural area. The approach would eventually lead to the recruitment of players from Oshawa, north to Peterborough and east to Belleville. An early example of Paul’s approach to recruiting was evident when he recruited players from the surrounding area. Part of Paul’s recruitment strategy was to invite his wife Marian on “Sunday afternoon drives” that inevitably ended up at a prospect’s home. Currelly used his accumulated good will to arrange summer jobs for players in the Cobourg area.

Additionally, before the girls had drivers’ licenses, he would ensure their attendance at games and practices by arranging rides to and from the activity. It must have been evident to almost all of the people associated with the organization that Paul had very high expectations for himself and of course he similarly held high expectations for his players. An excerpt from one of Paul’s season end banquet speeches reveals the understood contract between players and the community they represented...


Our main objective is to have fun, to teach you the fundamentals and guide you through the wins and losses with the proper attitude. We demand a full effort at all times for we know that the harder we work, the more successful we will be. We also want you to realize that when you pull on the green and gold uniform, you represent a lot of people, the Town of Cobourg, Harnden and King Construction, your coaches, your parents, and most of all, yourselves. I must say that we were proud of the way you conducted yourselves this past season.


Outstanding players generally want to have a well-supported and structured environment with high expectations. Early hints of Paul Currelly’s successful recruitment based on the “Angels Brand” was manifested when outstanding Oshawa area pitcher Joan VanderZyden joined the team during the 1970’s. Another significant recruiting move brought in Hastings area player Su Morrow to play first base and pitch. Jim Morrow, Su’s father, would also join Paul Currelly to form a coaching combination that lasted into the 1990’s.

Over the course of the 1980’s, Paul identified considerable talent that would blend with the team’s character and positional needs. His efforts yielded 2 elite pitchers, (Elaine Devlin and Janice Cosgrey), the return of CDSHF Hall of Fame inductee Margie Mathews as well as perhaps the most prolific, fence clearing power hitter in PWSA history, Isobel “Izzy” Nichols. Speedy, hitting outfielders, Lea Ann Quinn and Vicki Wodzak were also recruited while the addition of Cathy Fertile and Lynn Lucas added depth to the infield.


The recruiting efforts yielded impressive results which allowed the Angels to make the competitive leap to Senior Tier II. Joining the Senior Tier II bracket cleared the way for the Angels to eventually leave their mark at the highest Provincial Tier I level. This tier of competition also provided the possibility for the Angels to compete for a Canadian National Championship nearly a decade later.

The decision to join the Senior Tier II bracket immediately paid off! The reorganized 1983 Angels won a bronze medal at the provincials that year and acquired Senior Tier II Provincial Championships in ‘84 and 85 and again in 1987. In 1988, the team was one out away from going to the Canadian Championships and settled for a Tier I silver medal.

Thereafter, Paul began to step back from his lead managerial role but the team continued its success by winning a Tier I Gold medal and with it, an unexpected storybook trip to the Canadian Championships in 1990.



In 1987, Paul Currelly, along with Faye Gaudet, Su Morrow, Jan (Bevan) Bradford and Bill Zinkie, among others formed a new minor girls’ organization with the appropriate title of Junior Angels. This organization served both competitive and house league female players. Paul was prominent as an organizer while spearheading the recruitment of sponsors and coaches as well as securing the use of playing fields, the purchase of equipment and the establishment of a league for the 4 provincial teams.

The present Angels continue to thrive as a highly successful entity despite a general decline in the sport within Canada. Since its birth, 6 provincial championships, as well as an Eastern Canadian Championship, have been accumulated as preparations begin for the 2022 season.



The impressive accumulation of provincial championships and other accolades cannot be the sole measures of success for someone such as Paul Currelly. A huge number of individuals have been influenced by his efforts and example. Paul’s consistently high expectations and structure provided an attractive environment for those players who had a competitive attitude. He must have held a deep affection and respect for the people who were fortunate enough to have been part of his extended sports family. 50 years is a long time to be so highly committed to creating such an excellent environment for girls fastball players.

Post Script

If Paul and Marian had 3 boys instead of daughters Carol, Nancy and Patsy, there is every reason to believe that a different path would have yielded similar results for all of those individuals fortunate enough to have been included in the journey.

Paul continued to coach into his late years as he joined with longtime friend and beloved Angels coach, Jim Morrow to guide a women’s Intermediate team. As a fitting bookend to Paul Currelly’s devotion to his family and sports community, he volunteered as a baseball coach for his grandson, Matt Williams. One of these teams, The Cobourg Black Sox, won a provincial championship in 1998.



The considerable number of articles, photographs, newspaper articles (Layton Dodge), memorabilia posted on the CDSHF Website, Paul Currelly’s notes and year end speeches and my personal memories from the 1980’s provided the foundation for the article.

The quality of the final version was improved by being granted the privilege of having numerous conversations with Carol Currelly-Burnham, Nancy Williams, and Patsy Hand (the 3 “sissies”). Their enthusiasm, warm memories, anecdotes and unrelenting “fact checking” breathed life into the narrative and allowed me to link the decades together into a story of sorts.

Finally, thanks also go out to present CDSHF Directors, Jennifer Ashley and Don Conway who both encouraged me to take on the task. I hope that my efforts will provide local sports fans and community members, as well as long distance internet visitors, a few minutes of enjoyable reading.

John Hayden Sr.


Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Tennis-Cobourg Tennis Club


In the 19th and early 20th centuries in Cobourg tennis was played by the well to do people. The working class had neither the time nor the money to participate. Tennis was played on grass. The dress code was white for men and long dresses for women. One of the first games of tennis actually recorded in Cobourg was in 1879 on Colonel Chambliss’ grass courts located on Green Street. Don Armour and Jack Cruso were the singles players.

Private courts were also located on the ‘Lawn’ at the southwest corner of Queen and Henry St. There were also two on St Peter’s Church property east of the church. In the west end of Cobourg, the Fullerton’s had lighted courts at their Bagot Street residence.

At the beginning of the 20th Century there was a growing demand for public courts. So in 1910 the Town Council committed to putting in two lighted clay courts in Victoria Park. They would be just west of the lawn bowling club and in the vicinity of the cenotaph.

This dramatically increased interest and participation in the game. A tennis club was formed and Cobourg participated in the Lakeshore League with Port Hope, Bowmanville and Peterborough. There were upwards of 50 active and enthusiastic members.

Theses courts remained the center of tennis in Cobourg until the arrival of Hurricane Hazel in 1954 which caused extensive damage to the courts. It was decided the cost of restoring the courts was too prohibitive and the courts ceased to exist and never returned to the park.

Players of note during the latter part of its existence included such notables at Paul Leonard, Del Dillon and Sol Margles. Of particular interest was Jim Burnett who, in one year won the Junior championship and the Senior one as well. Quite a feat!

Tennis went into the doldrums for a period. Players gravitated to the Port Hope Club to play and to the private clubs around the Town. In 1959 Major Ernie Carey and Major Waters had courts put in at the Army Depot on D’Arcy Street. The Depot raised funds to have the courts paved. The first indoor court in Cobourg also on Depot property in 1960 was a converted shipping bay. In 1959 St Michael’s Church constructed two new permanent tennis courts on its asphalt school yard. But they had limited success in keeping tennis alive in the Town.

It was not until the Rotary Club of Cobourg under Ted Prosser proposed to build and pay for three lighted courts at Sinclair Park in 1972 that interest came back. The cost was $30,000. Both the West and East Collegiates put in courts and Jim Burnett put up a trophy for annual competition between the two schools. Of note, the Burnett trophy was won by Peter Cameron for three consecutive years. No other student has ever done this.

The Cobourg Tennis Club had re-formed in 1969. Club teams competed in the Lakeshore League which included five other centers. In 1971 the first Cobourg Tennis Open took place with over 250 participants including the Ontario Men’s Champion.

In 1976 the Rotary Club of Cobourg fundraised another $30,000 to build three more courts in Coverdale Park in Hamilton Township, just east of Cobourg. The President that year was M.A. McLeod and the building was done in conjunction with Wintario Lotteries. The Coverdale Athletic Association was formed to supervise all activities. Membership was 150. The building of all these courts stimulated a golden age for tennis in the Town.

Today tennis continues to prosper at the two parks. New members are always welcome.

As a footnote to the tennis history is the success story of Michelle Tuma. She is a local young lady who graduated from St Mary’s High School. Michelle learned to play tennis in the community and went on to play at Ohio Northern University on a tennis scholarship. While there she held the number one tennis position in both singles and doubles. She is now a pharmacist practicing in the United States.

At the 2019 COSSA regional tennis championships finishing in top 3 were: Girls Singles – Chloe Leguard of CCI; Girls Doubles – Brooke Hoskin/Ashley Landsley of CCI; Boys Singles – Matt Enns of St Mary’s; Boys Doubles – Lewis Odurny/Ethan Fishlock of St Mary’s; Mixed Doubles – Neve Lehtinen/Jamie Slessor of St Mary’s.

Updated August 2020

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Facilities-Recreation: Outdoor Parks

Donegan Park mid-1900s

As of 2020, ten of the parks in Cobourg currently have recreational facilities.  There are 14 baseball/softball diamonds, 9 soccer fields, 6 tennis courts, 1 lawn bowling club, a canoe/kayaking club, a yacht club, and 1 basketball court. It has taken over 100 years of acquisition to create the park system we know today. Typically, Cobourg's parks began as private properties which were made available, by their owners, for public use.

Donegan Park (previously called Boulton’s Woods, Donegan Park, McClelland Park, Horseshow Park, Kiwanis Park, and then Donegan Park again) has been used for many activities over the years, including horse shows, football, soccer, rugby, softball/baseball, dancing, the Highland Games (est. 1963), skateboarding, and more. In the early years, there was a half mile track around the outside of the park where horse racing and greyhound racing took place. The Galloping Ghosts football team played here from 1935-1953. “Boulton’s Woods” was donated by Daniel Donegan and was formally opened in 1894.

Victoria Park was originally known as Perry’s Common. The land was originally owned by Ebenezer Perry. Perry was the 1st President of the Board of Police of Cobourg, in 1837, and as such is regarded as the 1st Mayor. Mayor J.D. Hayden and Council purchased the land in 1898 and began to develop it as a public park by planting trees, seeding grass and creating walkways. The total cost for the land was $1000 and the trees cost $400. The area was about 25 acres in size.

As the land where the Arlington Hotel, the Chateau Hotel, and Lakeview House had stood became available, they were purchased and became part of the park. The trailer park is located within the park’s boundaries. It was once used by the Lavis family to rent out cabins and canoes. There was a large slide built from the beach out into the water that was operated by the Lavis family.

It has been the home of many sports over the years, such as softball (diamond was demolished following the 2003 season), lawn bowling, beach volleyball, the Highland Games, and other recreational sports such as ultimate frisbee and sandcastle building on the beach. It also has 2 playgrounds, a splash pad, and a basketball court. The Lawn Bowling and Tennis Club was established in 1926. However, the lighted clay tennis courts beside the lawn bowling greens were damaged by Hurricane Hazel, in 1954, and were never replaced.

There was also a wading pool in Victoria Park which was built in 1951 and demolished in the late 1990’s. The Cobourg YMCA has an outdoor pool just west of the bandshell. The Cobourg Harbour, just west of Victoria Park has been home to the yacht club, canoe and kayak club, dragon boat racing, stand-up paddle-boarding, and more. Yachting regattas began in the 1860’s. The harbour was once used for swimming and diving competitions, during the Cobourg Labour Day Games.

Construction for Legion Fields started in 1994 and took 2 years to complete. It cost 1.4 million dollars to build and is a world-class softball facility. It includes 3 clay surface diamonds, two of which have lights. The complex also includes a building containing press/announcement rooms, change rooms, restrooms, a maintenance area, and a canteen. The 3 diamonds were named after Jack Bevan, Clarke Sommerville, and Layton Dodge – all prominent volunteers in the local sporting community.

Marty Cunningham, an Olympic torch relay participant, threw the first pitch at the ribbon cutting ceremony held on July 11, 1996. Deputy Reeve, Bob Spooner, was the master of ceremonies for the event, which concluded with a celebrity game between the Cold Springs Cats Masters team and the Coors Lite Pro Stars, a team made up of professional hockey players. The ribbon cutting ceremony was organized by the Northumberland Whiskey Jacks senior baseball team and the Town of Cobourg.

Legion Fields continues to be the location of many local, provincial, national and international competitions. In 2004, the main building at Legion Fields was named the “Bill O’Neil Pavilion” after Bill O’Neil who was a major sports volunteer in the community, particularly in ball. Bill O’Neil and Layton Dodge were both inducted into the Cobourg & District Sports Hall of Fame in 2019, while Clarke Sommerville was inducted in 2020.

Lion’s Park has 2 full-sized soccer fields and 2 smaller fields for children while the Rotary Field have 2 full size soccer fields and 3 smaller soccer fields. The Lion’s Fields and Rotary Fields were once a part of the old Military Supply Depot, on D’Arcy Street. The land was eventually sold to the Town of Cobourg and developed into soccer pitches by the Cobourg Soccer Club.

Rotary Waterfront Park, locally referred to as the “Frink”, is a fountain in the summertime and is a free outdoor skating rink in the wintertime. This park was built on the site of the Bird Archer plant. When Bird Archer closed, the Town bought the property for $1.00. The plant was demolished and the site de-contaminated. The outdoor rink and washroom were created with the support of the Ontario Government and the Town.

Peter Delanty Park, formerly called Coverdale Park, includes tennis and pickleball courts, a ball diamond, and playground. The 3 tennis courts were donated by the Rotary Club of Cobourg in 1976. The Park was then in Hamilton Township. The ball diamond was where the Cobourg Angels were ‘born’ under the coaching of Paul Currelly. 

Sinclair Park has 3 baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and a pickleball court. The tennis courts and washrooms were donated to the Town by the Rotary Club of Cobourg, in 1972.

Westwood Park is currently the home of the Cobourg Saxons Rugby Club. It has a rugby/soccer field and playground.

Morley Cane Park is a leisure park that includes a fenced hardball diamond. Morley Cane ran an electrical appliance shop on Chapel St. and a small outlet on King Street. On Saturday mornings, during the 1940’s and 50’s, he would drive through the streets of Cobourg in his sound truck announcing the Galloping Ghosts game to be played at Donegan Park that afternoon. His sound truck was used for many other sports events, too.

Morley was the Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board for most of the 1980’s. At that time, it was an independent board, not an advisory committee. The park was named after him in honour of his service to the Town. The Rotary Club of Cobourg, under President Jack Russell, put in the physical labour and funds to complete the ball diamond.

Lucas Point Park and Minnie Pennell Arboretum are naturalized parks that include a variety of walking trails. Minnie Pennell was the driving force in the 1990s behind the Ecology Gardens located just west of Legion Village.

James J. Tracey Park includes a fenced ball diamond, a playground, and community garden. The property was originally owned by the Knights of Columbus. It was deeded to the Town with the provision that it be named after James Tracey who was a Grand Knight for the Father Duffy Knights of Columbus in Cobourg. He was also the District Deputy of the Knights and in charge of three Councils. He was a Town Councilor and very involved in Legion Minor Softball, serving on the Executive.

Fitzhugh Park has a playground and basketball court. The Fitzhugh family were prominent 19th century citizens of Cobourg. They married into the Daintry family and were socially part of the ‘American Colony’, in Cobourg.

The Ecology Garden is a community garden with bird watching locations and is a naturalized area. It was established in 1996. As aforementioned, Minnie Pennell was the driving force behind the creation of Cobourg’s Ecology Garden. She once said, “An ecology garden has a great potential to become an invaluable inspiration and teaching tool for all gardeners, novice or experienced, and will bring together in a safe, pleasant outdoor work environment many different age groups”.

Since its inception, the Ecology Garden has facilitated the mentoring and education of local students who have gone on to university in related fields of ecological research. The garden has provided opportunities for growing vegetables organically, without chemical interventions. The food that has been grown has been donated to United Way agencies, shelters, transition homes, and more. The garden is located just south of Legion Village, along the boardwalk, and faces Lake Ontario. A variety of plants, including flowers, vines and fruits, grow there.

The Honourable James Cockburn Centennial Park, formerly called Rotary Gardens, came to fruition on September 17, 1967. Members of the Rotary Club of Cobourg cut down trees, built a dam, picked stones and used their plows to level and prepare the property as a park. Additional trees were planted and a parking lot created off Elgin Street. Seven Rotarians put up their money to buy a piece of property on the south-east side of the creek to round out the Park area. Over the years it has been used for youth soccer and softball. In 1971, the Rotary Club turned over the deed to the Ganaraska Conservation Authority who are now responsible for its maintenance.

Peace Park is located just west of Ontario Street, south of Tweed Street and north of Tremaine Terrace. Factory Creek is its western border. It has some playground equipment and is used by sport fishermen. It is a popular spot for lake trout and salmon. The park marks the terminus of the walking and hiking board walk promenade which stretches along the west beach and connects to the Marina and Victoria Park walkways. 

Many Cobourg parks offer sporting opportunities for its citizens and visitors, of all ages, and are a source of pride for the town. 

Updated August 2020

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.