Noonan, the athletic trainer for the UBC football team, was hired to provide support for the Russians during their four games in Canada. He spent every waking hour with them, and gained the rarest of glimpses into the individuals on that stoic team.
“They needed someone to eat, sleep and drink – well, not drink, though we had the odd vodka – eat, sleep and live with the Russians,” said Mr. Noonan, who is now 68 and living in retirement at Naramata. “I was the first one on the tarmac in Montreal when the Aeroflot jet landed. From then on, I was always last on and first off the bus.”
He spent every moment of every day with the Russian players, catering to their wishes and anticipating their needs. He accompanied them to a screening of The Godfather. He was the only Canadian to have regular access to the Soviet locker room.
He kept them supplied with Coca-Cola – they gulped 72 bottles after one practice – and ensured tea with lemon was supplied in the locker room between periods.
While the Canadian public – and some of the Canadian players – thought of the Russians as robots, the trainer had a more intimate glimpse.
“They were subdued. Quiet. They didn’t get over-emotional. They didn’t panic,” he said.
Alexander Ragulin was the team chatterbox, while Boris Mikhailov was the team clown.
Here's the full story. Fantastic stuff from Tom Hawthorn as always.
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