WILLIAM (BILL) THOMAS PATCHELL
(March 16, 1891 – June 4, 1930)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1921-1924)
A deep defensive player who played the point and coverpoint positions around his own goal, William ‘Bill’ Patchell turned pro late in the 1921 season with the New Westminster Salmonbellies. In 26 games played across four seasons between 1921 and 1924, he bagged 2 goals and committed 12 penalties for 37 minutes. In his debut season, he won accolades and respect for his weighty body-checks and use of the lumber.
In 1928, he accompanied the Canadian Olympic team to Amsterdam to participate in the lacrosse demonstration – although he only played in the exhibition matches played en route through Eastern Canada and later in the Netherlands, as his former professional status prevented him from participating in the actual Olympic demonstration matches. Just prior to departure across the Atlantic, Gordon ‘Grumpy’ Spring had to turn back for home due to business matters and Bill Patchell took over the coaching reigns.
A native of the Sapperton neighbourhood in New Westminster, Patchell worked for the Brunette Lumber Company – officially as their sales manager, although he was practically the superintendent of the sawmill operations. Outside of lacrosse, he was known to be a keen boxing enthusiast and refereed matches.
Bill Patchell sadly succumbed to an early death at just 39 years of age. In apparent good health, he had suddenly fallen ill and was admitted to Royal Columbian Hospital. A week later and recovering from a bout of pneumonia, his doctors then advised that he needed an operation for appendicitis and should return. The operation was unsuccessful – one newspaper report stated that Patchell had returned to Royal Columbian too ill on arrival for surgery. He passed away overnight just after three o’clock in the morning.
In 2012, the 1928 Olympic team that Bill Patchell helped coach was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
(PHOTO SOURCES: CLHOF X994.113; X994.16; CLHOF collection)