Ken Neville was a midfielder for Hobart from 1928 to 1931. He played with some notable old school players such as Galbraith, Van Giesen, Wheat, Bootay, and O’Connor under coach Babe Kraus.
Afterword, he fought in World War 2 and became a Major in the Marine Corps. This is where the story takes a really cool turn.
After the war, the veteran stayed in the Marines as an instructor. Then, in 1946, he pulled off something unheard of at the time. Ken sent a Marine c-47 airplane back to his alma matter to fly the current Hobart team to Quantico, VA, for a game.
The Hobart lacrosse team became the first team from the university to ever fly to a game. Better yet, they took down the Quantico Marines 6 to 4.
Ken lives on through his son, Mark Neville, who covets the crosse his father gave him at age 18. I learned all of this before Mark Neville asked me if I would restore his family heirloom.
His hope was to pass it on to the next generations of his family.
Bringing the Neville Crosse Back to Life
I must admit, that even with all of the repairs and restorations we do here at WoodLacrosseSticks.com, the project had me a bit nervous.
The stick had begun to back bend. This is when the stick starts to pull itself straight again. There is sadly no chance of a successful re-bend after all of this time.
The fragility of the stick also stopped me from removing the tape. Often times, players would use this tape to reinforce stress fractures in the wood. The shaft was true and straight, and the weight was balanced.
A new gut wall was soaked and the old pocket was removed.
Sinew is a string made of animal fibers and tissues that connect bone to muscle. I tend to talk people out of it due to the fact that it is very rigid.
It can be dangerous to throw and catch with a stiff pocket if you are using an aged and damaged cross.
Mark wanted this to be made of the same materials so that when he gave it to the next in the family, it would feel like it did when his father gave it to him.
You may be asking yourself, “If you are trying to reconstruct an old-style pocket, then why did you add the shooting string?” which is a fair enough question.
If the ball is allowed to hit the top of the crosse, it runs the risk of snapping the aged wooden scoop of the stick. I have seen them snap right off.
I both respect and appreciate Mark Neville’s trust. It is obvious that he loves his father, and I hope this re-fabrication can help pass along Ken’s legacy.
Come back around for another Wood Stick Wednesday and see what else I’ve brought back to life!