Sports Wall of Fame

O'Connor, Dan

O'Connor, Dan
Full size image of plaque

Dan O’Connor’s 67 year involvement in soccer began as a player in his home town of Charleston by Dunfermline, Fife in Scotland. While in Scotland, Dan played on several local amateur teams and was the founder of a soccer association. During World War II, Dan served in the Royal Air Force. In 1951, he moved to Canada with his family and after 18 months in Toronto, Dan’s family relocated to Niagara Falls.

After seven years of living in Niagara Falls, Dan teamed up with his son, John O’Connor, and friend, John Cooke, to organize a youth soccer league. Little did he know, that he would become the founding father of a popular and successful minor soccer league in Niagara Falls. Dan saw his dream realized with the opening game of a six-team league comprising of 100 youngsters, in 1959. Pleased with the success of the first year, the league held a banquet for the young boys at no cost.

In its second year, the league grew from six teams to fourteen. The buzz around a new minor soccer league in Niagara Falls was growing. Dan’s soccer dream did not end in Niagara Falls, as he also played an instrumental role in the creation of a regional league and was indirectly responsible for starting the St. Catharines Minor Soccer League and was promoting the Peninsula League.

In 1962, Dan coached the Niagara Falls team, winning the first A.C. Douglas Memorial Tournament, which may have been the first soccer tournament in Ontario, and possibly Canada. In May 1981, the Niagara Falls Youth Soccer Club named their second annual blossom tournament after Dan.

By the year 1982, the year of Dan’s passing, more than 1200 boys were playing Minor Soccer on more than 75 teams. Dan never expected the sport to grow in Niagara Falls as much as it did. Dan received awards from both City Council and the Niagara Falls Youth Soccer Club. His legacy lives on through a girls minor soccer team named the “O’Connor Pars” and on a plaque at Mitchelson Park, with the dedication“In Memory of Dan O’Connor - Founder of Minor Soccer in Niagara Falls”. 

Additional Images & Resources

Original image  Original image
From the library's image database (click the link to view the full record)

Title Niagara Falls Virtual Sports Wall Of Fame - Dan O’Connor Builder - Soccer 1971-1990 Era
Notes  Inducted January 13, 2008
Family members accepting the award  Family members accepting the award
From the library's image database (click the link to view the full record)

Title 19th Annual Sports Wall of Fame ceremony at Niagara Falls
Description  Mayor Ted Salci (right)
Date  January 13, 2008.
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