The undisputed rulers of Canadian Senior A men’s basketball in the late 1960s, the IGA Grocers held the national title for three consecutive years from 1966-68.

Under coach Mel Brown and team manager Ted Milton, the IGA Grocers (named for the grocery chain owned by their sponsors, Bill and Tong Louie) won the Vancouver city title in four straight games in 1966. They then went on to defeat the reigning national champions in four consecutive games to capture the BC Senior men’s title. In accordance with the rules, the team picked up Neil Dirom (Alberni Athletics) and Bill McDonald (ex-Byng) in their bid for the Canadian title.

That year, the national championship was an inter-province, round-robin, double knock-out tournament. The IGA Grocers lost their first game, but came back to win the next five in succession, including two exhausting games on the final day of the tournament. In fact, when they met the St. Andrews Dunlops from Winnipeg in the final, the IGA Grocers had battled through four games in less than 48 hours, while their opponents were coming off two days rest.

In 1967 the team defended their Canadian champion status in Port Alberni against another Winnipeg team. The Port Alberni squad was subsequently named Sport BC’s Team of the Year. In 1968, traveling to Wolfville, Nova Scotia, the team again captured the Senior men’s basketball crown with a 74-51 win over the Halifax Schooners. At the time, the IGA Grocers were only the second Canadian team to take the title three years running, and achieved their national championship without ever having the “home court” advantage.

Team Members:
Al Birtles, Mel Brown (coach), George Carter, Neil Dirom, Mel Hoff, Vince Knight, John Kootnekoff, Don Leakey (trainer), Bill and Tong Louie (sponsors), Norris Martin, Bill McDonald, Ted Milton (manager), Billy Joe Price, Vic Rahn, Gene Rizak, Jim Turriff.