Club history courtesy of Peter Denby.

The history of the Club is one of growth from a single team in the 40’s to the 110+ youth and adult Bays United teams of today. An underlying theme in the story has been the struggle to effectively combine the senior and juvenile organizations.

The original Oak Bay Soccer team, formed in 1946 by men such as Ernie Costain and Neil Swainson, played in the Victoria and District League until it disbanded in 1951. In that short period it left its’ mark by winning the 1948-49 Jackson Cup and the 1949-50 McGavin Cup.

The Oak Bay name next appeared in local soccer as the Oak Bay Optimists youth organization, formed in 1958 to promote boys’ soccer in Oak Bay. Ernie Costain, Jack Okell and Harry Youson were among the founders of the Optimists who sponsored seven teams, one in each division of the Victoria and District Juvenile Soccer League.

In the early 60’s, a senior team bearing the name Oak Bay played in the Combination League. Dave Edgar, Hamish Simpson, Len Lane and Stan Turner were among the Oak Bay players. This group disbanded before the end of the decade, and in 1969, the amalgamation of the Canadian Scottish and the Oak Bay Optimists juvenile teams laid the foundation for the present day format of the club.

At the close of the 1968-69 season, the members of the Canadian Scottish Soccer Club saw the need for a regional soccer association similar to that of the successful Gorge organization. At the time, several members of the Canadian Scottish, such as Arthur Rostron and Ken Hibbert, were also involved with the Oak Bay Optimists juvenile teams, so it was natural that these two organizations should amalgamate to form the Oak Bay Soccer Association. In August 1969, the first elected executive of the association consisted of Arthur Rostrun-chairman, Ken Wright-treasurer, Ken Hibbert-secretary, Stan Turner and Arthur Welman-members at large, David Keith-director of coaching, Derick Sewell-director of public relations and Ernie Costain-auditor. It should be noted that the senior and juvenile teams retained their own executive. Although this may have seemed logical at the time it turned out to be an obstacle to the development of a strong and effective organization.

For the 1969-70 season, the fledgling organization fielded teams in the 1st and 3rd Divisions of the Victoria and District League, as well as seven juvenile teams. The first team was managed by Art Roston with Rob Jantzen (then Ron Jenkins) as coach and Derick Sewell as trainer. Among the players were Kjeld Brodsgaard, Rick Couch, Stan Wiseman, Jerry Home, Russ Lamb, Tony Quinn, Franz Van Doesburg, John Hughes, John Rostron Jr., Peter Mason and George Pakos.

The next significant date was 1972 when the Oak Bay Soccer Association joined forces with the Oak Bay Wanderers Rugby Club under the umbrella organization of the Oak Bay Sports Club which purchased a property at 1928 Oak Bay Avenue to be used as a clubhouse. The initiative for this move came from Peter Denby on the soccer side and Mike Antolin on the rugby side. These two Brits, who had recently moved to Victoria from Bermuda, missed the Old-country pub and club atmosphere and started to promote the idea of a joint venture to their respective teams. Joe Grosso, a local businessman associated with the soccer club, liked the idea and put his considerable business skills to work to make the dream a reality.

The clubhouse proved to be a great social gathering place for the players and their families and, as a result, other teams were attracted to it. Oak Bay cricket and grass hockey teams became associate members. Except for some of those invited to attended VISL disciplinary hearings, held at the clubhouse for some years, a good time was had by all and it looked as though the Oak Bay Sports Club would go from strength to strength. Unfortunately, the ensuing years proved otherwise. For various reasons the associate teams dropped out, with the final straw coming in 1991 when the rugby team moved out to combine forces with the Castaways Club. The soccer club became the sole owners of the property but found the financial demands too great and sold the building in 1993.

The clubhouse, however, had played in important role in the development of the Oak Bay Soccer Club. The camaraderie developed by the many social functions and after game gatherings together with the work of people like Tina Barristolo, Jos De Bruin, Peter Denby, Chuck Dilba, Jim King, Stan Turner and Scott Taylor attracted players to the club. In the 21 years that the clubhouse existed the number of teams increased from three to eleven. When the doors closed in 1993, Oak Bay Soccer Club was fielding the following teams: VISL Divisions 1 to 3 (2 teams), Div’s. 4, 5 and Over-30s (2 teams), Victoria Master Soccer League (1), LIWGSA Divisions 1 to 3 (1 team in each).

The juvenile teams, now known as Bays United Youth Soccer Association, had also grown in numbers but the link between the two organizations was tenuous at best. Juvenile teams did use the clubhouse for storage and the occasional meetings and some senior teams brought juvenile players up to gain experience. This was not what Art Rostron and friends had envisioned for the association in 1969, but this situation soon changed.

As in 1969, it was someone with strong ties to both senior and juvenile teams who initiated the change. In 1993, Scott Taylor was president of Bays United and player-manager of a senior men’s team. Thanks to his efforts, the senior and juvenile teams were finally combined under the name and crest of Bays United Soccer, although maintaining their independent organizations and executives. The only exception was the Oak Bay Old Boys of the South Vancouver Island Classics Soccer Association – these senior and long serving members of the club prefer to keep their original name.

In 2006, Hazel Braithwaite, president of the Bays Youth organization and Scott Taylor, president of the Bays Senior organization began proceedings which would lead to the final realization of Art Rostron’s dream, a fully unified club under the new name Bays United FC, where players can play their entire soccer career from age 5 to 50 and onward!