Archie was born in 1927 and he clearly had a love of the sport from a tender age. Stan Shillington, in writing the history of BC Lacrosse, commented that during the late 1930s, a skinny little blond kid picked up a lacrosse stick in New Westminster and pronounced he had found his game. Older, wiser box lacrosse buffs chuckled, pointing out that, although the youngster was lightning-quick, he was too slight to endure the rough and tumble sport.
But Archie Browning built a net in his back yard and practiced until he could put that ball between the posts from any angle. After that, he attached a lard tin to each top corner and shot for the tins. At 17, he and lifetime buddy, Whitey Severson, tried out for the New Westminster Junior team, but were cut because both were considered too small. Not to be denied, they then tried out, and made, the Adanacs Senior club. As a matter of fact, Archie won the 1945 Rookie of the Year award by notching 61 points. After six years of stellar play elsewhere, Archie arrived in Victoria and commenced a run of eight seasons with the Shamrocks.
His hard work and shooting accuracy earned him accolades and he was named the Western League's playoff MVP in 1953. He captured the Western scoring title in 1951 and shared the same award with Severson in 1952. Archie took part in seven Mann Cup Championships in his career with three of those as a Shamrock. After two seasons coming up just short, the Shamrocks found the answer and they defeated their traditional rivals from Peterborough in the national final. The Daily Colonist headlines read "Victoria Goes Wild as Shamrocks Take Coveted Mann Cup."
Archie was one of the games truly great players and columnist, Denny Boyd, once wrote, "I think Archie Browning is the greatest lacrosse player I have ever seen. Jack Bionda has more flamboyance and more tricks, but I have never seen anyone who could do more offensively or defensively, who could shoot with such fantastic precision, or who played as hard as this little blond with the bleached eyebrows."
Archie wasn't just one of the brilliant lacrosse players of his generation. He gave back to the community in many ways including coaching junior box lacrosse between 1953 and 1958. He spent more than a decade as President, Director and Head Coach of the Esquimalt Minor Lacrosse Association, and he was a widely respected policeman on the Esquimalt Police Force.
Sadly, his life ended on November 18, 1989 at the age of 62, a victim of cancer. Two years later, the community he served, both as an athlete and a policeman, honoured him by officially renaming the Esquimalt Sports Centre the Archie Browning Sports Centre.
SPONSORED BY THE VICTORIA SHAMROCKS LACROSSE TEAM