In Appreciation of Les Grainger 1922 – 4th January 2011

Leslie Grainger passed away on Tuesday 4th January 2011 following a short illness, and he continues to be sadly missed by his lacrosse family.

With the passing of Les Grainger, Lacrosse has lost a man who has been a huge presence in the lives of many. Les, or to many who knew him always ‘Mr G’, was held in the highest regard for both his kindness and his single-mindedness.

Les dedicated the best part of 60 years to Lacrosse firstly as a player and then as a junior coach and manager, chauffer, teacher and administrator. For many years he was Junior Secretary and President of Stockport LC and also heavily involved in the administration of the game at County, Regional and National level, serving as President of the ELU in 1988/89. In 1994 Les was the co-ordinator for the overseas teams in the in the Junior Festival event as part of the World Cup.

In 1945, Les returned to Stockport after serving in the Army. He had served in Palestine, Greece and Austria firstly as a driver in a tank regiment and then as an education officer. Upon his return he trained to become a teacher, and after a long and successful career, retired from teaching in 1985 from Alexander Park Junior School. In 1982 Les was the last Headmaster of Christ Church primary school in Heaton Norris, Stockport. Only the church steeple remains of the church and school but the memory of being sent to see ‘The Headmaster’ still lingers with one current member of Stockport Lacrosse club.

He married Netta, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis spending many years confined to a wheelchair. Netta passed away in Oct 1973.

Les joined Stockport LC in 1947 at a time when game and the Club were experiencing hard times. During the late 1950’s he began helping with junior program and eventually took full control. He helped to develop a junior program with the single-minded purpose and drive that he demonstrated in everything he turned his hand to. At the same time that he was fostering interest in junior lacrosse he founded the ‘Tadpoles’, a locally based swimming club for physically handicapped children for which he would occasionally enlist help from his lacrosse players. He retired as Junior Secretary in 1989 but he still retained an interest in the junior program and until recently took every opportunity to lend support and give advice to coaches, players and parents.

Mr G was the founder of the Stockport Metros and the exchange tour to Anne Arundel County. This was established in 1976 and has been running successfully ever since. The tour ethos has always been “Friendship through lacrosse” a principle that was central to all the work that Mr Grainger did over the years. 1998 was the final tour for Mr Grainger who insisted the program continue without him. The exchanges continue today and many of those players who had the opportunity to participate made life-long friends as a result. Without Mr Grainger’s commitment and vision the 600 plus boys that have since toured the US would not have had this fantastic opportunity. He continued to be involved, providing advice and guidance right to the end.

In recognition of this work Les was awarded honorary citizenship of the State of Maryland in 1982.

He was an inspiration to coaches, players and parents a like changing hundreds of lives for the better. He will be greatly missed, but remembered with much fondness by all that knew him.


31 comments on Mr. G. Add your own

  1. Todd Wood (Annapolis (Elks), USA)

    I was a member of the Elks Lacrosse team that visited in 1976. It was an amazing experience.

    Sadly, I just heard of Les Grainger’s passing. It is a sad day for lacrosse.

    During his visits to Annapolis he became good friends with my grandparents-John and Macie Wood (who have also passed away).

    I have displayed in our house a clock presented to them by Les engraved with their names and the Stockport Wimslow Lacrosse Club from their 1978 Annapolis, USA visit.

    My visit to England and the Stockport area is still a very vivid memory and was a wonderful experience.

    Thanks for the opportunity and the memories.

    PS. For the England players, we are a football (soccer) household-not lacrosse-as we live in an area of the country that does not play lacrosse. We are a split household however. One daughter is a Bayerne Munich, German, and Inter fan while myself and another daughter are big Chelsea fans. Don’t worry, we are all Man Utd fans, though.

  2. Chris Livesey (Stockport, England)

    Mr G, a truly great man who will be remembered by all that knew him. He made a huge impact on so many lives including mine. His contribution to English lacrosse is second to none. His memory will live on through the Stockport Metros that will be remembered as one of his finest achievements.

    Gone but not forgotten.

  3. James Stockton (Derbyshire, England)

    So many memories of Mr G, fantastic bloke! he will be sadly missed. I am still in contact with the American family that he paired me with in fact they were here in September for my Wedding.

  4. Tony Malkin (Stockport, England)

    We will all miss Les for his drive and enthusiasm in all things lacrosse. On a personal level I was honoured to be a friend through which we shared much, including many lacrosse highs, not least those through Metros. Let us all retain his ethos on committment to the community.

    Tony Malkin (Metros Director 1999-2001)

  5. Steve Livesey (Stockport, England)

    Rest in Peace Mr Grainger you will be greatly missed, so many great memories of trips in the van, coaching Stockport Under 12’s and various Metro tours. You had a huge impact on so many lives, thanks for everything.

  6. David Bridge (Stockport)

    Very sad to hear the news about Mr G, he was a fantastic man and a great ambassador for English lacrosse. Many fond memories of the lifts in the blue van! He will be greatly missed.

  7. Alex Nicholls (Stockport)

    Being taken to and from games, training or fundraising events in his red mini bus are some of my earliest and fondest memories.
    His drive and commitment inspired those working with and alongside him to grow the sport and make it accessible to all; if it was not for Mr Grainger and him prompting my mum to help set up the ladies section at Stockport following requests from Sally and Jennie nearly 20 years ago, we would not be fielding two ladies teams and three girls teams week in and week out.

    R.I.P. Mr Grainger and thank you xxx

  8. Margaret Langford (Hazel Grove, England)

    So sad to hear about Mr.Grainger. One of life’s true gentlemen.

  9. Andy Hiller (Maryland,USA , Stockport,England)

    Mr Grainger will be fondly remembered for all he did to promote youth lacrosse. I will always be grateful to him for all the opportunities he gave me as a player and later a coach.He had a positive impact on so many of us and the game of lacrosse.He will be missed.
    (Metros tour 76 /Coached 82 thru 88)

  10. David Williams (Buckhurst Hill, UK)

    Sad to hear the news of Mr Grainger.
    Memories of our meeting with the first Metros are vivid (North vs South U16s 1976)not only because of the quality of the Metros’ play, but also the kind and generous reception given us by Mr G.
    Every SEMLA game was preceeded by a minute’s silence yesterday; this prompted a lot of discussion of the great man’s influence in the sport for the past 63 years. Rest in Peace.

  11. Karen (berkshire, england)

    Mr Grainger was like a dad to me. every wednesday when I was about 8 years old I would go and have tea with him and Netta. He encouraged my love gor swimming and I helped him with ‘The Tadpoles” swimming club every wednesday night. There was a fair few of us who he used to pick up in his mini bus and by way of a thank you he would buy us chips! I moved away and lost touch but I am glad to say visited him about 3 years ago and we both took a very special trip down memory lane, talking about his beloved Netta. He had a beautiful photo of her in his sitting room, It was special to us both. He was an amazing man who is now re-united with the love of his life… R.I.P Mr Grainger Karan xx

  12. Mike Langford (Stockport)

    Thank you for everything Mr G, if it wasn’t for you then I would have never been introduced to such a great sport and met some even greater people.
    You are such an inspiration to so many and you’ll be sadly missed

  13. Albert Hall (Manchester, UK)

    Thank you Mr Grainger for everything you did our trip to Baltimore is one of my dearest held memories
    And also for making not been able to get there no longer a valuable excuse as to why you were not going to training.

  14. Mike Roche

    Rest in Peace Mr G. Thanks to your efforts a great many people have had their lives massively enriched. Thank you.

  15. Andy (Manchester, England)

    Mr G
    I was lucky enough to go on the first metro tour in 1976 and it changed my life. My son has been privileged to go on the recent tour and at 13 years old I can see already how it’s helped him in his development. Metro lacrosse tours are much more than lacrosse and for that we will always be grateful for your vision and selfless work.Metros lacrosse in my era has been the most influential program in the development of the game in Britain and the number of international players it has produced proves this point.
    Thanks Les

  16. Chris Cox (San Francisco, USA)

    So sad to hear the the news of Mr Grainger’s passing. A true giant of a man who changed my life for good, as he did so many others.

    All the memories come flooding back. Saturday mornings at Cale Green. Wednesday nights at the baths. Countless hours in the back of that van, having the times of our lives, all thanks to Mr Grainger.

    And of course, the 1978 Metros tour that changed everything. Two magical weeks in a place called Sherwood Forest with the wonderful Wood family; a sport that has given me so many friendships and opportunities; and an introduction to the country I’ve called home for the past ten years.

    So good to see the Metros still going strong. A fitting tribute to the most determined and selfless man I ever met.

    Thanks Mr Grainger.

    Thanks for teaching me the sport of lacrosse.
    Thanks for the life-changing opportunity of the ’78 Metros.
    Thanks for everything you did for so many.

  17. Rick Purnell (Devonshire, (Formally Wilmslow LC & ELU Exec Chairman))

    I was enriched by Les Grainger having served with him on the ELU Executuve for many years. I can recall many a car ride and meetings held at the Squash Club in Leicester.
    Your influence, Les, will be felt by future generations – what a legacy is that!

    Whilst I can’t make it on the 14th Jan you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  18. Alistair (Mellor, England)

    A sad loss to the game and a sad loss to our community. Mr. Grainger will always be an inspiration to me. He is one of the reasons I entered the teaching profession, in the hope that I can emulate a small proportion of the success and legacy he has left behind. It is an honour to be part of the Metro family….thank you Mr. Grainger!

  19. Centurion Lacrosse Club

    A teacher, a mentor, a colleague and a friend to very many Centurions. A great lacrosseur who is sadly missed.

  20. George Bailey

    I was lucky enough to be one of the last few of Mr G’s recruits and can remember the good old Sunday morning training sessions at Stockport and getting a lift in his van. I’m very thankful to him for giving me the opportunity of the Metros tours and getting me involved in lacrosse in the first place.
    He was a great man and will be truly missed. I’m sorry I didn’t get to visit him one last time.

  21. Jack Simpson (Spain)

    I was saddenned to hear the news regarding the death of Les Grainger,many individuals will mourn his passing,especially the members of Stockport as his contributions to the club are a major factor in the clubs current standing as one of the top teams in lacrosse.Happy new year to you all
    Jack Simpson(SPAIN)

  22. Ian Young (Brisbane & Poynton, Australia & UK)

    I’m so glad I was able to visit Mr Grainger last year on a trip back home from Australia. He changed my life 25 years ago and I will always thank him, and remember him for that.
    RIP Mr G.
    Metros tour 1990, and the glorious unbeaten Metros U-15 team of 1991. All down to you Mr G.

  23. Colin Dunmore (Bristol , UK)

    My memories of Leslie (Mr.)Grainger go back to the 1950’s, when he suggested I should have a go at lacrosse. I did and was immediately hooked by the speed and freedom of lacrosse .
    Leslie was a gentle and careful teacher of the skills and spirit the game, to me and the boys who made up the junior teams. I remember him and his life with great affection. Happy days!

  24. Kate Poscha (Helsby) (Stockport, England)

    What a sad loss to the human race.
    I was fortunate enough to have been a student at Christ Church School 1976-1982 and I have the most remarkable regard for this formidable man. I am a teacher now myself and can understand what a forward thinking individual Mr Grainger was. The sports ethos that a primary school of that era had was amazing and this has held in my life until today. Mr Grainger took us Tuesday night swimming at Hazel Grove in his own van – in what we used to call the ‘Graddy van’!! He encouraged competition and girls to play the traditional boys sports. Thank you Mr Grainger for giving me and my two sisters Louise and Rachel Helsby an absolutely grand start in life and contributing to what we are today.

  25. Don Jackson (Annapolis, Maryland, USA)

    We’re sad to learn of Les Grainger’s passing. He was a gentle person yet a tough player having wielded a strong defense stick in his time. We knew Les in the 1980’s when he, Tony Battersby, and others brought the Stockport Metros Lacrosse team to Anne Arundel County, Maryland. My family, neighbors, and I made lifelong friends in England through that exchange and we’re forever grateful for that experience. May God’s grace follow Les in the afterlife.

  26. Anthony Hay (Stockport, UK)

    RIP Mr Grainger. Your commitment and dedication were second to none.

    I was fortunate enough to go on the ’92 tour and it remains one of my fondest memories. Without Les I (and countless other people) would never have had such a fantastic opportunity.

    Thanks Mr G

  27. Jeremy Murphy (Buffalo, NY, United States)

    I just got word about Les. Immediately I was over taken by sadness and that feeling of great loss. As a Yank that had the luxury of spending many days with Les, mostly pub lunches and talking about lacrosse & all that needed be done in England. He had his strong opinions. His endless passion for the game was and still is infectious. He was very kind to me and without question was a great friend and mentor during my stay in England. I will never forget our conversation or good lacrosse debates.

    To all of the Stockport Lacrosse Family & Friends…You were his family! He loved his Metro’s and all of the boys & girls that he brought into the game. You were all his kids the way I see it. I loved his stories of his van…and kids falling out of it on the way to lacrosse practices or games. He was a gentle giant and a very kind man! I really wish I could be there tomorrow. I am so bummed that I cannot. I wish all of you a wonderful set of pints in his name. I know all of you have many unique stories of your own. Once I send this message…I will tip a parting glass in Mr. G’s good memory. I wish you all the best…Murph

  28. Joe Gold (Baltimore, MD , USA)

    The passing of Les Grainger is indeed very sad news – but his legacy as a legendary promoter of youth lacrosse in the Stockport area will live on forever. His influence on the game in England runs very deep. But his influence on having youth players, who stayed on to play for various clubs, and then become successful coaches is what I would consider his greatest contribution to the sport. The fact that many of his prodigy’s haven given so much back to the sport is a testament to his insight into the character of the youth players he recruited to play the sport. I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to work with and learn from such a legend in our sport. Les, you will be missed – but never forgotten…

  29. Chris (Sheffield, Dale)

    Mr Grainger taught me to play lacrosse at Cheadle Hulme school in 1973 – and after a couple of weeks arranged for us to play Stockport Juniors where we lost 25-0 !! I think Rolo might of scored in that game so thats proof how bad we were!! (only joking rolo!)

    Les will be greatly missed but his contribution to lacrosse will be remembered for many years to come. RIP

  30. Nick Thorniley (Kent, England)

    So sad to hear of Mr G,s departure,we all owe him so much.

  31. Richard Roylance (Yokohama, Japan)

    I’m saddened to hear about Mr.Grainger, but like the many other lacrosse players who have posted on this site, as well as the countless others whose lives he had a hugely positive influence over, feel honoured to have known him.
    I look back fondly to the time leading up to the 1990 tour, where Mr.G would do the rounds in his van to pick up all the lads for practice. His dedication to the sport and all of us set him apart.

    RIP Mr.G.