Family’s gridiron tradition keeps rolling

I remember the 1985 game against Laurier in the mud and pouring rain. Steve Samways was quarterbacking at the time and it was probably the last two minutes of the game and the Mustangs went 100 yards in the rain and mud to beat Laurier for the Yates Cup.”

“It was 1981, and I’m pretty sure it was the playoffs against Laurier at J.W. Little Stadium. It was very sunny day and Greg Marshall went about 95 yards through people, over people and around people with what has to be one of the most spectacular touchdowns that I’ve seen.”

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Safe to say Jim McLauchlan’s memory is bang on when it comes to the history of Mustangs football. After all, he’s had a few games to choose from.

The Western business graduate and his wife, Kathy, are starting their 32nd year of as season ticket holders for Western football. In fact, this weekend’s Homecoming match-up against McMaster will be the pair’s 175th Mustang football game.

Jim and Kathy McLauchlan have been Mustang football season ticket holders for 32 years, and are preparing for their 175th Western game at this weekend's Homecoming match-up against McMaster.

Jim and Kathy McLauchlan have been Mustang football season ticket holders for 32 years, and are preparing for their 175th Western game at this weekend’s Homecoming match-up against McMaster.

“I believe life is full of relationships and we have a lot of great relationships here at Western,” McLauchlan said. “We are so connected to this university.”

McLauchlan’s connection to Western began back in the early 50s as a business student. One of the stars of the Mustangs intercollegiate soccer champions, he would go on to graduate in 1956, but not forget what Western gave him.

Recently, almost 50 of his Class of ’56 classmates celebrated their 55th reunion by raising $100,000, which was then matched by the government to create an ongoing scholarship for Richard Ivey School of Business students.

“The foundation I got at the business school at this university permitted me to have an interesting, challenging and very rewarding career with Chrysler Canada,” he said. McLauchlan retired as a sales and marketing executive after 38 years with the car company.

McLauchlan’s connection with Western football began in 1981 when his son, Scott, started his career as a Mustangs running back. Coming full circle to today, when his son toured campus prior to starting in 1981, it was 1980 Hec Crighton Trophy winner – and current Mustangs head coach – Greg Marshall who led the walk around Western.

The Marshalls and McLauchlans have been close friends ever since.

“When Scott played, we went wherever they played, even on the road,” he said, proudly noting his son’s two Yates Cup titles while at Western. “We’re always supportive of the Mustangs, and now, we can both sit in the stands and be more relaxed than when our boy was playing. When he was playing, we were always so anxious to see him contribute and do well. You just felt your were on the field with him.”

At a recent game, as McLauchlan and his wife made their way to their regular seats on the 50-yard line, it was as if a movie star had arrived. He couldn’t go five feet without someone saying, ‘Hey, Jim!’ or ‘Mr. MacLauchlan, how are you?’

“Over the years, we have met coaches, players, players’ families and so many others,” he said. “We’ve seen great teams, outstanding players’ performances, some great games, but also our share of disappointments.”

Once again, the memory doesn’t fail.

Also not failing are the vehicles the two have been driving to the games over all these years. The McLauchlans live in Windsor and, according to Jim, have driven more than 72,000 kilometres in support of their beloved Mustangs.

If that love and support for the purple and white isn’t enough, McLauchlan and his son have supported the Adopt A Mustang program, which helps the university attract the country’s top student-athletes, for the past nine seasons.

“We’re still so excited about the Mustangs. Each year, we look forward to them being competitive and possibly winning a Yates Cup, and more particular getting that Vanier Cup,” McLauchlan said. “As long as health permits, we’ll keep coming.”