The Godfather of Australian Lacrosse


Australia finished fifth at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships in 2003 and sixth in 2007. If they want to improve on those results, they'd better be ready to go at the opening faceoff of the 2011 worlds in Prague May 21-28.

Their nemesis from the '07 quarterfinals, England, is their first opponent this year on the first day of the tournament. Win that game and they probably play either the Czech Republic or Ireland in the quarterfinals. Lose it and they'll most likely face the Iroquois or USA in the quarters. With that kind of pressure right off the hop, a team looks to its experienced leaders. For the Aussies, that means Gordon Purdie.

It would be hard to find someone with more international experience than Purdie. He's already represented Australia at seven world championships-five field and two box. And he hasn't been a passenger at those events. Purdie was named the top midfielder in the world at Manchester '94, when he led the boys from down under to a silver medal with an upset of Canada.

Purdie recalls being on the field after the finals, beside the Gait twins, when the all-star team was announced. "I was standing there next to Paul and Gary, who I respect as much as the game itself, and they called out my name" as the best midfielder. Purdie would never place himself above the Gaits, but that wasn't the only time he bested the pair.

After the '86 worlds in Toronto, Purdie was offered a scholarship to Adelphi University in Garden City on Long Island in New York, where he is now the head coach. He loved his time playing for the school and fondly recalls the biggest moment in team history, a 19-9 win over the Gait-led Syracuse powerhouse. "Many of the papers couldn't believe it," he says. "They were calling our Sports Information Director to get confirmation."

On the other hand, he remembers Gary Gait carrying Purdie on his back on the way to scoring his 100th MILL/NLL goal. That leads us to an important element of what Purdie brings to the table for Australia. He and the Aussies have had plenty of field success: they followed up that silver in 1994 with three straight bronze medals. But it's his indoor play that stands out for a national squad that hasn't yet translated its field expertise into box success.

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