Al Tognotti, front centre, With His Distinctive Mop Hairpiece
The following tribute to the underwear band was printed in the 2001/2002 Trail Smoke Eater Program:
A Tribute to “Al’s Your Pal” Tognotti
“Put on your Smokie sweater, you’ll find none better”
peeled through the arena as the game was ready to start. In comes the Al’s Your Pal underwear band led by team and city booster Al Tognotti. The original band was formed in 1939 and was made up of members of the famous Maple Leaf Band and later was comprised of school band members. In long underwear, old Smoke Eater sweaters and goofy hats the talented musicians got the arena rocking, creating an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams.
There is no doubt that the underwear band was the deciding factor at numerous games, both home and away. During the years they traveled throughout the Kootenays as well as Kelowna, Vancouver, Calgary, Penticton and Spokane. For five consecutive years the Smoke Eater underwear band was invited to Kelowna for the mid-summer hockey game by Bob Giardano. NHL superstar, Bobby Hull, was a perennial guest at this event. They were in attendance at five Allan Cup championships, with the most memorable one being 1960 when the Smokies lost to the Chatham Maroons led by the unbeatable goaltending of none other than Trail native Ceasare Maniago.*
Over the years the Smoke Eaters and Spokane became great rivals and the trips to Spokane were without question some of the most memorable. The highlight for the band however, was welcoming back the Smokies in 1961 when they returned from Europe as World Champions. Thousands of fans greeted the Smokies as they were paraded around the city on a fire truck with the underwear band leading the way. The Smoke Eaters received a reception that would be remembered and appreciated forever.
The members of the band not only cheered the team on to many victories but also assisted with providing funds for travel and meals. On numerous occasions Allan Tognotti assisted the team financially because of his love for the team and what it stood for. Allan Tognotti and his underwear band entertained hundreds of thousands of fans since 1939 and continues to do so.
Thanks to dedicated Smoke Eater fans like Ray Tenisci, Gord Fischer, Bob Howard, Ed and Tony Ferraro and members of the Trail and Rossland school bands, the tradition of the band continues and so does the memory of one of the greatest Smoke Eater boosters of all time, “Al’s Your Pal Tognotti.”
Allan Tognotti was the curator of the Sports Hall of Memories located on the red floor of the Trail Memorial Centre where his drum and mop hairpiece are retired. Al Tognotti passed away in 1985.
*The winners of the Allan Cup usually represented Canada in the World Championship the next year. Having defeated the Smoke Eaters in the 1960 Allan Cup, the Chatham Maroons, had that opportunity to represent Canada in 1961. However, due to financial difficulty the Maroons were not able to make the trip to Europe for the Championship. The Smoke Eaters were offered the opportunity to represent Canada in the 1961 World Championship and the rest is history.
Due the work of Terry Moon the underwear band was resurrected this season and has been rocking the Cominco Arena at games this year. Terry was also a member of the band many years ago when he was attending J.L. Crowe in the 60’s. Mentioned in the tribute in 2001/02 were Ray Tenisci and Gord Fischer. Both have been seen this season marching around at games in their underwear.
The lyrics to the theme song played by the underwear band over the years and sung to the tune of “Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet,” is as follows:
Put on your Smokie sweater, you’ll find none better,
And well beat the, name of the visiting team, any day,
With our sticks of hickory we’ll skate to victory,
In that good old Smokie Way!
The present underwear band plays this song continually throughout the Smokie games.