Sunday 18 April 2021

Book Review: Ice Hockey In Edinburgh by Stuart Latham

Tony Hand is a similar age to me – in fact he is a few months younger than me.  Yes -  I agree I don’t look it, but I suppose that’s one of the few benefits of me not having played over 1000 ice hockey games at elite level, me not being a seasoned GB international and me not being the first British player to be drafted by an NHL team….  Actually, looking back, I’ve been really lucky in avoiding all that success and acclaim stuff, so can’t really complain… 

Having said that, back in my younger days - when I was carving out a minor career at right defence on the third line of the local rec club’s b-team, I was often compared to Tony Hand.  People kept saying to me: “How is it that Tony Hand is such a gifted young British player and you are so useless…”  But, enough about me – and Tony Hand – for now. 

When I first started watching ice hockey in the early 1980s, the Murrayfield Racers were one of the biggest teams in the country.  They had already been the top team in the Northern League throughout the late 1960s and 1970s and the depth of their British born talent was very impressive. In fact, Murrayfield were such a top team in the 1980s that, when the Heineken sponsorship came in and nobody was allowed to carry any conflicting booze advertising, Murrayfield were so influential that they were allowed to carry sponsorship by Smirnoff vodka on their shirts.

It was only once the big arena teams kicked in during the early 1990s and the dynamics of British game changed that Murrayfield lost their prominence in the game and even Tony Hand (there he is again…) – who chose not to ply his trade in North America when given the opportunity – finally opted to jump ship and join Sheffield Steelers.

And the good news is that the whole fascinating story of ice hockey in Murrayfield – the Racers and various incarnations under the names of Royals and Edinburgh – are all covered in Stuart Latham’s  new history book.       It’s a massive 320 pages in length and has profiles of lots of players from the old days - such as Jack Dryburgh, Red Imrie and Johnny Carlyle – and player memory articles from people such as  Moray Hanson, Jock Hay and – you guessed it… Tony Hand!

There are load of players stats, league tables and photos and this book would be perfect for anybody who is interested in the history of the game of ice hockey in Edinburgh, in Scotland and in the UK in general.

Stuart has produced quite a few ice hockey club histories in this series including Slough, Bristol, Deeside, Altrincham, Cardiff and he has yet more on the way.  You find out more about his ice hockey books and other interesting things on his sales website here: