Ice Hockey & Me: 40 Years And Counting....

This is a "work in progress" so please bear with me. I am adding bits and pieces as I find them and I hope at some in the future to try and make some sort of sense of it all...

In the meantime, here's a collection of ice hockey related photos in - more or less - chronological order:

1982 - and ice hockey comes to Peterborough for the very first time!

Wow - October 1983 and a fluke photo that just happens to have me in it.  This is a Heineken League Division One home game against Southampton Vikings. No I am not on the ice but in the crowd. I am, really, because I always used to sit in the same place at that time. It's not very clear but I know where I am. Just above the boards, to the left of the gate - the third head along  - grey jacket and crap hair ... definitely me...!   A bit further along from me are Margeret Thorpe and Bob Burrows who used to run the supporters club.

Presenting the match puck at John Lawless's testimonial match Peterborough Pirates v Fife Flyers, December 1986.

I'm the one in white with the puck! This was a training session for the Peterborough Spartans C (rec) team and I imagine I probably got clobbered by that huge defenceman very soon after this photo was taken!

The kit I am wearing there has quite an interesting story attached to it.  I first started playing at the grand old age of 20 and needed to get some kit quickly so that I could join in the training sessions properly.  There was a guy where I worked called Steve Brattan who at that time ran the Peterborough Ravens ladies team (first ever English ladies champions in 1984/85...!) and had also played for the Pirates when they first started and, presumably, other places before that.

He agreed to sell me some old stuff so I went to his house and picked out some bits and pieces, the more interesting of which were:

A Tilburg Trappers shirt (with some advert in Dutch printed on the front) which he had picked up on a tour match once .  

A pair of the original Pirates orange socks (pre-82/83 British League season -- lots of darning)

There is another  claim to fame here- albeit somewhat spurious.The ice hockey shorts I am wearing in this photo - in fact, in all these photo as they are the only ones I have  - used to belong to Kim Strongman - daughter of the great Les Strongman of Nottingham Panthers fame, GB womens international in he own right and one of the top woman players in England during the 1980s and 90s.  When I met here, she was playing for the Peterborough Ravens , who were on of the leading womens team at the time. And I have her shorts..! no dirty jokes please....


I played my first competitive game away at Medway – against the Medway Rangers who were rather good.

Things started off badly as another player turned up wearing the same number as me – 26.  This was in the days before compulsory registrations when rec hockey was still more or less in its infancy… so this sort of thing did happen – there were even two players with names or numbers at all.  Luckily, the other guy was on a different line to me so we coped.

For this match I was centre ice on the 3rd line. The third line was basically a mixed bag of people who had never played in a proper game before and this was just to give everybody a go.  It was very fairly done actually, because each line played for two whistles and then went off, irrespective of how the game stood or who had what penalties or whatever. This meant that everybody on the team got more or less the same time on the ice – not just the “star players” on the first line.

I was never going to be fast enough to play as a forward so my time at centre ice only ever lasted that one game. I seem to think we got hammered by Medway and then had a similar experience in the home game (to which they brought a huge amount of fans…).

My best position was right defence. This was helped by my size/height and the fact that everybody else always wanted to play up front. My problem was that I couldn’t skate backwards properly and was therefore at a disadvantage when faced by attacking players coming forward.

One thing I was quite good at was defensive clearances off the boards to get the puck out of my blue zone.  In fact, one evening in the ice rink bar Dave Mamone - who played up front - staggered over to me in a mildy drunken state and told me in no uncertain terms how much he liked picking up my long clearances off the boards so we then started to use that as a positive tactic. 

Now, I’m leading up to something interesting here, so do bear with me.  I’m going to tell you about my assist. Yes, goal scorers tell tales about  the various goals that they score, I’m going to tell you about my assist. Just one – once ever – away at Oxford.

I can tell you the date – Sunday 12th June 1988 - it was the day that England lost 1-0 to Republic of Ireland in the 1988 European Championships as that was on the TV at the rink when we getting ready to go home. We had 2 games against a rec team at Oxford that former GB player and coach Darryl Morvan was running and, indeed, playing in.

We played the B game swapping lines after two whistles and around midway through the second period it happened. The puck came in my direction on the right side of defence. It crept over the blue line with me in pursuit. Knowing that I was about to get clattered by one or more charging attackers, (yes, this does sound like that scene in Porky’s where he scores the winning shot in basketball by mistake…) I flicked at the puck with the back of my stick, glancing over my left shoulder (not…!), smashed it against boards, out of the bluezone and off up the ice. 

The charging attacker still clattered me (this was rec hockey after all…) we both fell over and while I was still getting up, a goal went in. We had scored.  The announcer announced yes “Goal Mamone” (I think he was 20) “Assist 26 Breeze”!

So there you are – my and only solitary competitive point – ever. But what fun, eh?

We won that B game and I think we also won the A game which was more competitive. I was a reserve for the A game and actually got onto the ice for 10 seconds in the last minute (AC Stan Asplin told me to go on for a bit of ice time and Captain Mick Trollope promptly told me to get back off again…).

But there you go – that’s the story of my assist – and one I’ll never tire of telling.

Charity Match In Aid Of Peterborough Childrens Hospital Appeal. Rockwell Raiders v Ice Rink Steelbacks 

Interesting people in this photo - apart from me (back row, 4th left) - are:

John Tague (front row centre) former Pirates netminder who played as an outfield player,

Andy French (front row, far right) - who was Pirates team manger and went on to be the GB team manager - here he was bench coach.

Bill Glover (back row, 2nd left) was the Pirates physio and also a champion road race cyclist.

Pirates defensive import for that season Gary Stewart (back row, far right) - not quite sure what he was doing there, actually...

Me in the abovementioned charity match. My biggest claim to fame here is that I was wearing Todd Bidner's shirt! I scored an impressive 0+0=0 with 0 PIMs, although I did manage a few SOGs... There was a video taken of this game, altough I have never been able to track down a copy.

Full colour action from the same event.   Looking menacing on the blueline - during a stoppage in play, by the looks of the referee and the opposition bench in the background...

Showing the Germans how it's done - well, standing still in the middle of huge iced-over lake at sunset, anyway...

Playing ice hockey on a frozen pond in the north of Germany circa 1995/6 - still nowhere near the puck!

I reported on the 1998 European Junior Championships in Luxembourg for 107FM Radio WAKY / Europe 2 and for the "Luxembourg News" magazine.  Interestingly enough, the IIHF official observer for the tournament was Frederick Meredith, former head of the BIHA...

Still showing lil' bro' how to do it...! Public skating session at the Kockelscheuer rink in Luxembourg, spring 1998.

In August 1998, I - rather bravely, looking back at it now -  volunteered to go along and help out the Trafford Tournament, which was a tournament held at Altrincham Ice Rink over the August Bank Holiday weekend. I don'r rmember who played now - certainly Altrincham Aces, Bradford Bulldogs, a team from Kingston (Hull) and I'm not sure who else-  but I certainly enjoyed this experience immensely and over the course of the day, I graduated from selling raffle tickets to being a goal judge.  

I dragged Lucy all the way to Altrincham from Preston (where we were then living) to see the first league game of the season and we both fell in love with the place and the people.  It was nice friendly atmosphere and they seemed to appreciate the fact that we wanted to support them.  I helped out when the regular goal judge wasn't available and also learnt how to use the scoreboard and was stand in timekeeper a few times as well.   

Altrincham Aces last match of the season - April 1999

 Peterborough Pirates v CSKA Moscow in August 1999. You can imagine who won, can't you...

This is the cover of a book that I am working on - well, have been working on for about 12 years -
but keep getting distracted.
I have fascinating interviews with really interesting personalities from the world of ice hockey and I really ought to knuckle down and get them into some semblance of order.

In no particular order of importance, I have interviews with: Dave Graham, Ken Taggart, Luc Chabot, Chuck Taylor, Mike Andrews, Ron Katerynuk, Marshall Uretsky, Trevor Cogan, Roy Halpin, Garry Unger, Tim Peacock, Steve Rattle, Doug McEwen, Gary Newbon, Jaroslav Lycka and a lot more besides. With the wonders of the internet and Facebook etc that we have now , I should be able to track down even more people to contact as well so this project could really take off again - just right for the 30th anniversary of the Heineken British League! 

 The Sub Zero rink in Cleveleys opened in April 2011 and a new Fylde Flyers team was launched to play in the ENL Div 2 North for the 2011/12 season. We went down to a training session to interview some of the players before their first ever game.

 Flyers players on the ice after their first home game on 10th December 2011.

Blackpool Seagulls back on the ice after a 20 year absence... Look who is doing the match announcements!
Bruce Sims back playing for Blackpool Seagulls after 30 years!