Monday 20 September 2021

New Book: "UK Ice Hockey - Its History & Competition Winners” by Michael A Chambers

If you like ice hockey history, you will definitely like this new book by Michael A Chambers entitled “UK Ice Hockey - Its History & Competition Winners”.  

Now, as Michael freely points out in his introduction, a lot of the information in this book is actually already available from various sources either on the internet or in the multitude of books that have been written about the subject over the years.  But the problem is – which website did you see it on?  Have you still got the link for it?  Is that website still in existence – as a lot of great online resources have simply disappeared into thin air over the years….?

Which book was it in? Which year’s edition of the Ice Hockey Annual…?  Certainly, if you are anything like me when you are researching a topic, you will have books open all over the place, with post it notes liberally sprinkled - and all sorts of magazines and programmes strewn around as well.

Well, what Mick has rather cleverly done here is to gather a large amount of that information and put it all together in one book so you can find it more easily.

Who won the Autumn cup in 1985? It’s in here…

Scottish National League in 1948/49? That’s here too.

Want to know about the one-off British Championship that was played in 1930?  Look no further…

In fact, there are comprehensive lists of who won what and when for all domestic competitions, details of British teams in Europe and a whole lot more.

There are even lists of things that I didn’t even imagine I might ever need to know - such as Coach Of The Year, Player Of The Year and complete listings of All Star Players and Teams for every year that they have been nominated.

So there you go – if you like British ice hockey - and British ice hockey history – you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied in Michael Chambers’ new book.

For the Mail Order link, CLICK HERE  

Thursday 8 July 2021

First Outing For North West Lions

The North West Lions tournament team launched their playing kit at a special training event at Planet Ice Widnes last weekend. It was a big occasion for the new team as it was the first time that the players had been able to get together due to the various rink closures and training restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic over the past 18 months.

Rather like the rugby union representative team with a similar name, this new Lions ice hockey team has been set up especially to play tournaments and matches abroad and, as its name suggests, comprises players taken from the north west rinks of Widnes, Deeside, Altrincham and Blackburn.

The team had arranged to take part in an 8-team international tournament  in Prague in September - where they would have been lining up against teams from the Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia as well as the host country - but the ongoing uncertainty regarding foreign travel and lockdowns in mainland Europe have made it impractical to attend.

They now hope to travel to the Czech Republic in April next year instead for a similar tournament and it is hoped that restrictions will have been sufficiently relaxed by then to enable the Lions to take part.  

You can find out more about the North West Lions teams on their Facebook page at: CLICK HERE

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Widnes Wild 4 - Sheffield Scimitars 3: Match Report by Robert Martin

Photo by Geoff White (

Sunday 2nd May - Three Rivers Cup: Widnes Wild 4 Sheffield Scimitars 3

The YKK Widnes Wild secured an impressive home win at Planet Ice Widnes in an exciting and tense encounter.

The opening period was evenly contested, with both Harrison Walker for the Wild and Thomas Hovell in the Scimitars net being kept very busy. The Sheffield Scimitars opened the scoring late in the first period, courtesy of a power play goal from Scott McKenzie. Sheffield then doubled their advantage a couple of minutes later, to give them a 2-0 lead to take into the second period.

The Wild were able to respond early in the second period to get themselves back into the match. A goal from Adam Barnes, his first of the night, helped to cut the lead in half. The match continued at a high intensity, with both sides able to create decent goal scoring opportunities. However, the Scimitars continued to hold a slender advantage.

The third period proved to be gritty and aggressive, with Thomas Barry for the Wild and Jack Brammer for Sheffield both seeing penalties for roughing early in the period. Widnes then enjoyed a three goal explosion in the space of five minutes, courtesy of a goal from Brady Doxey and power play goals from Jordan Griffin and Adam Barnes. 

With just under three minutes left on the clock, Thomas Barry and Jack Brammer were able to settle their score; with both players ending the match in the penalty box with fighting penalties. The Scimitars pulled a goal back in the last seconds of the match, but it was not enough to deny Widnes a great win on home ice.

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: 

Saturday 20 March 2021

Book Review: The History Of The Slough Jets by Stuart Latham

If you are of a particular age – and, like me, blessed/cursed with the type of mind that remembers bizarre trivia and minutiae that nobody else is in the least bit interested in – you may recall that back when CDs were first being talked about on TV programmes such as Tomorrow’s World and so on, we were told that they were going to be much better than records (ie vinyl – and 78s too, I suppose...) because they wouldn’t get scratched and they would never jump....

Well, 40 years on, I think we all know now that CDs DO get scratched and they DO jump. Sometimes they inexplicably don’t work at all - and I can personally testify to that fact that sometimes they just suddenly stop playing when you are in the middle of a live radio show as well... so there you go.  A bit like the claims about North Sea Gas - and then nuclear power - that would get rid of domestic fuels bills for ever...  oh well. 

One of the more obscure things that I certainly remember being said about CDs was that you would be able to spread jam on them and they would still work. Well, don’t try this at home, anybody, as this DEFINITELY DOES NOT WORK!

Anyway, around the same sort of time that I was trying to “de-confiture” my late-teenage bedroom before my mum saw the rather sticky state of it, a new ice rink was being built in Slough...

(Did you see what I just did there...? A bit like Giles Coren in The Times..? You know – where he starts off talking about some unrelated topic  - and then slides seamlessly into writing about food and restaurants...? The only difference here is that I am about to slide seamlessly - if somewhat predictably - into writing about ice hockey....)

I’ve never actually been to Slough – as far as I am aware. I think I went through it on the train once - on the way to Reading to see The Pogues play at the university when my friend Alan was studying  there.  I HAVE been to Heathrow Airport a few times, which is near there, and I once drove to Hayes for work on a blisteringly hot day during the USA 94 World Cup to pick up an Australian printer (that’s a person, by the way – not a machine) to transport to Essex, which if your geography is any good, you’ll know is at the opposite extreme of the M25 – and a complete sod to get there and back to on a weekday. And that’s about it for “Slough & Me”, to be honest.

I do, however, distinctly remember the first time that the Slough Jets played against the Peterborough Pirates.

It was the Jets’ first season and the Pirates were steamrolling HBL Division 1 at the time with the likes of Garry Unger, Todd Bidner and Doug McEwen on their impressive roster.  League new boys Slough had Gary Stefan in charge (earlier of Richmond Flyers and Streatham Redskins and later of BNL fame), Richard Boprey (later of TV commentator fame) , Charlie Colon (of pretty much everywhere fame....) and their own whole load of famous names - so it was a great time to be watching British hockey.  My friend Alan actually went to the away game (as he was still just down the road in Reading) and brought me a programme back – Saturday 29th Nov 1986, Pirates won 7-12 (no,  I didn’t remember that from 35 years ago – my trivia recall isn’t quite that good - I just looked it up....).

At the home game against the Jets later in the season, I ended up sitting next to some Slough fans – presumably they’d arrived early and, as it was their first ever visit to the East Of England Ice Rink, didn’t appreciate the nuances of the seating etiquette of who went where.  But that is probably why I managed to get a seat, which used to be quite an achievement in those days – even though I was right next to them. The Pirates had just secured the HBL1 title two weeks before - with 5 games left to play - so there was a kind of party atmosphere around the place and I didn’t really mind one bit who I was sitting near.

For some reason, the Slough lads spent the whole game hurling abuse at Pirates’ defenceman Ellwyn Dawkins and waving baby’s bottles at him which - as I couldn’t spot any further evidence of babies, changing materials , or other infant-related paraphernalia -  I imagined they must have brought with them solely with that particular purpose in mind.  I do believe it was something to do with an incident that had occurred between Dawkins and Slough’s Darrin Zinger in the previous game.

Anyway, this master plan to unsettle the awesome Pirates defence obviously didn’t work and Peterborough ran out 11-5 winners ( I looked that up as well...).

The Pirates played the Slough Jets 55 times between 1986 and 2002 before they were somewhat unceremoniously replaced by the Peterborough Phantoms - so it’s quite likely that I have actually seen Slough play on numerous occasions, although nothing sticks in my mind quite as much as that first home game with the baby’s bottles that I have just told you about.

Now, if you are still with me by this point – and are wondering when we are going to get to the “good bit.” Or even if there is, in fact, a good bit to get to..... you will now be rewarded for your patience as we have now arrived at THE GOOD BIT!

Stuart Latham has covered the fascinating history of the Slough Jets in his new book – which has just come out and can be ordered now!

The Jets are one of the few clubs in the country to have kept the same name and played at the same venue  all the time ever since their launch in 1986, which means that, not only is this new book a MUST for all the Slough Jets fans past and present - but it also covers the various meanderings of British ice hockey over a somewhat stormy period – starting off in the days of the British League, then the British National League, then the English Premier League, the English National League and now the NIHL.

A massive 246 pages in total, the book has season by season stats and tables from 1986/87 right up to the 2020/21 season (even though there wasn’t one  - actually...), loads of photos and interesting articles written by former players such as Gary Stefan, Steve Moria, Charlie Colon and Brian Biddulph – and lots more besides.  

So, if you are like me and interested in British ice hockey history, even if you’re not necessarily a dedicated Slough fan, there should be something of interest in this book for you. Stuart has also produced similar club histories about a whole host of British teams all of which are available for mail order – and there is also his multi-team compilation “Ice Hockey Memories” - which features articles and interviews covering all different clubs in one volume. 

You can find out all about Stuart’s books on ice hockey and other fascinating subjects on his sales website:  

Another bit of good news is that, if you order your copy of this book – or any of Stuart’s recent ice hockey club histories  – direct via Stuart, then the club concerned get a % of the sales price, so that can’t be bad...!

Sunday 31 January 2021

Book Review: The Cardiff Devils by Stuart Latham

 “They say that good things come in threes”.  Yes ! I know I have done that one already but I have since thought of a few decent ice hockey related analogies - so just bear with me…

Like Heineken League era imports, the Hanson Brothers in Slapshot, the Hunter brothers at the Peterborough Pirates and erm, well, perm any three Brittles….  Stuart Latham conjures again with that magic number to come up with another of his fascinating British ice hockey club histories. 

This time – in what is the second instalment in his Ice Hockey In Wales trilogy (– although you might wait quite a long time for the third one…..!),  I am pleased to present to you the third instalment instead of his JOHN LAWLESS TRILOGY!  ie the Cardiff Devils, to fit nicely alongside the Peterborough Pirates and Manchester Storm books that he has produced previously.

Now, EVERYBODY loves the Cardiff Devils – by which I actually mean that some people really do LOVE them -–and most other people love to hate them. But, whatever side of that particular fence you sit on, you can’t argue with the amount of trophies they have won over the years and the number of players they have contributed to this great sport of ours.

I sit firmly atop that fence in this debate as I was very pleased to watch the Devils beat Murrayfield Racers in a highly dramatic sudden death penalty shoot out in the 1990 Wembley Play Off final – back when domestic British ice hockey used to appear LIVE regularly on BBC1’s flagship Grandstand  programme.  I have to admit that my pleasure came mainly from the fact that they had so many former Peterborough Pirates players in their line up - but there you go...

I did, however, also enjoy the odd frisson of schadenfreude when the all conquering Devils managed to lose the Division 2 Promotion Play Off final on their home ice to the little fancied Aviemore Blackhawks one year - which will have dented the ardour of the air-horn wielding faithful for a while – and also the occasion when they got trounced by everyone (else) ’s favourite Welshmen, the Deeside Dragons, to lose the Welsh Cup as well – so that’s a bit of balance for you.

Regular readers of my ice hockey ramblings (should such hardy souls, indeed, exist...) will know that I always like to slip the odd Peterborough connection in if I can manage it and, apart from the obvious player connection – here’s another one for you: the company that built the original Cardiff rink was the same company that had built the Peterborough Rink a few years earlier – Sports Nationwide, as I believe they were called at the time. They also built the Chelmsford rink.  There you go, Stuart, you could do a “Dennis Adams Trilogy” next…! 

But I have digressed far enough – back to the present and the Cardiff Devils book. This is a very impressive tome with a whackingly huge 272 pages. It has season by season write ups and statistics for the Devils from 1986/87 to 2020/21 – although that last one is a bit thin, obviously… and also all time player records. There are memory articles penned by some of the players including Steve Moria, Jason Wood and Richie Hargreaves and photos throughout as well. 

If you are a Cardiff Devils fan – you will probably already have a copy of this – or have one on the way.  If you are interested in ice hockey in general – and British ice hockey in particular - you will certainly find this book of interest and if, like me, you have had your own experiences with the Cardiff Devils in the past, then you’ll probably enjoy reliving those memories once again.

Stuart has produced numerous books about ice hockey and other fascinating topics as well and you can find out more on his sales website HERE


Friday 1 January 2021

Isle Of Wight 25 Year History Book In Preparation

Chris Randall is putting together a new book to celebrate the 25 years (so far…) of ice hockey on the Isle of Wight. 

The book will look in detail at the Isle of Wight / Wightlink Raiders team that played from 1991 until 2016 when their home Ryde Arena was shut down in controversial circumstances by the building owners.

Chris would be keen to hear from former players and officials and from also from anybody who has any photos, programmes or other memorabilia that they would like to have included in the book.  

It will also include year by year statistics and a full player A to Z - plus some bits and pieces about the Tigers second team.

There are various options available for sponsorship / advertising within the book and it is hoped to be able to arrange a special launch event on the Island once Covid restrictions are lifted later in the year.  

Anybody interested is asked to contact Chris at: HERE