The soft of crowds Manchester Storm got in the 90's
When you think of Sport in Britain, you think of Football, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and the rest, or maybe you think of Rugby with England and Wales amongst the world leaders in the sport, perhaps you think of the stereotype that we all play Cricket. Whatever you think of British sport, you probably wouldn't associate it with Ice Hockey.
The sport has an idea attached to it of being a game imported from North America in the early 90's, with the likes of Manchester Storm and Sheffield Steelers popping up and it was a novelty for a while but people soon got sick of the whole Americanism of the Sport. This is however, a falsity in itself, Hockey has been in Britain as long as it has been anywhere else, Team GB were in fact Olympic Champions in the 1930's and have a number of other international titles to their credit.
The potential is there, a great hockey player must be brave, strong, athletic, have great concentration and have a will to win, this is also the case in all other sports and the players who possess all of the qualities to be a top class NHL player, all choose the mainstream sports like Football and Rugby, which is no fault of their own, it's just not in our nations blood to take to the ice.
The British Sporting Associations must recognise this potential and invest in more facilities and youth development around the country, in the 1990's before reforming as Manchester Phoenix, Manchester Storm were officially the biggest team in European Hockey averaging over 10,000 a game, not far of some NHL teams, so why all of a sudden the loss of interest?
This is something that must be addressed, Britain has been great at Hockey before, it can be done again. Clubs need to take a more active role in the community and get more fans to come to the games, most people don't even know that places like Swindon and Telford, two quaint towns in England, have teams that compete at a good level. Going back to Manchester, the city has a population of nearly 500,000 and yet they struggle to break gates of 2,000, this has to be changed!
Canada are currently the world leaders of Hockey with some of the worlds most successful teams coming from there, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers all were formed after early forms of Hockey in Britain had taken off, why then have they overtaken us? I will tell you why, lack of ambition. Britain suffers it in all sports, we are too gracious in defeat, it's always a case of 'next time we'll do it', well I'm sick of next times. The British sports board need to stand up and say, Britain wants to compete NOW, even if we get stuffed by the Canadians, Americans and Russians, so what? at least we'd be back on the path to greatness.
We've been there before, we can do it again!
Guest post by Chris Larkin: Chris has always been a huge sports fan but Ice Hockey gripped him in a way that no other sport ever has, he has played several matches amongst his friends at the Silverdome in Altrincham and he's hoping to join an amateur team when he moves out to British Columbia in September. Chris loves the Vancouver Canucks despite living thousands of miles away... You can find him on Twitter @larkin90.
Note by HC: Hockey Community's mission is to make hockey more accessible to the world and connect players to each other. We think everyone in the world should play hockey more often and understanding why a few countries like England don't embrace hockey as much as before and how we can bring it back is part of our duties.
Thank you Chris for being an Ambassador of this mission in England!
Picture of the Olympic British team that won the Gold in 1936