I’ve always had an interest in ice hockey ever since I saw the 1977 cult classic Slap Shot at a very impressionable young age. Directed by George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, The Sting) it stars Paul Newman as Reggie Dunlop, the aging coach-player of the Charleston Chiefs, a minor league ice hockey team in a small American town plagued by unemployment. Notoriously violent, very funny, and with some of the best foul language committed to film, it’s one of the greatest (and least sentimental) sports films ever made. It’s also at the root of why the Winter Olympics ice hockey tournaments are such a big deal in my household.
But despite my love of the sport I have to admit I’ve been completely ignorant in regards to any knowledge concerning the UK’s National Ice Hockey League and games being played within London. That is until I randomly went for a pint in Brixton’s Canterbury Arms, in the corner of which is a shrine of photos and trophies dedicated to the one and only Streatham Redskins.
I was immediately intrigued. Was there really an ice hockey team in Streatham called the Redskins? And more importantly were they still active? The obligatory Google search pointed me in the right direction. Not only are they active they’re one of the oldest British hockey teams still in existence having been established in 1932. And it gets even better; all their homes games are played at Brixton’s Planet Ice on Station Road. I’d found my team.
Last Sunday I finally got round to making it to a game, and what an amazing night it was. I’d certainly lucked out on this one. The Streatham Redskins were playing their sworn rivals Invicta Dynamos from Kent, and it was the largest crowd they’d had this season. Apparently Redskins Vs Dynamos games are infamously intense and dramatic, and Sunday night was no exception. One of the most memorable moments was when a mini riot broke out between the players of both teams squaring off to the sound of The Ramones hit I Wanna Be Sedated. I don’t think anyone was seriously injured and it mostly seemed to involve lots of pushing and shoving and falling about on the ice.
The atmosphere was friendly, welcoming and rapturous. When the teams hit the ice at the beginning of the game the whole place erupted. Kids cheered, dedicated followers banged drums and gave war cries, pensioners waved their walking sticks in the air, and hundreds of passionate fans pounded the protective Perspex surrounding the rink as classic rock and old school Hip-Hop blasted out of the speakers.
It was a victorious night for the Streatham Redskins who won the game with an immense 8-4 score after a strenuous, eventful and action packed game. Personally I had a great time and intend on making it a regular adage to my calendar. So if you’re if you’re looking for something different and exciting to do of an evening whilst supporting something local, I can highly recommend a Streatham Redskins ice hockey match at Brixton’s Planet Ice. For more information visit www.streatham-redskins.co.uk