As the author of the sport's yearbook, The Ice Hockey Annual, I am only too well aware of how difficult it is to obtain information about this colourful but much underrated sport. So I take my hat off to Martin Harris, the sport's foremost historian. He has achieved a near-miracle in putting together this book which neatly combines a history of the game, descriptions of the rinks which reveal his architectural training, and lists of all the teams which have played in the UK since the turn of the 20th century (some even earlier). Martin is an avid collector of ice hockey memorabilia so he has been able to illustrate the book with a wealth of photos, many of which have not seen the light of day for years. There's a wealth of fascinating anecdotes on almost every page. Only in 'Homes' will you learn that in the Thirties ice hockey was played in London's Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, and that a Brighton team once practised on a rink in a former car wash on Hove seafront. That Manchester's arena broke the British attendance record in March 1996 when 16,289 fans roared on the Storm, and that the sons of Lord Stanley, who donated Canada's Stanley Cup, used to play regularly in London. If 'Homes' is a must for ice hockey fans, it will also appeal to all skating lovers. And it would be good to think that some of our architects would study it, too, so that they could avoid the dreadful mistakes of their predecessors. It is a tribute to the exciting game of ice hockey that it draws crowds despite the wretched sightlines of so many UK rinks.
As a minority sport in the UK it is good to see books like this that throw a positive light on the UK's ice hockey history. 'Homes' serves as both a historic insight into the early rinks and as a reference to the current venues where this great sport is played and watched. The sad demise of some of the original rinks and some of the great venues of British ice hockey captures the struggle the sport has to this day. Still there are rinks closing in favour of shopping centres with few replacements on the cards. At the time of writing this review Cardiff’s rink is closing and the London Racers team has had to fold due to lack of adequate facilities. The only small criticism I have is that Women’s ice hockey has been excluded from the history of teams that played in these rinks. I feel it lacks completeness without out this. For any ice hockey fan this is a good buy that I would recommend.
Mr. Harris' in-depth knowledge of the game, and particularly, of where it has been enjoyed in Britain, is both invaluable and entertaining. His love of sport and especially of ice hockey adds a special dimension to the book, and I am so glad to finally have a copy in my hands. The perfect holiday gift for the hockey fan in your life!