bristol ice rink, the adi years
After going to the Bristol ice rink for 31 years on the 31st October 2012, the ice rink as I know it, will be closing its doors. I guess I must have been at the ice rink a few weeks after my birth, or maybe even days as my folks were involved with hockey back in those days. My first memory of the ice rink is being pushed around in my push chair while my mum was having kittens on the side worried I would fall out, I think.
As soon as I could walk I was put on the ice with a chair and i would skate around just pushing the chair around, getting in peoples way and just being a pain (not much has changed there). My earliest memory of playing hockey was in kit that was way too big for me with a funky green cooper helmet, which most of my old, old friends can remember. Talking to my dad the other day about the old days, he said in my first few games at faceoff the ref/linemen use to pick me up and put me in the right spot, I can’t see that being done these days,
Most of my youth was spent watching the Bristol Phantoms, I say watched, but I was just a kid that ran around bugging my mum who was goal judging and my dad who was running the clock. After the game I’d be skating around on the ice being a little shit to the people who couldn’t skate and just skate off. I’d go to the bar to try and speak to my dad and that’s when I used to get picked up and I was used to play catch with. Justin Young and Conrad Purvis, I am on about you two.
playing JNR for Bristol Devils/Demons were fun times where hockey was just about playing. For a couple of seasons we played with 5 players and a goalie, so no changes no rest but we always smiled weather we won or lost, these were the old days where under 12’s played 60 mins, played touch icing (just like NHL), or where you didn’t get called for hits from behind. I also remember that my dad could stand on the bench with a fag in his mouth giving out what he called instructions. The other good thing about my dad being the coach meant that I could play up, and at 8 years old I played my first under 16 game. I played about 30 secs at the end of a game tried to run some guy and ended up flat on my ass sliding along smiling
It’s amazing what I can remember from that place, my first goal, the first time i got kicked out a game. I shared my first kiss at the rink as well. My first goal was against Bracknell at the clock end of the rink. After I scored I did the sliding fist pump down the ice towards our goalie who was Ken Wotherspoon. After the game Ken’s dad Tom (great man) gave me a pound for that goal and every time I was a junior and I scored or got man of the match he gave me a pound.
The first time I got kicked out of a game, I can’t remember who it was against, but what happened some kid came and crossed checked me, so I got my stick and tomahawked him over his head. For some reason the ref Ken Riddell thought this was a good enough reason to have me kicked out, but to this day we will still fight over the call. I maintain a 2 min high sticking call would have sufficed. Now the funny thing about this is that someone was filming the game on a camcorder, so I managed to get a video of the “problem” and so did the ref. Next thing I was told is that the video was being used in referee courses around the southwest. and did i learn anything from this, nah did i hell..
After the Devils/Demons and Flames era came the dog years: Puppies/Beagles/Terriers and Boxers, and with a new senior team the Bulldogs came lots of new players, which is where I met the Hargreves family, the Rockmans and Van Der Veldens, and before these lot came along there was the Wescotts, the Eatwell’s and the wetherspoons, who arnt just friends they are family.
Bristol rink was always part of me growing up, following in my brother’s and sister’s steps of working there. I say work, I think I just got paid to be there. At 16 years old, because there was no senior team, I had to carry on with my hockey in Swindon but I still used to help train the kids in Bristol. I started my coaching, I did a course and took over the under 19s in Bristol when I was 20, it was always nice to give something back to a place and a club that had given me a lot over the years.
After the birth of my daughter, Danielle, I stopped playing senior hockey in Swindon, and started to play rec for both Swindon and Bristol. But Bristol was always home, so I came back and just played for the Warriors and later for the Maddogs. This way I could do all the things I enjoy in life; play hockey and drink. Hockey became my social hobby. I could have a beer before and after training, have some great laughs.
Then Bristol gave me something that I never had before, a senior team. I joined the Pitbulls enl2 team after their first year, and it was good to play proper hockey in front of fans of my home city. Who knows what could have happened if there was a senior team when I was 16.
Now the rink is closing on the 31st oct 2012, will we get a new one who knows? Do we need a new one? YES. Will it be the same as Frogmore street? Of course not. There is something about an old ice rink that makes it so much better than new ones, the smell the 101 steps to get to the rink and the people,
So the rink is going, it’s going to be a sad day but a building doesn’t hold memories the person does, and I have 31 years worth of them,
Bristol ice rink wasn’t just a place to go, it was my play ground, a place I could go to relax and do something I enjoy. It was a lot better than a youth club. I had a hockey club!!
Hopefully Bristol with have a new rink and I will have new memories to tell people, but for now…
Can the last one out please turn out the lights!!!