by David Carr
When it was announced that a temporary ice rink was to be erected in Brixton, South London there was shock and even some horror that the replacement for Streatham Ice Arena in the interim period between the old rink closing and the new one opening would be located in an area with a less than glamorous reputation.
Streatham avoid relegation in Brixton (Rick Webb)
Whilst the SW9 postcode area may be ‘on the up’ to coin a favourite estate agent phrase in the capital, it still unfairly portrays an image of crime and edginess befitting an inner London scene quite intimidating to those not savvy to its peculiarities.
In hockey terms however, the facility was a godsend to everyone from the Streatham Redskins National Ice Hockey League side, to the Streatham Storm women’s team, the junior club and of course the many recreational teams that once used the demolished 80 year old rink on Streatham High Road.
Thanks to the dedication of Tesco, Lambeth Council and Councillor Lib Peck amongst others, there was no need to mothball this famous and historic ice hockey club nor the associated clubs that needed ice to survive.
Now already at the end of its short 21 month life span, the Brixton ice rink will host its final game this weekend with the Redskins taking on bitter rivals Invicta Dynamos in a cup match.
It will be the final step in a process that will end with a triumphant return a few miles south to the homeland and the new 1000 seater Streatham Ice arena already sparkling in the SW16 skyline.
The excitement for this new facility is understandable but if a building is only as special as the memories made inside then what of the legacy of the Brixton rink, soon to be taken apart and shipped to a town in Sweden?
Juniors building up (Rick Webb)
Well despite the horror stories and concerns for safety there have been no attacks on players or fans inside or outside the rink.
The junior clubs have seen increased memberships at under 14 level and below, the recreational teams continue to flourish and the Redskins and Storm both consolidated their positions in their respective leagues without succumbing to the pressures of the transitional period.
The Redskins have seen an increase in spectator numbers, not by a massive margin but enough to tick along and the team has made Brixton home in every sense of the word.
Media interest has picked up thanks to the more central location and better lighting and the team have been filmed for two adverts including a campaign by Swedish Ladbrokes, and also a feature on ITV hit show ‘Take Me Out’.
Since they skated out in January 2012 against Romford Raiders, the Redskins have shown remarkable good form at home with sides like Chelmsford, Invicta and Wightlink all falling to defeats in ‘Fortress Brixton’ and this not only saved the Skins from relegation in that first season but also propelled them to the Play-Offs last year.
This weekend Streatham battle against the odds as the high flying Dynamos come to Brixton for one last time, but regardless of what happens in that game, Streatham are already winners this season thanks to their new rink being completed.
When the history books documenting Streatham’s long and rich history from 1932 are added to, this period of hockey in Brixton should be taken note of as the time when hockey survived the wrecking ball unscathed, and the non-existent crime wave predicted.
Brixton has been a bright spot in the club’s history and for that, everyone involved in Streatham hockey should appreciate it for the stability it has brought all of the teams within it.
Below are some of the pictorial reminders of Streatham Redskins hockey in Planet Ice Brixton. Photos are by Rick Webb & Iva Dlabkova.
Taken from Pro Hockey News, 5 November 2013