Alastair Brennan’s career nearly ended prematurely when he was seriously injured and told never to play again. But he defied medical advice and went on to represent Great Britain in many World Championships.
Alastair, always known as ‘Ally’, learned to ice skate at the nearby Paisley rink when he was eleven after first “flying up and down the pavement outside my mum’s house” on roller skates. He was the youngest of four brothers, and it was Billy, his elder by eleven years, who brought him his first pair of ice skates after the Paisley player-coach had been touring Sweden. Ally started playing for his brother on the Mohawks in 1962 when he was 17 and was one of their leading scorers as they won the Northern League in its first three seasons.
When the Mohawks folded in 1970, he moved to the west coast and top scored in his first season with Ayr Bruins. Then disaster struck twice. The 3,800-seat Ayr arena closed in April 1972, just four weeks after an horrendous head-on car crash just south of Aviemore when Ally had been lucky to escape with a broken neck. Despite being warned by his doctors that playing ice hockey again was out of the question, he bravely fought his way back to fitness, only to face the problem that few clubs wanted to run the risk of signing him in case he suffered a further injury.
Harold ‘Pep’ Young, player-coach of Fife Flyers, was prepared to take a chance on him, however, and such was his determination that he produced his best hockey during his seven years on the blueline in Kirkcaldy. Starting in his first season in 1972-73 when he was voted the Northern League’s Player of the Year, he was voted onto four successive All-Star ‘A’ teams while the Flyers won the Icy Smith Cup, two league titles, four Autumn Cups and three Spring Cups.
He returned to Ayr’s new rink in Limekiln Road in 1979 when he was appointed player-coach of the Bruins and led them to the semi-finals of the Heineken British Championships in the first ‘Wembley Weekend’ in 1983-84. This was his second trip to the finals. After a dispute with the Ayr club during 1982-83, he had quit and joined Tom Stewart’s Dundee Rockets in time to win a gold medal in the inaugural Championships at Streatham.
Ally was a fixture on the international scene between 1965 and 1981, being capped no fewer than 47 times for Great Britain in eight World Championships. When he scored for Scotland in a 4-0 shut-out of Northern England in May 1964, it was the first of many appearances for his native land.
A versatile player, he started his career as a forward, later patrolled the blueline then reverted to the wing in his final season. Over his long 22-year career, he played in 470 official club games, scoring 370 goals and 695 points, with a penalty tally of 856 minutes. After hanging up his skates, he served a year as assistant to Ayr’s Canadian coach Paul Bedard before concentrating on his new job as a maintenance engineer at a paper mill in nearby Irvine.
Alastair (Ally) Brennan was born in Paisley, Scotland on 17 February 1945. His wife is Jean Scott, a champion figure skater who represented Great Britain in the Sapporo Winter Olympics. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.