Alec Goldstone was the driving force behind three London teams during the late 1970s and 1980s, notably when Streatham Redskins reached the British Championship Finals weekend in 1985.
A latecomer to ice hockey, Alec saw his first game in 1974 when Tony, the elder of his two sons, took up the sport at Streatham not far from their home. He soon became totally committed, first with the junior players, taking them to away games and paying for their equipment, and then as manager of the second team Hawks. He was part of the organising committee for the (Queen’s) Silver Jubilee Trophy tournament for junior teams at the Mecca rink in 1977.
Ably supported by his wife Kathy as club secretary, timekeeper and team chauffeur, and with Tony showing a real talent for the game, the Streatham ice hockey club soon became Goldstone’s second family. When Alec and many of the youngsters eventually graduated to the senior Redskins, this bond between the manager and his players was a key factor in their success.
Another factor was the club’s successful recruiting of former Brighton Tigers’ coach Red Imrie, who also lived in south London, to assist player-coach John Rost, another ex-Tiger. Between 1977-78 and 1981-82 the team won three league titles, two play-off trophies, and twice reached the final of the British Championships.
In season 1983-84, Streatham hosted the final of the Bluecol Autumn Cup – televised on ITV – and took the reigning league champions Dundee Rockets to overtime and penalty shots before conceding.
The next season, Redskins could only manage fifth in the league table, a distant 24 points behind the winners, Durham Wasps. Consequently, it was a major upset when they routed the Wasps 9-2 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at Durham. This effort was more than enough to secure their place in the semi-finals of the British Championship play-offs at Wembley Arena, their only appearance in the showpiece event.
Despite their best efforts, the club were without a sponsor and found it difficult to survive financially in the competitive and increasingly professional league. When the committee decided to save money by sacking their new Canadian player-coach, Mark Didcott, Alec resigned in sympathy.
The pair were reunited at Richmond the following season, 1988-89, recruited some similarly dissatisfied Redskins, and hauled the Flyers off the bottom of the league’s Division One. It was a heavy blow when Richmond’s sponsor then deserted them and Goldstone was released.
Around Christmas 1990, when Lee Valley Lions were struggling at the foot of the Division One table, they drafted in two Goldstones, manager Alec (“that well-known escapologist”, said a reporter) and forward Tony. When the Lions finished dead last at season’s end, Alec cheerfully explained that his men were just pacing themselves. Sure enough, the Lions won a four-game qualification play-off to remain in the league.
During his 17 years in the sport, his dedication and good humour led to him being described as a man with many opponents, but no enemies. When the governing British Ice Hockey Association presented him and Kathy an award for their ‘Special Services to British Ice Hockey’ in 1990, BIHA secretary Pat Marsh said of Alec: “He would do anything to help hockey”.
Alec Goldstone was born in Clapham, London on 18 August 1938 and died following a heart attack on 15 July 1991. He was survived by sons Tony and Adam and daughter Julie. Kathy died in 2019. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.