Husband-and-wife Allan and Annette Petrie are the founders and driving forces behind the Great Britain Supporters Club (GBSC), the only fan club for a national ice hockey team anywhere in the world.
Backed by a dedicated committee, Annette and Allan – the joint chairs of GBSC – raise funds for the national team programme through a network of representatives at British clubs. The funds are raised by selling merchandise and organising raffles and special events at World Championships, Olympic competitions and other games in which Britain’s national teams are involved.
Ice Hockey UK enter GB teams in six IIHF events (seniors, under-20s and under-18s for men and women), and before the pandemic GBSC had raised over £50,000 since their formation in 1993.
The support is not simply financial; the members are renowned for their fanatical support of their country wherever they go. There must be many games over the years that Britain have won thanks to the constant chanting of “GB, GB” as the British fans, though often out-numbered, out-chant the rest of the spectators.
The World Championships are usually held in the less well-known parts of Eastern Europe, where the passion for ice hockey is supposedly greater than in this country. But wherever GB go, their fans follow, enjoying facilities as good or better than their heroes, thanks to GBSC’s superb organising abilities.
As well as match tickets and hotel rooms, a number of activities are arranged, including sightseeing trips, fancy dress days, crazy golf competitions and ‘posh dinners’, and members are encouraged to experience the cultures of the different countries.
The idea for a supporters’ club began in 1991 when Annette and Allan – who both hold down full-time office jobs – arranged a trip for a dozen fans at the World Championships in Copenhagen. Two years later they took 25 fans from Slough, Nottingham, Gillingham and Bracknell to Eindhoven, Netherlands where GB famously won promotion to the World A Pool.
While there, they discovered that other fans had paid over the odds for their tickets and accommodation, and some had come independently, so they decided to bring everyone together under one organisation.
The GBSC were quickly recognised by the governing BIHA and the club was officially launched later in 1993 at the Olympic Qualifying competition in Sheffield. There is now a website with news, merchandise and competitions at www.gbsc.co.uk.
Annette (née Pomery) Petrie was born on 2 December 1967 in Southampton, and Allan Petrie on 26 October 1964 in Paddington, London. They were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.