Canadian Blaine Sexton emigrated to England in the 1920s, represented his adopted country four times in Olympic, World and European championships, and founded London Lions. One of the finest amateur players in Europe, his effortless skills and outgoing personality raised awareness of the sport in Britain and on the continent.
An all-round sportsman, Sexton first came here during World War One as an infantry officer in the Canadian Army. After twice being wounded in action in France, he transferred to the cavalry and went on to become the army sabre champion.
On his return to England after the war, he was disappointed that there was only one ice rink in his wife’s country, and that was in Manchester. A keen player pre-war with his home town team Windsor (Nova Scotia) Swastikas, he eventually rediscovered his love of the sport after being selected to play for England’s Olympic team early in 1924.
Gathering together some of his fellow countryman, he formed London Lions and took them on tours of the continent. The captain of the team in most years, he often played the entire match. Equally at home on defence or attack, he loved to rush the puck up the ice.
In their first season, the Lions reached the final of Switzerland’s Davos Cup, which qualified them for the Spengler Cup quarter-finals, and in 1929-30 they won the English club championship. At the end-of-season play-off for the first British Championship in May 1930, he scored in Lions’ 2-1 defeat of Glasgow to win the Patton Cup in London’s Golders Green rink.
For season 1933-34 he joined Queen’s, another London-based club, and assisted them to runners-up place in the English League. When they beat six crack European sides to win the St Moritz Trophy in Switzerland, his blueline skills were a major contribution.
On his first international outings for England in the 1924 Olympics, his team-mates were mostly Canadians serving in the British Army. The eligibility rules were fairly loose in those days. As a former Army man himself, Blaine fitted in well and in Chamonix, France he scored three goals in four games, collecting a bronze medal.
Two years later in the European Championships he skippered the national squad, half of whom were London Lions, and dented the twine nine times in seven outings. A French newspaper reporter was smitten. ‘Sexton is the star,’ he wrote. ‘Wearing a white sunshade, he looks halfway between a jockey and a cinema director. His effortless gliding, his rapid turns, his tricks … ensure his success.’
He was capped seven more times, including six games in the 1928 Winter Olympics when Britain finished just outside the medals. He would have gone to the World Championships in 1931 but for a broken arm.
When he decided to call it a day at the age of 43 early in the 1935-36 campaign, a magazine tribute described him as ‘perhaps the greatest showman ice hockey has ever seen’. He had never shied away from publicity.
In retirement, he ran his canned food brokerage and made a successful career in imported foodstuffs.
Blaine Nathaniel Sexton was born on 3 May 1891 in Falmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada and died on 27 April 1966 in West Horsley, Surrey, England. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1950.