Scots forward Derek Reilly, who spent his entire 20-year career in Edinburgh, scored 882 goals for Murrayfield Racers, an all-time British record at the time of his retirement in 1984.
Reilly grew up in his parents’ flat a five-minute walk from the Murrayfield rink, and his elder brother Glen (in the Hall of Fame as a referee) was the first in the family to skate and play hockey. Derek, who could skate by the time he was four, would soon outdo his sibling at playing the game.
Enthusiastic and dedicated, and playing on either left wing or at centre, he was a fast skater and deadly shooter with a powerful slapshot. With him in the line-up, the hugely successful Murrayfield club dominated the sport between 1969 and 1981, winning the national knockout tournament for the Icy Smith Cup eight times and scooping seven league titles and 12 cup competitions.
His eye for goal led to him outpoint all other players in 1977-78 to win the Earl Carlson Memorial Trophy, and his consistently prolific contributions on the right-wing were recognised with four All-Star selections, three on the ‘A’ team. After scoring twice in the final of the Heineken British Championships at Wembley Arena in 1984 he announced his retirement at the age of 37. The scores brought his career goal total to 882 in 525 official games. With 398 assists his points tally of 1,280 was second only to his fellow Hall of Famer Lawrie Lovell.
‘Pecker’, as he was known by friends and opponents alike due to his familiar ‘bobbing head’ skating style, appeared in three World Championships for Great Britain in the 1970s scoring ten goals and five assists in 19 games. He also represented Scotland many times against England after first being capped in the 1969 Home International.
After hanging up his skates to concentrate on his business in sales, he stepped in at short notice to help the Racers when their Canadian coach Ian Ramsay was injured in the middle of the 1985-86 season. At the end of the campaign the team – with a teenaged Tony Hand and inspirational Canadian skipper Chris Kelland – stood on top of the Premier Division of the Heineken League and reached another championship final at Wembley.
The team’s inability to draw the crowds to the Murrayfield rink in the early 1990s combined with the escalating costs of running the sport left them in a parlous condition. In a brave attempt to help his old team survive Reilly, with his brother-in-law Robert Adams, took control of the club from the rink, but within 18 months they had run into heavy debt.
Derek Haig Reilly was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 24 December 1946. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.