Great Britain’s ace marksman in two Winter Olympics and four World Championships, Gerry Davey holds GB’s all-time goal scoring record of 44, a mark which is still unequalled. During the sport’s first Golden Era of the 1930s and 1940s he was regarded as one of the national leagues’ most dangerous snipers.
Before World War One, Davey’s family emigrated from London’s east end to Port Arthur (now part of Thunder Bay), Ontario, which is where he learned to play. He came to London at the age of 16 in season 1931-32 and secured a place with Princes, one of the country’s few ice hockey clubs, which was then operating out of the Queens rink in Bayswater.
There he met two of British ice hockey’s most influential men of the time, Peter Patton and Carl Erhardt, who helped the fast skating, quick shooter to carve out successful careers at Streatham and with the GB team. Erhardt recruited him for Streatham’s inaugural season in Division 1 of the English League in 1933-34 and he played a big role on their league winning side in 1934-35 and thence into the professional English National League.
In 1938-39 he was recruited as player-coach by the new Falkirk Lions and spent the two seasons before the war in the Scottish National League. He enjoyed a career year in 1939-40, scoring 38 goals and 55 points, with the Lions finishing runners-up in the league and cup.
Returning to Canada during the war, he played senior hockey before joining the Canadian Navy. When peace resumed, he returned to London and switched to defence at Streatham before taking a maintenance job at the Empire Pool and playing his final league season in 1947-48 for Wembley Lions.
On his retirement, age 33, after seven seasons in the national leagues, according to figures published in the Ice Hockey World, he stood second all-time in goals (behind Brighton’s Bobby Lee) with 189. This included 28 for Streatham in 1946-47, then a single-season record for a defenceman.
At 17 Gerry was the youngest player in Berlin where his international career began with the 1932 European Championships. On a team composed mostly of players with a similar background to his, he was outstanding on right-wing, netting eight times in four games. The 5-foot, 8-inch, 160lbs teenager ended as the Championships’ top goal-scorer, and was the darling of the crowd and the German press.
After being capped 12 times in the 1934 and 1935 World Championships when he added seven goals to his total, Davey missed game two of the 1936 Olympic Games with a ‘flu-like cold’. But he rose from his sickbed for game three and within 40 seconds he had wristed a shot from centre-ice past Canada’s netminder. This turned out to be GB’s winning goal in their shock 2-1 defeat of the perennial world champions. “Well, it just made me feel good,” he calmly recalled later.
In front of 10,000-strong crowds, he went on to score six more times in the remaining four contests and ended as the Olympics’ third highest scorer. He and netminder Jimmy Foster were the key men in GB’s remarkable achievement of the Triple Crown of Olympic, World and European titles.
Another 17 goals – in as many games – came in the 1937 and 1938 Championships when GB twice won the European title. Surprisingly, he declined his selection for the 1939 event saying he “wanted to give other and younger players a chance”. He was 24.
After Britain passed on the 1947 Championships, Davey was persuaded to make a ‘comeback’ for the 1948 Olympics. Coming ten years after his last appearance for the national team, he dropped back to defence from where he still managed to score five times in seven outings.
He decided this was a good time to retire, but he found it hard to stay away from the ice and turned his hand to refereeing for a number of years. He also did a season with Intermediate League side Streatham Royals in 1949-50.
John Gerry Davey was born on 5 September 1914 in Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada and died on 12 February 1977 in Orange County, Florida, USA. In 1949, he was only the fourth person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.