Glynne Thomas was one of the country’s finest netminders in the 1960s and 1970s, playing for Great Britain in two World Championships and earning berths on numerous All-Star teams.
Glynne spent the 1950s learning his position at the Richmond rink, first in their Young Britain training sessions under Canadian Greg Ward, and then in the Intermediate League with Richmond Ambassadors.
His first regular senior outings began in Southampton in 1961-62 when he was 26, and he impressed enough to win All-Star recognition in his first two seasons with the Vikings. When hockey ceased there in 1963, most of the team transferred to Wembley to be the core of the re-formed Lions.
He back-stopped the side to victory in the London Cup and Spring Cup in that first season and was voted Player of the Year by The Hockey Fan. But his campaign was overshadowed by his broken jaw which he sustained in practice when he was struck by a hard shot from a team-mate. Deciding enough was enough he became the first goalie in Britain to wear a face mask, made of moulded fibreglass, similar to the one pioneered by the NHL’s Jacques Plante.
Glynne never missed a game at the Empire Pool, but the venerable arena suddenly ceased staging the sport in November 1968 and he didn’t don his mask again for almost four years.
When he next put on his pads in 1972-73 it was with a team known as Wembley Vets, who played all their games on the road as there were so few rinks in southern England. The next season they merged with the similarly homeless Sussex Senators to form the new Streatham team. He backstopped the newly named Redskins to four play-off championships and numerous home tournament titles and was named to the All-Star A team in every season except his last.
His final season, 1981-82, came at the dawn of a new era as Streatham, coached by Red Imrie, swept the board in the revived English National League and the parallel Inter-City League (ICL), and Thomas went out on a high as the ICL’s Netminder of the Year at the age of 46.
Internationally, he was capped five times for England against the Scots, and by GB in two World Championships – Pool B in 1961 and Pool C in 1976 – and the Danish Pondus Cup in 1975.
His quick catching hand, agility and cool head, plus the durability essential in the days of no back-ups, made him one of the best, if not the best netminder of his generation.
Brian Glynne Thomas was born on 5 May 1935 in Acton, West London and died there on 21 February 2021. In 1991, he was only the third netminder to be inducted into the Hall of Fame