A star in Wembley’s Empire Pool before World War Two, Gordon Dailley was a member of Great Britain’s successful World Championship teams of the 1930s, notably in 1936 when they won the Triple Crown of Olympic, World and European titles.
The left-winger left Canada during the Depression in 1933 in search of a game in the land where his father was born. After working his passage across the Atlantic on a cattle boat, he found a team in central London, the Grosvenor House Canadians, and helped them to win the English League.
The following year he and some team-mates moved across London to play in the new arena at Wembley on the league’s rookie side, the Lions. Big and fast, he proved to be equally at home in attack or on defence, and when the league expanded in 1935-36, he became a robust defender who enjoyed the occasional up-ice rush. He and the Lions won the renamed English National League in its first two seasons.
When he switched to Wembley’s other team, the Monarchs, for the 1937-38 campaign he captained the side for two years as they reached the runners-up place in both terms and he became a big favourite with the packed crowds in the 10,000-capacity arena.
An all-round athlete, who played with only 40 per cent vision in one eye after a high-sticking incident, he first represented his adopted country in the 1935 World Championships in Davos, Switzerland. He scored four times, including the overtime winner in the last game against Czechoslovakia, which ensured a bronze medal for GB.
In the Olympic year of 1936, he was one of a select group of 13 players capped for the games in Bavaria. Though he failed to score, according to contemporary sources, he came close on several occasions and some reports credit him with three assists.
When Britain defended their titles in London a year later, GB’s defence was anchored by Dailley and his fellow returnee, goalie Jimmy Foster. Remarkably, they didn’t concede a single goal in their first eight games, easily holding on to their European crown. Gordon, who had been appointed skipper, also beat the opposition netminders nine times, five of the goals coming in front of his adoring home fans.
The Monarchs’ rearguard was now GB’s undisputed skipper. In the last two championships before the war, he was capped 13 times, with GB winning a third Euro gold in Prague in 1938 when the Brits outscored the rest 27-8. In all, he played in 36 contests for GB, scoring 20 points (15 goals).
When the Second World War curtailed his hockey career, he excelled in the military, rising to the rank of major in the Canadian Armoured Corps before joining the UN peace-keeping force in Korea where he was promoted to colonel. He was subsequently posted to Yugoslavia as Canada’s military attaché. Prior to his retirement, he commanded the Canadian military base in Gagetown, New Brunswick.
Gordon Debenham Dailley was born on 24 July 1911 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and died on 3 May 1989 in Cambridge, Ontario. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993 as a member of GB’s 1936 Olympic team.