Scotsman Jackson McBride was one of the leading points scorers in the Northern League during the 1970s. He was the league’s Player of the Year in 1974-75 and the driving force behind Ayr Bruins’ 1976 British Championship success.
Starting out as a 16-year-old with Paisley Vikings in 1962, he developed into an outstanding left winger on the Mohawks’ all-conquering squad, which included his mentor and fellow Hall of Famer Billy Brennan, and he earned All-Star ‘B’ team honours in 1968-69.
He had already moved to the west coast of Scotland when hockey at Paisley collapsed after the 1968-69 campaign. Consequently, though he was only 23, he readily accepted Ayr’s invitation to take over as player-coach of the Bruins. He spent three terms there between 1969-70 and 1971-72, making it onto the All-Star ‘A’ forward line in all three years.
When Ayr’s 4,000-seat Beresford Terrace arena closed at the end of his third season, McBride joined Glasgow Dynamos, playing out of the Crossmyloof rink, until he was able to return to Ayr when the town’s much smaller ice venue opened in Limekiln Road.
The Bruins’ fortunes revived and the highlight of Jackson’s career came in 1975-76 when they were declared national club champions. He scored a goal and two assists in their 9-3 second leg (14-8 aggregate) victory in south London, beating Streatham Redskins to win the Icy Smith Cup.
He remained with the Bruins for five seasons, though in a playing capacity only after 1976-77. At the end of the 1978-79 campaign, he had played 226 Northern League games with Paisley, Ayr and Glasgow, scoring 518 points (241 goals), for eighth place all-time. He was assessed 430 penalty minutes.
Jake, as he was known to his team-mates, coached Irvine Magnum Wings for four seasons, 1983-84 to 1986-87, in the lower reaches of the British League before, at the age of 41, joining the coaching staff of Glen Henderson’s Ayr Bruins in 1987-88 in the league’s Premier Division.
An inspirational figure to the youngsters in Ayr where he coached their junior teams, he was also on the bench in Kilmarnock in the early 1990s when they competed in the Scottish League. His last position was player-coach of the recreational side, Ayr Jets.
Internationally, he was capped 15 times for Great Britain in the 1971, 1973 and 1976 World Championships, scoring eight points (four goals). He also donned the Union flag in Copenhagen for the Pondus Cup international tournament in December 1975.
McBride was a fast skater, skilful stickhandler and hard shooter, who relished the game’s physical aspects. However, a dearth of ice rinks during the 1970s and a consequent lack of opportunities on Britain’s national team meant his potential was never fully realised. Several of his contemporaries believed he could have carved out a career in North America but this was rarely done at the time.
Jackson McBride was born on 28 August 1946 in Paisley, Scotland and died on 10 July 2003 in Clayton-le-Moors, near Blackburn, Lancs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.