Jimmy Chappell was a member of the unforgettable Great Britain squad that shocked the ice hockey world in 1936 when they carried off the Triple Crown of Olympic, World and European titles.
A Yorkshireman by birth, he was ten-years-old when he emigrated to Canada with his family and they settled in Ontario. The youngster fell in love with hockey and played in the Ontario Junior Hockey Association for Oshawa and Whitby in 1932-35.
A fine stick-handler and a gentlemanly player, Jim’s debut with the Great Britain team in 1936 was deliberately timed as it was an Olympic year and the British Ice Hockey Association was determined that GB should make a good showing. He was capped in all six of their games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, scoring twice.
A year later in front of a fanatical 10,000-strong crowd in the Empire Pool, Wembley, his play-making at centre and right-wing was vital in the battle against Switzerland for European supremacy. He assisted Gordon Dailley on the opening goal before scoring the third himself five minutes from the end of the 3-0 victory. When GB met the Swiss again five days later in the tournament’s final pool, he hit the back of the net once more to help his team to a 2-0 shutout.
Chappell was capped a further eight times in the 1938 World Championships in Prague where Britain made it a straight hat-trick of European titles with the aid of his three goals and six points. He became one of the few Brits to ice in two Winter Olympic ice hockey tournaments when he was selected again for GB in 1948 and scored three times in Switzerland.
Chappell had been among the first British-born Canadians to be recruited by the new professional English National League in 1935. So keen was he to play in his home country that he skipped a university course to cross the Atlantic and sign with Earls Court Rangers in west London. He spent three seasons with the Empress Hall crew, centring their second line, and they won the London Cup in his first season and the National Tournament in his second.
In 1938 he moved north and joined Fife Flyers in the fast expanding Scottish National League, before lacing up with Dunfermline Vikings and Ayr Raiders in the last season before the Second World War. During the conflict, he rose to the rank of captain in the Ordinance Corps of the Canadian Army and took part in the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.
On his return to hockey, he played a key role in Brighton Tigers’ dominance of the English National League, which included two league titles and the Grand Slam in 1946-47 when he was the club’s second highest pointsman. His three-season tally was 136 points (72 goals) in 130 games.
On retiring from playing he donned a referee’s shirt for a spell, which included the 1950 World Championships in London, before he returned to Canada with his family and pursued a successful business career in Toronto. He also represented Canada at cricket.
James William Chappell was born on 25 March 1915 in Batley, Yorkshire and died suddenly while on holiday in Pinellas County, Florida on 3 April 1973. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.