Canadian Keith Kewley captained and coached three different Scottish teams to championship titles in the 1940s and 1950s and was instrumental in developing several Scottish youngsters to success.
He was the driving force behind the major trophy winning performances of three Scottish National League sides, captaining Dunfermline Vikings to the Play-Off Championship, Autumn Cup and Canada Cup, and coaching them to the Simpson Trophy in 1947-48.
Kewley, who came to this country in 1946, inherited his love of the game from his father Claude, the assistant sports editor of the Toronto Globe & Mail, who acted as the Canadian scout of the Scottish Ice Hockey Association after World War Two. Three of Keith’s siblings – Herb, Hal and Danny – also played in Scotland.
A keen student of the game, always receptive to new ideas, Keith was appointed coach of the Vikings at the age of 22. His meticulous preparation and innovative development of strategy and set plays set him apart from his rivals, most of whom were older than he was.
It is his mostly talent for mentoring players for which he is honoured here. He was particularly supportive of promising young Scots and brought several of them into the Canadian dominated league. His reasons were not wholly altruistic as he realised that a small roster of 10 or 12 imports, playing in a punishing schedule of 60-plus games, was going to need replacements during the season. Developing locals was a cost-effective option.
Keith departed to Canada with his new wife in 1948 but he was back for season 1950-51 with a homesick spouse and an offer from Ayr’s manager Ross Low to coach the Raiders. He stayed for two seasons, guiding them to the league and Autumn Cup double in his second campaign. Paisley boss Bill Creasey was the next to tempt him away and, with the luxury of virtually unlimited ice-time at the East Lane stadium, the Pirates won the treble of league, Autumn Cup and Canada Cup in 1953-54.
Naturally, he took great pleasure in the fact that five of his better players that year were Scotsmen: Tuck and Tiny Syme on defence, and Dave Ferguson, Billy Brennan and Bill Crawford up front. Belatedly, in his final season here in 1955-56 he was voted onto the All-Star ‘A’ team as coach.
Brennan recalled his first coaching session with Kewley when he was 17: “It really opened my eyes,” he said. “I learned more in that hour than I had picked up in the previous four years.”
At the age of 31, and with British ice hockey in serious decline, he took his wife and two sons back to Canada for a final time. There he set up a career in business while continuing to indulge his passion, coaching players at all levels, and lived to a grand old age, his sons having provided him with four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
William Keith Kewley was born in Stratford, Ontario on 10 July 1925 and died on 30 July 2020 in St Thomas, Ontario. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.