Dundonian forward Marsh Key was reckoned by those who saw both players to be on a par with his fellow Hall of Famer Tony Hand as one of the outstanding talents produced in these islands. In his hey-day during the post-World War Two era, he was one of the few Brits to star in the Canadian-dominated leagues and later captained the Great Britain team.
Brought up just 600 yards from Dundee’s old Kingsway rink, he was spotted by Dundee Tigers’ coach George McNeil at a skating session when he was 13 and invited to attend a hockey practice. Three years later his stick-handling ability and timing saw him make his debut for the Tigers in season 1948-49. He remained a mainstay of their offence until pro hockey ceased at the Kingsway in 1955.
After a season with Perth Panthers, he spent the following winter first as player-coach with Swiss outfit, Crans-sur-Sierre, and then lined up with London’s Harringay Racers where he was teamed on the first line with Canadians Bill Glennie and Ray Maisoneuve.
The next year, 1957-58, he led the Racers’ scoring with 86 points (33 goals) from 56 games, and was voted the sport’s Best British Player by the readers of the weekly newspaper Ice Hockey World. In a club international in Stockholm that year, he scored Racers’ winning goal in the Ahearne Cup final in front of 14,000 fans.
When Harringay Arena closed he returned to Scotland to play the last two seasons of the old British League with Edinburgh Royals and Paisley Pirates. In all, Key played 506 games between 1948 and 1960, scoring 549 points (217 goals), with only 167 penalty minutes.
Marsh scored a hat-trick for Scotland against England in the Home International in Southampton on 4 February 1961 while he was a member of Johnny Carlyle’s BIHA Cup-winning Murrayfield Royals. This should have secured his place in the 1961 World Championships but a serious back injury put paid to his hopes. Worse still, it kept him out of hockey completely for over two years, a period that included two more World Championships.
He had also suffered World Championship disappointment in 1950 when the selectors felt he was too young at 17 for the games in London, even though he had scored for Scotland in a trial game against England. Since then his GB ambitions had been thwarted for various reasons beyond his control.
Following spinal fusion surgery, he returned to the fray in 1963-64 to play two seasons in Perth, Glasgow and Edinburgh before finally getting his chance to line-up for Great Britain in 1965 at the age of 32. Held in high esteem by his team-mates, he was appointed captain of the squad in Finland which played six games in Pool B, scored twice and added four assists.
After deciding this was a good time to retire, four years later he was persuaded to return by his friend Tom Stewart. He played and coached Stewart’s re-formed Dundee squad, the Rockets, a task he performed well enough to be voted to the All Star A team as coach.
An enthusiastic and popular player, Marsh was also a great believer in developing local lads. He formed a junior school in Dundee and was proud that three of his pupils – Jim Pennycook, Charlie Kinmond and Mike Ward – went on to represent Scotland and Britain.
He performed the opening ceremony at the new Dundee Ice Arena in 2000, and one of the function suites is named in his honour. A low-handicap golfer, he was for years a member of the world famous Carnoustie golf club.
Marshall Whitton Key was born on 18 June 1932 in Dundee and died on 5 February 2016. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.