MARTIN C HARRIS
Martin C Harris is widely acknowledged as the foremost historian of British ice hockey. He has authored two important books on the game and co-authored a third, while bringing to the fans’ attention some of the more significant milestones in the sport’s development.
“Homes of British Ice Hockey” (Tempus Publishing, 2005) contains a wealth of detail about all the ice rinks where clubs have been established and “The British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame” (Tempus Publishing, 2007) does the same for those who have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to the sport.
In 2019 he and Scotsman David Gordon self-published “Lion in Winter”, a deeply researched 650-page work covering the early history (1910-81) of Great Britain in the Olympic Games and World Championships, and made it available through the internet on www.lulu.com.
Harris’s research, which helped to produce these books, was carried out over some 60 years. He fell in love with the sport as a boy when his father first took him to the Vikings hockey games in his home town of Southampton in 1952. He later enjoyed a spell as a goalie in junior hockey and he treasures a memory of shutting out the Tiger Cubs in Brighton in the days before masks and helmets.
When he married, his wife Barbara’s book collection prompted him to start collecting books on hockey and to search for more match-night programmes to go with his old Vikings ones, as well as copies of the Ice Hockey World’s weekly paper and annuals.
By the time he moved to London in his early twenties, the bug had really taken hold and he spent many hours of his spare time researching the sport’s history in the British Newspaper Library. There he discovered such gems as the first international club games being played in London’s now-defunct Princes’ ice rink in Knightsbridge.
He also regularly logged on to on eBay, purchasing many rare British programmes, eventually creating an archive of several thousand, going back to the 1920s. The entire collection of books and programmes has been accepted as a bequest by Bath University.
For many years Martin wrote a ‘Nostalgia Corner’ column in Vic Batchelder’s Ice Hockey News Review, and he was always the first person Stewart Roberts contacted when he needed a biography or obituary of a player or personality for The Ice Hockey Annual.
He carefully filed the players’ career information on a card index in his ‘hockey room’, a spare room in his Ealing home stacked from floor to ceiling with books on ice hockey from both sides of the Atlantic. At the sight of this vast collection, one North American visitor exclaimed appreciatively – “I thought I was in Canada!”. Indeed, his “Homes” won an award for outstanding writing and research from the Toronto-based Society for International Hockey Research.
Away from his writing and his day job as a technical architect, Harris’s love of the game extended to other areas. He was an official with the Inter-City League and later Southern League in the 1970s, and served two spells on the governing British Ice Hockey Association.
In the 1980s and 1990s he was a match official, acting as a linesman in the Heineken British League and as a referee in the English League, and was briefly Youth Development Officer with the English Ice Hockey Association.
Martin Christopher Harris (he only used the initial ‘C’ in his hockey writing) was born on 25 February 1937 in Southampton.