One of Britain’s most respected on-ice officials, Micky Curry handled games in seven Heineken British Championships at Wembley Arena in the 1980s and early 1990s and a number of World Championships and international tournaments.
Curry came up through the junior system at Durham and broke into the senior Wasps in 1975 when he was 20. Unfortunately, his playing career was interrupted by an eye injury and he retired from playing just five games into the 1982-83 season.
Not wanting to quit the sport entirely, he turned his hand to officiating in the newly formed Heineken British League, first as a linesman and then as a referee. In all, he officiated in 234 Premier Division games, 166 of them as referee and 68 as a linesman.
His assignments included seven British Championships, starting as a linesman in 1985. He refereed one of the semi-finals three years in a row – in 1990, 1991 and 1992 – and had been tipped to handle the 1993 final.
His international career began in 1988 as a linesman in the European Junior Championships (Pool B) in Briancon, France. He followed this with two stints in Pool C of the World Junior Championships and a European Cup quarter-final group in Rouen, France. In 1992 he was moved up to Pool B of the senior World Championships and in the November he went to Milan, Italy for the European Cup semi-finals. As 1992 drew to an end, he handled some of the games between the best Canadian and Russian teenagers in Pool A of the World Junior Championships in Sweden.
Tragically, on 7 March 1993, while returning home with a linesman after officiating a game in Peterborough, their car was involved in a head-on collision with a van travelling on the wrong side of the A1 dual carriageway, and the popular and promising official was killed outright. He was 37. The 19-year-old van driver, a student, was convicted of driving while intoxicated and jailed for 18 months.
Micky had been expected to referee at Pool A of the 1994 World Championships in which Great Britain played. His great ambition was to call games at the Winter Olympics.
At his memorial game held in Durham, his erstwhile teammate and coach Peter Johnson said: “Mickey had a totally professional attitude and always kept himself fit. His calming influence, talking to you or just telling you to keep your mouth shut, is what I will always remember about him.”
His influence was not confined to the games in which he participated. His help and encouragement were also appreciated by up-and-coming officials whom he assisted at seminars and training camps.
Michael Curry was born on 26 October 1955 at Hetton-le-Hole, Co Durham. In recognition of his contributions to the game, the governing British Ice Hockey Association instituted an annual award in his name for the most improved young official. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.