Phil Drackett was a prolific writer on ice hockey, his favourite sport, in a journalism career that spanned 60 years from the 1940s until the new century.
He started out as a regular contributor to Ice Hockey World, the first weekly ice hockey newspaper anywhere, working closely with its Canadian editor, Bob Giddens, until the paper’s demise in 1958.
He later recalled those days in several books, the best of which are Flashing Blades (1987), a history of the sport’s first Golden Era in 1935-60, and Vendetta on Ice (1992), the story of Great Britain’s Triple Crown triumph of Olympic, World and European titles in 1936.
When Flashing Blades proved a success, he penned more tales of the game’s first professional era under the title Champions on Ice (2000). He was writing almost to the end as his latest volume, Hollywood on Ice, about hockey players’ connections with the movies, came out only months before his death.
His love for the game began when his father took him and his brother to a game at Harringay Arena soon after it opened in 1936 not far from his home in north London. He enjoyed the experience so much that he took up netminding and became a back-up with the various teams that played there before and after World War Two.
A burly and jolly man, he first wrote for Ice Hockey World in 1939-40, the last season of the National League before the war, and became a full-time contributor in 1946. A year later editor Giddens put him in charge of the Ice Hockey World Annual and he produced all nine editions.
When the pro game died out in the late 1950s, he continued his journalism in other sports before returning to his first love in the 1980s. Heineken were then the sponsors of a revived British League and many new rinks were springing up, notably in Peterborough, near his home in Mundesley, outside Norwich.
This inspired him to write and edit a new monthly magazine which he kept going on and off for eleven years between 1982 and 1993. This was known first as Puck and then, as a salute to earlier times, Ice Hockey World.
Always happy to help his fellow scribes, he often contributed obituaries of former players – many of whom were his personal friends – to The Ice Hockey Annual and the fortnightly Ice Hockey News Review.
Philip Drackett was born on 22 December 1922 in Finchley, north London and died on 27 November 2006 in Mundesley. An honorary life member of Ice Hockey Journalists UK, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. His only brother, Alan, who also wrote for the Ice Hockey World, predeceased him by six months.