Sam Stevenson spent more than half a century in ice hockey as a player, coach and team manager at the Crossmyloof ice rink in Glasgow. His magnificent record of service to the sport led to him being known as the Grand Old Man of Scottish ice hockey.
Opened in 1929, the cavernous rink on Titwood Road seated less than 1,000 spectators, but its vast area, 225 by 97 feet (67 by 30 metres), encouraged skaters in big numbers, with many taking up the sport.
Sam was probably in the rink as soon as its doors opened and turned out as a centreman for several of the inhouse teams – Kelvingrove, Dennistoun Eagles, Glasgow Mohawks and Lions – that made up the Scottish League for much of the 1930s. Short in stature and slimly built, ‘wee Sam’ won the league with the Mohawks in 193536 and 193637.
After playing his final game in 1938, he became manager and bench coach of the Mohawks and retained this role throughout the existence of the rink, apart from a brief spell in Paisley in the early 1960s when the rink manager took a dislike to ice hockey.
With his talented son Robert on the roster, the Mohawks, who changed their name to the Dynamos on their return to Crossmyloof in 1965, won the national knock-out tournament for the Icy Smith Cup in 1966-67 and the Spring Cup play-offs three years later. Such was his enthusiasm for the sport, he willingly undertook any chore, from taping sticks to fund-raising.
Stevenson retained his role remarkably until his 82nd year, by which time his grandson Dougie was playing for him. He never really retired but, in the best sporting tradition, simply faded away. After his beloved Crossmyloof closed in mid-season of 1985-86, he moved with the team to Glasgow’s new Summit Centre in Finnieston and continued to coach youngsters on Saturday mornings.
An all-round sportsman, Sam excelled at boxing, high diving and tennis. During the Second World War he served in Lord Lovatt’s Scouts, the forerunners of the Commandos.
The Grand Old Man begat an ice hockey dynasty. His elder son Robert joined him in the Hall of Fame in 2011 and his younger son Barrie, who died in 2005, also played for the Dynamos. A third generation, Robert’s sons Dougie and Allen, continued the line. Dougie represented his father’s new country, Australia, in the 1979 World Championships, and returned home in the early 1980s to play for the Dynamos. Allen was a GB under-18 international in the 1983 European Junior Championships.
Samuel Barrie Stevenson was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 20 July 1903 and died there on 4 August 1995. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.