Scott Neil was one of Britain’s leading forwards with Sheffield Steelers and the teams at Murrayfield ice rink in his native Edinburgh. Between 1979-80 and 2001-02 he piled up nearly 1,300 points and was capped 37 times for Great Britain, making his debut when he was only 17. In later years, he worked hard raising funds to keep his home town team playing at the sport’s highest level.
Born into a family who share the ownership of the rink in Riversdale Crescent, he was a keen sportsman who loved football, and only learned to skate when he was 14. He was a quick study, however, and by the time he was 16 he had scored his first goal for Murrayfield Racers, at the Billingham Forum in April 1979.
Only a year later he captained Great Britain’s 18-and-under side in the European Junior Championships and produced a spectacular five-goal display against Belgium, GB’s only win of the tournament. The precocious teenager had made his first appearance for the team a year earlier, and in 1981 he made his World Championship debut for the senior squad in China.
Through a contact of Racers’ Canadian coach Alex Dampier, he attended university in Prince Edward Island where he was a useful soccer player. On his return four years later, ice hockey had taken off with the Heineken sponsorship and live television coverage.
In his next seven seasons with the Racers the five-foot, ten-inch, 185 lbs centre/right-wing scored over 100 league points four times and helped the team to win the Heineken British League twice, an Autumn Cup once, and reach the Heineken British Championship finals weekend at Wembley in every year bar one. He was voted onto the British All-Star team in 1988.
A change of management at Murrayfield led to him joining his former team mate Ronnie Wood and mentor Dampier in the new Sheffield Arena for 1992-93. He just missed out on the century mark with 99 points, this time in Division One of the Heineken League. His five terms as a Steeler included their Grand Slam season in 1995-96 and the first Superleague campaign when Scott’s cousin Tony Hand and Welshman Nicky Chinn were the only other Brits on the roster.
At the start of 1997-98, the Murrayfield team were struggling, unable to afford the ambitious Superleague, and he returned to help them. Though he top-scored, they finished last in the second tier British National League (BNL). Scott – now a director of the club – quit playing and dedicated himself to managing and bench coaching the side, which was renamed Edinburgh Capitals.
In the early 2000s he was the first to appreciate the value of Eastern European players and he signed, among others, defenceman Jan Krajicek, forward Martin Cingel and goalie Ladislav Kudrna. A brief light shone in season 2003-04 when he persuaded cousin Hand to join him. The Capitals finished a respectable third in the BNL while Tony was the league’s leading points scorer.
But they were never going to be able to afford to keep one of the sport’s finest ever players and the next season Scott was back working tirelessly to keep the show on the road. He bravely took the low budget Capitals into the Elite League in 2005 where they survived against the odds for many years.
At the end of his playing career, Neil had played in 687 official games, scoring 1,282 points (694 goals), with only 329 penalty minutes. Internationally, he appeared in six senior World Championships and an Olympic Qualifying competition, scoring 23 goals and 35 points.
Andrew Scott Neil was born in Edinburgh on 1 August 1962. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.