Bustling forward Tim Cranston scored the winning goal for Great Britain’s 1993 World Championship promotion-winning side and was a key member of many of Sheffield Steelers’ trophy-winning teams.
As well as his knack for scoring key goals, he had a talent for upsetting his opponents and drawing penalties. In hockey parlance he was a pest, and consequently a great fan favourite.
Cranston wrote his name indelibly into the record books at 57.16 minutes on 31 March 1993 when he broke clear to slam the puck from 25 feet over the outstretched glove of the Dutch netminder, who was moving the other way. His third winning goal in as many games in Eindhoven, Netherlands, it ensured GB would play in Pool A of the World Championships for the first time since 1962.
He was capped a total of 39 times for his adopted country in the 1990s – four World Championships and two Olympic qualifying tournaments – scoring 24 points (11 goals).
His earliest memory of hockey is an injury at the age of six which required two stitches to a lip. After moving through Canada’s hockey system, including three years at major junior level, he spent a season with the Dalhousie University Tigers. He played in Europe for four years before coming to this country in 1988-89.
After a short spell with Fife Flyers he went to Billingham, helping Cleveland Bombers gain promotion to the Heineken British League’s Premier Division and earning All-Star recognition. The next winter he and the Bombers won the Autumn Cup.
A year followed as one of Durham Wasps’ three high-scoring import forwards on their league and championship double winning side in 1991-92, before he was snapped up by the ambitious new Steelers in the summer of 1993. Thus began a five-season love affair between the fans and the player they dubbed ‘Turbo Tim’.
In his first Sheffield campaign he led the team in goals (52) and points (101) in the 44-game Premier Division, and in his second British Championship play-off final at Wembley Arena in 1994 he was named Steelers’ man of the match, though his team were heavily defeated.
In Cranston’s second visit to Wembley he scored the winning goal with another man of the match performance as the Steelers captured the 1995 Championships in only their fourth season. His 41 goals had been crucial in his side winning their first Premier Division title.
For his final winter of British hockey in 1998-99 he signed for Edinburgh and played in around half of Capitals’ British National League schedule before deciding to return to Canada to pursue a career as a sports attorney and hockey agent.
Tim was also instrumental in the formation of a player’s union in 1993. A law student, he became concerned about the legal status of Canadians like himself who were being treated by the league as foreigners, despite their ancestry entitling them to hold British passports. The players had further issues with the league like contracts, work permits, wage caps and insurance. With the assistance of qualified lawyer (and fellow Hall of Famer) Joanne Collins, he and other like-minded players set up the Ice Hockey Players Association (GB) and he served as its first chairman.
Tim Cranston was born on 13 December 1962 at Halifax, Nova Scotia. His Steelers’ no. 4 jersey was retired in a ceremony at Sheffield Arena in February 1999. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.