Canadian Olympian Wally Monson was one of the most popular stars of the pre-war English National League, captaining Harringay Racers to the league title.
When the five feet, eight-inch centreman arrived in London, he brought a glowing CV, at the top of which was his part in Canada winning the gold medal at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. He was his nation’s top scorer with seven goals and 11 points in six games.
On his return home he played in the senior leagues, and in 1935-36 he was selected to the All-Star team in the Eastern Amateur League. This brought him to the attention of the big league and he was placed on the reserve list of the NHL’s Montreal Maroons.
When nothing came of this, he crossed the Atlantic to seek his hockey fortune in Europe and found it with the new Harringay Racers, whose state-of-the-art, 10,000 capacity venue – modelled on Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens – had just opened in north London.
For four years from 1936-37 until 1939-40, he and his right-winger and fellow Hall of Famer Bert Peer were among the Canucks whose talents earned the London-based English National League a reputation as ‘the finest league outside the NHL’.
He captained the team to the league title in 1937-38, two London Cups and a Coronation Cup, while he personally scored 56 goals and 85 assists and was named to the All-Star ‘B’ team in Racers’ inaugural campaign.
His ability, determination, loyalty and finesse earned him a devoted following, and he also acted as assistant coach to Percy Nicklin, who famously doubled as coach of Great Britain.
After the war he returned to Winnipeg and coached his home town Monarchs to several successes in the late 1940s and early 1950s, while continuing to serve Britain’s pro clubs by recruiting players for them during the post-war era.
Walter George Monson was born on 29 November 1909 in Winnipeg, Canada and died there on 9 January 1988. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955.