By Neil Young
In the first match at their new home in Brixton, Planet Ice, Streatham Redskins met league leaders Romford Raiders on 7 January .
The game was delayed to allow the large numbers queuing outside to get into the rink.
Buoyed by a raucous home crowd, the Redskins surged to an unlikely lead against Romford Raiders in the first half of the match.
As the buzzer blared to announce the start, the Raiders were first onto the ice, circumventing the serene, soon to be violently excoriated surface of the rink with, it seemed to Brixton Blog, a certain air of nonchalance.
The Redskins rushed out onto the ice, darting venomously among their beefier opponents.
The teams lined up and Planet Ice reverberated with the sound of the crowd banging the protective glass surrounding the rink.
“Those shoulder-pads are amazing!” exclaimed a nearby spectator.
There was a short pause for the national anthem and then a rattle of clashing hockey sticks as the game began.
The Raiders were quick to assert their authority, deftly threading the puck between the defenders’ flailing bodies. Their first goal caused a violent ‘crack’ as the hockey puck shot home.
“That goalie looks like Optimus Prime,” remarked the spectator. “I think it’s the padding.”
Undaunted, the Redskins regrouped, counterattacked, then scored!
The Redskins swarmed down the length of the rink with renewed intent.
Redskins score again!
There was consternation among Romford supporters. Weren’t bottom-of-the table Streatham supposed to be the underdogs?
“Yeah well, you’d have thought that,” said one, arms folded.
Raiders 1. Redskins 3.
During the intermission long-time Streatham supporter Justin Wickens explained his passion for the game:
“I first got interested when watching the 1968 Olympic ice hockey final. That was a momentous event. The Soviet Union had just invaded Czechoslovakia, and here they were facing each other in an Olympic final.
“What do I love about the game? It’s just all action. If there’s any interruption in play the clock stops. If anyone’s wasting time they get put in the sin-bin. You don’t get this nonsense in football where they’re just kicking the ball around and nothing’s happening. There’s loads of shots on goal.
“I was watching a terrible football match back in the early 80s. I thought there had to be something better than this rubbish. I looked in Time Out and discovered the Redskins and I’ve been supporting them ever since. They’ve gone from being one of England’s top teams to being a struggling team but I’ve continued to support them – they deserve it.”
Sitting next to Justin was Ron Hookin, quite possibly Streatham’s oldest supporter. He’s been following the team since 1958, and has the team badge to prove it.
What has kept him coming back week after week?
Ron looked slowly out over the glinting ice.
Romford were sharking back onto the rink. The Redskins drifted fanwise, preparing to face what would prove to be a fast-approaching onslaught.
Ron gestured widely, taking in the floodlights, the milling queue at the broken vending machine, the black-and-white-striped referees, the crowd ranged around the rink and the two teams on the ice.
“Friends,” he said. “You know.”
The Raiders eventually won 6-4.