Moray Hanson enjoyed a long career as both a player and match official in British Ice Hockey.
The former Murrayfield/Edinburgh Racers, Fife Flyers, Dumfries Border Vikings and Great Britain netminder was bitten by the hockey bug during the 1970s, after being taken by his dad to watch a game at Murrayfield.
Within a few weeks he started to learn to skate, before joining the Racers’ newly-formed U16 team who were coached by former player Gordon Inglis.
With the team on the lookout for a goalie, Hanson took advantage of their offer to supply him with the necessary equipment and his career between the pipes began.
He made his Racers debut in 1981 and says he was a bit apprehensive at first: “I was playing in the second team and a few of the players were called up to the main team and I must admit I was a bit nervous,” said Hanson.
“At that time the Racers had many talented players who were playing for the British team. so for a young 17-year-old it was quite a step up, but I like a challenge and actually looked forward to it.
“I can’t honestly remember who the opponents were, but I’m sure we won.”
During 13 years with the Racers organisation, Hanson played with some of the top names to have graced the British game.
He describes Jim Lynch as ‘the most under-rated coach in Britain’ and says his partnership with Milan Figala was a formidable one.
“My best-ever line would have Brian McKee and Chris Kelland on defence,” he said. “Brian was a great all-round player and had the hardest slapshot I’ve ever seen, while Chris gave 100% in every game and looked after the young boys on and off the ice.
“The forwards would have to be Rick Fera, Tony Hand and Alex Dampier. Rick was an amazing player who had a fantastic partnership and understanding with Tony.
“As for Tony – his stats say it all – one of the best players to come out of Great Britain and Alex was a fantastic team player who built the Racers to the team everyone knows and remembers.
“Netminder? That would have to be me of course!”
Hanson says his most enjoyable year with the Racers was in 1986 when they won the British Championship at Wembley and that his toughest opponent was Danny Shea of Ayr Bruins.
“The guy had it all and it’s a pity there aren’t more playing the game today like him,” said Hanson.
He admits his move to rivals Fife in 1992 was an offer ‘too good to refuse’ and that the thought of their fans singing ‘Mo, Mo, Super Mo’ was an opportunity not to be missed.
Hanson returned to the Racers after a year, but the club went into liquidation in 1994 – an event he says was a sad day for the sport in this country.
“It was obviously very disappointing to me as they were a huge part of my life and my friends lives,” he said.
“They played an important role in representing the Lothians and Edinburgh and were one of the biggest names in British Ice Hockey with a fantastic fan base which I know is missed even to this day.
Hanson finished his playing career with Dumfries alongside former Racers teammates Paul Pentland and Richie Lamb, with Lynch and Figala continuing their coaching partnership with the Vikings.
The highlight of Hanson’s international career came when he played in the World Championship ‘A’ Pool in Italy against the top nations in the world.
“I still have the best netminder trophy for Great Britain from that tournament sitting in my office at home and every time I look at it I have many happy memories of the Championship and the fun that we all had as a team,” Hanson said.
After his playing career ended Hanson became a match official and he went on to become the only British person to have played and refereed international ‘A’ pool games.
He believes his experiences as a player made him a better referee and thinks more players should take up officiating at the end of their careers.
Hanson now works as a driving instructor and spends time travelling with his wife Anne. He also enjoys playing golf, but still occasionally get calls for advice from within ice hockey and always helps out where he can.
Having been involved in the game for so many years Hanson says the sport is still in his blood, but while there are some parts he misses, there are others he is quite happy to leave behind.
With Edinburgh Capitals continuing the tradition of hockey at Murrayfield, their struggles this season haven’t gone unnoticed by Hanson and he hopes the fans can help the club enjoy better fortunes in the future.
“Enjoy your hockey, get behind your team and help the sport get bigger and better,” said Hanson.
“I believe there is a huge ice hockey fanbase out there, but they just need a little encouragement to get back into the sport.