London Ice Hockey - Streatham Ice Hockey News 2014 | Streatham Ice Hockey -
Mar 30, 2016

Club announcement for 2016/17

As the oldest ice hockey club in England, Streatham have proudly competed in various leagues over the past 84 years representing our community and the city of London in the UK and abroad.

We have a long and at times successful history to be proud of and this is no mean feat in a sport where few teams have managed to survive the economic and social pressures they have encountered.

From our beginnings in the 1932, our golden age in the 1950’s and then the 1960’s where the club stagnated and struggled, we were known as simply ‘Streatham’.

In the 1970’s, as the club emerged from a troubled period we re-branded with an American influenced additional name to become the Streatham Redskins.

The period that followed created legends and stories that many of our fans still remember fondly. Our presence in the British Premier League put us back alongside the elite of UK hockey and this continued into the early nineties until the team folded for a ten year period.

We returned in 2004, continued the Redskins theme and have slowly built ourselves up through a difficult transition period while our old historic ice rink closed, to the point today where we play out of the best permanent ice facility in London and have started to contend for trophies albeit in the third tier of the UK hockey. We want to continue this growth.

A lot has changed since those days in the 1970’s where a set of replica Chicago Blackhawks jerseys influenced us to call ourselves the Redskins. This was done at the time with the best of intentions as it invoked a sense of fierce warriors and was way before any negative or divisive connotations were associated with the name.

As a progressive and forward looking team who want to attract new supporters, encourage more local kids to join our junior club and create a positive image for ice hockey within our great city we have decided to drop the Redskins name from our team at the end of this season. We have not taken this decision lightly and realise that many of our long time supporters may not agree with the change, but we hope they will understand.

For the past two seasons the team has implemented a medium term plan to move away from the use of the Redskins name in preparation for a final removal for the beginning of the 2016/17 season.

The Native American Indian face on the front of the team shirts has already been replaced with our very well received Streatham logo from our early years of existence. The branding used on social media sites, including the website address, was also updated in line with this plan at the start of last season.

In addition, our junior club (under 9 through to under 18) also now uses the traditional logo and has no reference to the Indian logo on their jerseys.

This summer we will be consulting with our supporters to decide if any new name should be added or whether we will go back to our roots and simply compete as Streatham IHC once again. More details on this consultation will follow but we believe this will be a really positive exercise for our supporters and also the wider community.

We must point out that it is not our intention to take sides in the Washington Redskins NFL debate. America is not England and Washington is not Streatham. It is about making the correct decision for us and not to dictate policy for anyone else.

We have had no pressure to change the name from any politicians, councillors, sponsors or press here in the UK so the decision is ours alone and we wish to make that clear.

Head Coach Warren Rost’s father John was part of the founding group of players who introduced the Redskins name back in the 1970’s. Warren played all of his junior hockey at Streatham and went on to play for the club for many years before returning as Coach after a long career in the game at Ayr and Slough. He has the following statement to make:

‘Ideally this press release would have been done in the off-season and not before the play offs but we find ourselves being drawn into a public debate due to the upcoming NFL game in London and felt we needed to clarify our intentions; to be clear our intention is (and has been for a couple of years now) to change the name.' 

 ‘During the Golden Age of British Ice Hockey a key team was the Wembley Lions and a key player for this team was my Grandad “Sonny”, he introduced my father John to the sport and he also enjoyed a long and successful career. The Wembley Lions disbanded around 1967 but my father John still wanted to play, so he got together with likeminded friends and started playing matches in the Old Streatham rink using the name “Wembley Veterans”.

‘When it was pointed out to him that he could not use this name, unless everyone involved had previously played for Wembley, they needed a new name and the Streatham Redskins were born. 

‘In those days getting ice hockey team strips was not easy and for the most part you would have been restricted to replicas of the NHL teams. They chose the Chicago Blackhawks colours and opted to go with the Native American face which Chicago used as a logo, simply because it was a logo they could get. 

‘They did not want however to be the Streatham Blackhawks so they settled on Redskins because it invoked a sense of fierce warriors and it kept the Native American theme of the logo.

‘The senior team was a group of friends playing a sport they loved but the dream was to have a junior club.  Very few existed nationwide at that time and none in London. I began my playing career with the Streatham Braves in the 1970’s. The club was very successful and at the forefront of the growth of junior hockey in the country. It is also fair to say that the Club was a pioneer in racial integration in ice hockey and also contributed positively on this issue in the local community.

‘One of my father’s defensive partners over the years was Erskine Douglas. Erskine was one of the stand-out defencemen of his generation and went on to make a big impact on ice hockey in general after his playing career. He ran the first coaching course I went on and was a key figure in the early days of the coaching programme which has been pivotal in the sports progression. Incidentally, for those of you who do not know, Erskine is a Londoner of Afro-Caribbean decent. 

‘The club has always reflected the diversity of our local area, and indeed London itself. If we keep the Redskins name and fast forward 5, 10, 20 years I think it is clear with the negative connotations associated with the name that a young Erskine Douglas may not feel comfortable joining the club in this future. 

‘If that happens then the dream dies. The dream was an inner city sports club that became a big part of the local community and offered a place where everyone was welcomed and treated equally. If we do not make the correct decisions now to protect this legacy then this will be to our shame.

‘The season is still going on, the players did an amazing job to get to the cup final and there is much to look forward to on the ice. We have to make sure we still focus on the job at hand, which is winning a trophy. We want the name Redskins to go out in a blaze of glory at the end of this season.’

‘At the end of the season Club Captain Joe Johnston will share with you his research on potential new names for the team; historic names, new names and suggestions from key figures in the club’s history. Like me he has been involved with the club since he was a toddler so we are both lifelong fans of the Redskins and we both agree it is time for the name to evolve or return to its original form at the beginning of the club. 

‘To finish let me share with you the conversation I had with my father when I knew for certain the name would change.  I started with an almost apologetic tone, umming and arring assuming he would feel strongly the name should stay. Instead when I had finished explaining the situation he shrugged his shoulders and said:

“Change the name.  Who cares about the name?  It was never about the name it was always about the people.”

‘That sums up where are with this.  If we are to honour the people who went before us and protect that legacy then we need to change the name. The philosophy and values of the club will stay the same whatever the name of the team’.

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