Information was received today that an old friend of the Nottingham Junior Ice Hockey Club, and the father of Ashley, Warren and Joanne died in the early hours of this morning.
A number of us will remember Gavin from the early days of the 1980s when along with Tony Macdonald they managed and coached the Nottingham Tigers under 13s. In that team and from that era came the nucleus of the ‘Brit Pack’ here in Nottingham leading invariably to play for the Nottingham Trojans and Panthers. It would be true to say that he was a dominant character and very driven to produce along with Tony first and foremost a unified, and disciplined team that would challenge for honours.
This whole team approach led to the Tigers winning a major tournament in Kirkcaldy a feat that had not previously been achieved by an English club. This result, especially beating Kirkcaldy Chiefs, led to the Scottish club and their GB coach making significant changes to their training and pre match preparation. It was an even harder pill for the guys north of the border to swallow as two English clubs met in the final with the Nottingham Tigers beating the Streatham Braves in a memorable game, winning on penalty shots.
The Tigers team did not win the league that year but within their ranks, as stated previously, was the nucleus of a formidable junior team that would move on to the u16s Cougars and would become the English and British Champions 1989/90 season.
Players that came through the ranks include Parker, Perkins, Budd, Trickett, Twaite, Tait, Bradbury, Roberts, Wright, Thompson, and many others including Matt Bradbury’s line man on defence and the greatly missed, Gary Rippingale who suddenly passed away aged 18 years old.
The Tigers travelled abroad for some memorable trips particularly the annual Christmas trip to the Canadian Air Force base in Baden, Germany. This international tournament was always great fun as well as a chance to try the Tigers team out against some exceptionally stiff opposition.
The social side of these trips abroad were pretty memorable for all sorts of reasons with B52s consumed in large quantities with our Canadian hosts. Gavin was always there at the centre of proceedings enjoying the camaraderie with all of the other international ice hockey buffs.
It cannot be understated the significant impact Gavin had on the development of junior ice hockey here in Nottingham and the strength of his personality that helped motivate those with whom he had contact within the club and across the country.
Happy memories of a man we and many of the ice hockey fraternity will certainly never forget and that is for certain.
Our sincere condolences to the Tait family at this very sad time.