From a desert, from the driest continent, from this land at the opposite end of the globe ...

... as remote as could be in the hockey world ...

... came one of the world’s oldest winter sports trophies.

A cool tradition, a dream of champions, and a story we owe it to our children to tell.

Legends of Australian Ice.

[ ICE HOCKEY ] Australia's Red Letter Day

March 15th 1962

Under no circumstances should a team be sent away without a coach ... [and] this Federation [should] submit to the [IIHF] Congress an addition to Article 31 whereby a player has to be resident in the country he desires to represent at least 15 months immediately prior to the Championships". — Russ Carson, Manager of Australia, 1962. [1]

With my experience of the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley, I feel that the standard of this team was more approaching the world standard and if there could have been 4 or 5 exhibition games before the Championships, in my opinion a full team would have won at least 4 games and been much closer to winning their group... no team, if possible, should travel overseas paying a proportion of their own expenses ... this Association ... must commence raising money immediately to make sure that sufficient funds are available when the next team goes away and as much practice arranged as possible". — Ken Wellman, Captain of Australia, 1962. [3] was possible for Australia to win B-Division, [but] the standard here is still a long way behind A-Division countries, a standard which we must aim for. I feel that we can only do this by bringing to Australia, players who can coach our teams to that standard, or ... arrange a visit from overseas teams ... always finance is the main stumbling block, but these same difficulties were present when sending teams overseas were first mooted and they have been overcome. I would not like to see Australia not keep progressing now that we have reached the first rung of the international ladder". — Syd Tange, Asst Manager of Australia, 1962. [2]

SUPPOSE THAT YOU AND I WERE SITTING on a quiet deck overlooking a beach, chatting and sipping at our glasses of cold beer while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, "That morning when I met so-and-so... was the very best morning of my life, and also the very worst morning." I expect you might put down your beer and say "Well, Doc, which was it? Was it the best or the worst? Because it can't possibly have been both, mate!" Usually I'd laugh at myself and agree with you. But the truth is that the year I met Robert LeBel really was the best and the worst of my life.

At ten hundred hours on the morning of Thursday March 8th, Doc Carson sat before Rudolf Eklow, vice president of both the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the Swedish ice hockey association. Quite some time had elapsed since he had been introduced to the fellow Polgarnsky of Austria, and Jack Roxborough of Canada. Day 1 of the 1962 ice hockey world championships at Colorado Springs had dawned brightly enough, but it had turned positively icy inside the eligibility committee room. On the table were 17 passports, yet only 14 had returned to him, and he was deeply distressed. Canadian assurances were doing little to allay the sense of impending doom creeping over him. In fact, they made his skin crawl. "Everything should be in order," Roxborough was saying, "but there always seemed to be trouble when passports of British-speaking countries were involved."

Russell William Carson had trained in the Manitoba leagues until his early-twenties, finishing it up in Australia in the 1940s. Briefly in Sydney, where he was dubbed "Talkie", his other moniker, for "exhorting his guys to heights with a nasal twang as broad as the Harbour Bridge". Then in Melbourne where he had since lived for over 2 decades. Sydney, Melbourne, it didn't matter. In his day he was considered the best keeper ever seen in Australia. He could jump 3 barrels on ice, coast-to-coast a puck to the back of an opponent's net in full gear, win a Goodall Cup after a quarter-century in the wilderness. Off ice he made short work of the 5 miles a day he travelled picking up orders in the service division of General Motors at Fishermen's Bend. On roller skates. [6]

"Canada is in trouble too because we have no passports, only identity cards," concluded Roxborough, adding to the embarrassment while appearing to diffuse it. Canada was Carson's birthplace, his family were still there. He had seen a lot of hockey but not a lot of the kind of red tape it took to ban all of Team Canada from the World's. Only 2 years since his appointment to secretary-treasurer of the Australian ice hockey Federation, and this was his second stint as national team manager. There had only ever been two in a quarter-century with the IIHF, and he had taken charge of both. The graveyard of prior attempts, the karma of unfortunate events, was a slap in the face long before this. Few back home understood the work involved with a touring contingent of twenty — before, during or after a tournament. He would not go gentle into the good night.

Immigrants in the 1960s were eligible for Australian citizenship after one year's residency. Canadian-born Roddy Bruce was eligible having lived here for seventeen years, married to an Australian with 3 children. Canadian Gary Owen was eligible having arrived in June 1960 on a British passport and, over a year later, having applied for citizenship. Canadian Gary Beyko was ineligible. An Ontario junior team captain in 1959, he had lived here only 9 months. [5] Yet, all three missed the first game against Netherlands that day, all deemed ineligible by the committee, at least until the IIHF Congress met next day.

In front of Congress, Carson and his assistant Syd Tange could only plead ignorance of the changes to Article 31, the relevant IIHF bylaw. Their laxness was no defense and Robert LeBel, president of the IIHF and the Canadian association, ruled the players ineligible to play for Australia. Carson had a counter-proposal; they would be eligible to compete, and Australia would be ineligible to win. Everyone smiled at the delightful compromise except, that is, the French and Danish delegates competing against Australia. They ruled it out, resisting even Bunny Aherne's legendary persuasiveness in attempting to at least secure their approval to goaltender Roddy Bruce's passport. Peter Cavanagh was now Australia's only keeper.

It was a "severe blow" this last-minute loss of three star players. Australia was almost down to two lines when Barry Bourke was injured for all but one game and British-born Peter Parrott was injured for some. Tange and Carson later gushed praise for the IIHF Congress, apportioning blame for the debacle on both their own association and the one man who had advised them from the very beginning — Bunny Ahearne, secretary of the British association and the IIHF European president, who had helped manage the Brits to that amazing gold medal at the 1936 Winter Olympics.

"We could have won with the team originally as selected," Tange later lamented. "Beyko and Owen were the equal if not better than any player in Division B". Unfortunately, no-one among them knew the current rules. Beyko and Owen remained in Canada after the Championship for good, [4] while Carson back home in Australia continued to write, "I must pay umbrage at this juncture to Rod Bruce, Gary Beyko and Gary Owen. Imagine how their teammates felt, if you can, well you know how they felt ... they bucked in and helped... Thanks boys, you deserve a pat on the back for your actions and attitudes." [1] And this was just the latest installment in the series of stranger-than-fiction events that plagued and plagued Australia's 1962 campaign.

The first meeting of players and officials was held one evening in the spring of 1961 at Gundagai, roughly half way between Melbourne and Sydney. A month earlier Carson had announced insufficient fundraising by the states made it necessary for the team to share some of the cost. No-one yet knew how much, but three 1960 Olympians were among the first of the leading players to drop-out. Carson remembered only two things about Gundagai. The first was the enthusiasm of the gathering for its own fundraising plan compared to the depressing end result. The second was Ken Wellman, the team captain, passing over a major first prize for £500 cash which he then donated to the fund. Its present value is $12,500 and it paid for the rest of the uniforms. At the next meeting in Albury, players were told they would definitely have to contribute, and in November they were told how much; £260 pound each, about $6,750 in today's money. More dropped out, replaced by others who could afford to go. Russ Jones stepped into defense.

Australia's first Winter Olympian, Ken Kennedy, was the appointed head coach. Forty-two training sessions for Victorians were accommodated at the St Moritz rink by Molony and Gordon without charge, yet attendance by some players was slack. Players in Sydney apparently did better even though they each had to pay $5 a session. A combined training camp in Melbourne over the Christmas break was abandoned due to the player's financial difficulties. Every penny had to count, but Carson considered the fitness of "the 1962 edition of the Australian team inferior to that of the 1960 team". [1] As it turned out, players experienced ongoing difficulties acclimatising to the altitude, having arrived only 2 days before the tournament.

The next major setback came from the least expected place. Kennedy warned he could have trouble going overseas due to private reasons and asked Carson to assume coaching responsibility in Victoria. He finally withdrew on February 24th, less than a fortnight before the first world championship game in Colorado. Australia had passed over the previous World's in Europe, as if it had somehow suited them to meet in the USA for the second time in 3 years. But not the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. They boycotted the tournament because the USA refused East Germany entry visas. They were building the Berlin Wall. Russia, Romania, East Germany, Czechoslavakia and Yugoslavia withdrew their teams at the last moment. Italy and Poland did not participate. And there you have it. The draw was rearranged and the coach-less two lines named Australia was allotted to B-Pool with Japan, Austria, France, Holland and Denmark.

Suppose that you and I were sitting on a quiet deck overlooking a beach, chatting and sipping at our glasses of cold beer while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, "That afternoon when we played so-and-so... was the red letter day of our life, and also the ruin of our greatest opportunity." I expect you might put down your beer and say "Well, Syd, which was it? Was it the best or the worst? Because it can't possibly have been both, mate!"

On March 8th 1962 Australia was defeated by Holland 6-4; on the 10th by Japan 13-2; on the 12th by Austria 17-0; and on the 13th by France, 13-1. Then on March 15th 1962 at Denver Coliseum a "patched-up" Team Australia defeated Denmark 2-2, 4-0, 0-0. Described as "a fighting, magnificent performance... from a truly Australian team", [2] there were 30 penalties and 6 of 13 Australian players suffered injuries requiring hospital, masseur or doctor attendance. Sydney Tange called it Australia's "red letter day". [2] It was the first game Australia ever won in international ice hockey.

Images | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 |


We hoped this story would explain why hockey biographies for Beyko and Owen are not here, although they appear on Australia's international roster, and why we do not credit Bud McEachern as coach of the 1962 squad, as some others have elsewhere. But, more than that, we hope this is understood as the simple homage intended. To the extraordinary achievements of the representative players and officials of the early-1960s, and their quest for world competitiveness.

[1] Manager's Report, Australian Ice Hockey Team, World and European Championships, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Signed by Russ W Carson, Australian Ice Hockey Federation.

[2] Report from Assistant Manager, World Championships 1962, Australian Ice Hockey Team, signed by Sydney Tange.

[3] Report from Captain, World Championships 1962, Australian Ice Hockey Team, signed by Ken Wellman.

[4] The Age Melbourne May 22 1962, Tough Match In Ice Hockey

[5] The Age Melbourne 9 Jun 1961, Canadians Will Boost Ice Hockey

[6] The Argus Melbourne 15 Mar 1940

AUSTRALIA vs DENMARK Denver Coliseum — March 15 1962 3:30 pm

Peter Cavanagh GK Hans Andreasen
Russell Jones DEF Nield Petersen
Anthony Martyr DEF Bjarne Mielo
Peter Parrott CE Bjarne Carlsen
Kevin Harris WING Carl Hoybye
John Thomas WING Keld Jacobsen
AUSTRALIA SPARES: John Purcell, Ken Wellman, Rob Dewhurst, Victor Mansted, William Renton, Barry Bourke. Ron Amess was out injured early in this game with suspected hairline fracture of cheekbone.
DENMARK SPARES: Uno Hasselbalch, Niels Grauballe, Michael Gautier, Keld Bjerrum, Torsten Hviid, Ole Hamann, Knud Lebech, Svend Christensen.

AUSTRALIA: Player Summary 1962 World Championship [Pool-B]

18 Peter Cavanagh Pirates 5 51 160 211 75.8 10.2
1 Roddy Bruce (Did Not Play - ineligible) 1930 St George - - - - - -
# PLAYER YOB NAT State Club Pos GP G A Pts PIM
2 Ronald Amess 1927 Hakoah F 4 0 2 2 0
3 John Purcell 1928 Blackhawks F 5 0 1 1 6
4 Kevin Harris Hakoah F 5 2 4 6 12
5 Peter Parrott 1936 Monarchs F 3 2 2 4 2
6 Barry Bourke 1943 D 2 0 1 1 0
7 Ken Wellman (C) 1930 Blackhawks D 5 1 1 2 12
9 Robin Dewhurst (VC) 1933 St George F 5 0 0 0 4
10 William Renton 1929 F 4 0 0 0 7
11 Victor Mansted 1932 St George D 5 1 1 2 10
12 John Thomas 1936 Hakoah F 5 4 1 5 0
13 Edward Mustar 1938 F 4 2 0 2 10
15 Anthony Martyr 1934 Tigers D 5 0 0 0 4
16 Russell Jones (VC) 1926 Demons D 5 1 0 1 0
17 Gary Owen (Did Not Play - ineligible) Monarchs F - - - - -
8 Gary Beyko (Did Not Play - ineligible) F - - - - -
TOTALS 13 13 26 71

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