Left to right, Brown, his father Buster Brown, and Doc Murphy. Sydeny, 1931.

Jim Brown, 1931. Full photo, left to right, Brown, his father Buster Brown, and Doc Murphy.


March 31st 1908
Falkirk, Scotland

Sydney, Australia

NSWIHA Eastern Suburbs IHC, NSWIHA St George, ENL Grosvenor House Canadiens

Goodall Cups
1927-31, 1933-35, 1937-39

Life Memberships

Represented Britain against Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland at Davos, Switzerland.

JIMMY BROWN WAS BORN March 31st, 1908, at Falkirk, in the Scottish midlands [29] to parents Jessie Naesmith and Francis Cowan "Buster" Brown (1872–1936). [27] His father, Frank, was born in Glasgow city to parents John Thomas Brown and Charlotte Augusta Cowan who had married on June 29th, 1863 at Milton, Glasgow. [28] Jimmy emigrated to Australia with his family when he was about 8 years-old. Frank became an executive of Metter's Ltd, which Frederick Metters had established in Sydney in 1902. Frank was also the donor of the first of three Australian ice hockey trophies bearing his family name (notes below). Jimmy's mother, Jessie, and brother John Thomas Brown (bef 1907–1953), were both keen skaters. John, the elder, was a figure skater of note, New South Wales ice dancing champion, National dance champion in 1939 with N Conner representing New South Wales, and later president of the New South Wales and national ice skating associations (now Ice Skating Australia).

Brown joined the NSW Eastern Suburbs IHC at age twelve, home club of Jim Kendall by whom he was coached, and graduated to A-grade hockey two years later. Like Kendall, Brown was a defenseman. He was a foundation member of the St George IHC in 1928, eventually becoming captain. St George was one of the most successful New South Wales clubs in Australian hockey history (images below), winning the State Premiership seven times during its first decade. St George also played the highly controversial match against the pro Canadian Bears at Sydney Ice Palais in 1938. The aftermath of this game and subsequent press coverage led to a break-away group being formed by the Ice Palais management, posing the first threat to Australian controlling bodies (see Tom Coulter). In 1949, St George presented the New South Wales ice hockey association with the Les 'Snowy' Reid Memorial Trophy for interteam speed skating, when Brown was still a manager and coach (see Leslie Reid).

Although some official records say Brown commenced Interstate competition from the mid-1930s, he played his first Goodall Cup series on record in 1927 at the age of 21, and became a regular member of Interstate ice hockey teams representing New South Wales until 1946. He won the New South Wales speed skating championships on many occasions. He was five times Australian quarter- and half-mile champion, and on his way to establishing new speed records. He visited Great Britain in 1930 where he won the British quarter- and half-mile speed skating championships and represented Britain in the international games at Davos, Switzerland (probably the 1929 European Championships). The Argus newspaper in Melbourne reported:

"... British Champion's Return. The ice-skating one-mile championship of Great Britain was won recently by James Brown of Sydney, who covered the distance in 3min 26 1-5sec. Subsequently, in a speed test, he broke the British record, skating a mile in 3min 6sec. He is returning to Australia on RMS Orsova and will give an exhibition at the Glaciarium on Monday evening, when he will attempt to break his own ice skating record for one mile". [229] Brown won by one-fifth of a second, as reported by the Canberra Times, "... J Brown, the Australian ice-skating champion, won the mile indoor skating championship of Britain by defeating the holder, W Broomhall, by one-fifth of a second in 3 minutes 26 1-5 seconds." [229]

A Sydney newspaper reported Brown appeared to deterioate after he peaked in 1930. He sprinted 440 yards in 44-1-5 secs in Melbourne that year. In 1932 he was diagnosed with advanced appendicitus that escalated to peritonitus. He had four major operations that "were matters of life or death" and it appeared his skating career was over. Then in August 1935, he dead-heated Pat Jackson skating 440 yards in 47 3-5 secs — 2-5 secs faster than Ken Kennedy had done the previous year — and went on to win the 1935 Australian half-mile championship by 10 yards from Jackson and Ellis Kelly, in 1min 38 1-5 sec. He attributed his comeback to the training and encouragment of Tommy Meagher OBE, a former captain of Bondi Surf Club. [469]

Jim Brown was one of the few skaters of his era to pass the National Ice Skating Association (NISA) Gold Medal Test; the most demanding benchmark of ice skating proficiency at the time. These Bronze, Silver and Gold level tests were first set up in 1880, when the NISA broadened its scope to include figures as well as speed skating. They were developed by H E Vandervell, "The Father of British Skating", and co-author of the 1869 treatise, A System of Figure Skating. Spectators and officials alike were astonished that a skater from a non-skating country possessed such proficiency, and Brown was often referred to as "Flying Jim Brown, the Meteor".

While in England, Brown also played hockey for the newly formed Grosvenor House Canadians (1930–1 season) at London's Park Lane ice rink; one of the few non-Canadians on the team. This was the very beginning of the pro era in Britain and this team was the first British ice hockey team known to be paid. The Canadians were founded a year earlier in 1929 by F L 'Freddie' Summerhayes and played in the English League 1931-4, changing to Wembley Canadians for the 1934-5 season, and its successor Wembley Monarchs in 1936. Their home ice was Park Lane Rink at Mayfair, London, which opened in 1927 in the basement of Grosvenor House Hotel, then at Empire Pool, London from 1934, now known as Wembley Arena. The Canadians were the English League Champions in 1933-4. Brown also played several challenge games for Great Britain, representing England, Scotland and Great Britain against Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland; the only Australian to do so. [427]

Brown returned to Australia in July 1931 and continued with St George in various roles until 1950. He was captain for a record eighth time in 1937 and also head coach. [427] The club even changed their colours to the grey, red and white of Grosvenor House Canadians. [473] There were few in the Victorian ice hockey team who could match Brown's speed. When he returned from England, The Argus newspaper in Melbourne reported, "... [Victorian, Ellis] Kelly, who recently won the quarter and half mile championships, will be a strong opponent for Brown, the New South Wales champion, who has also won titles in England and Switzerland." [229] Brown skated faster than Ellis Kelly and then went on to break his own speed record that same year. This pair were among the first and fastest skaters to emerge from the combined federation of ice hockey and speed skating in 1923, when Australian ice hockey entered its demon decade (see Ted Molony). Yet speed skating had declined in Sydney from the time Leslie Reid died and Harold Hoban was association president. Brown and St George were behind the push in 1937 to reinstate regular speed skating handicaps with Hoban's approval. [473]

In 1936 at Sydney, Jimmy Brown married Gwendoline Myrtle Fraser, daughter of James and Isaline Alma Fraser. [27] From 1938, he was captain of Sydney Glaciarium Ice Hockey team in the inter-rink compettion with the Ice Palais team during the war years. He enlisted in the RAAF at Sydney in 1940, where he served as a Sergeant with the 11th Squadron during World War II at RAAF Base Richmond, north-west of Sydney. [27a] His squadron deployed to Port Moresby in New Guinea where it monitored Japanese shipping movements in the region, flew patrol missions across the South West Pacific area, and carried out offensive mine-laying operations until the end of the war. Brown's brother, John, may have served as a squadron leader in the RAAF during the war.

In 1938, Brown publicly condemned criticism of the standard of British and Australian ice hockey by Ken Tory, a professional player from Canada. "Australian ice hockey can't be compared with the professional leagues in Canada and America", he said "for they have the pick of the best players in the world. But Australia ranks very high in world company in amateur ice hockey. In fact, only 4 or 5 countries would be likely to beat Australia, even as she is at present with no international experience. Canada, USA, Great Britain and Germany would probably be too strong for Australia, but countries such as Sweden, Norway, Poland, France, etc are not above the Australian standards". [470]

Eighty-five years on, all four countries rank higher than Australia and Sweden was the top seed in 2013. A month earlier, Tory had represented New South Wales in the 1938 Goodall Cup with fellow Canadian, George Balork. Hall-of-Famer Hap Holmes had also accompanied the New South Wales squad on that trip to Melbourne, "to gain knowledge of the standard of play, with the object of possibly returning next season with two professional American teams". [471] Holmes was manager of the Cleveland arena at the time, and a few months earlier he had told the press the standard of Australia's ice hockey was very high [470] and it seemed to him Australians would like the game:"I have come here partly on holiday and partly to see whether this game would be popular." [471] Nothing came of it, but New South Wales did manage to hold onto the Cup for two more seasons.

Jim Brown presented the F C Brown Memorial Shield, the second of the three Brown trophies, for the second Interstate series in 1938, in memory of his father. He represented New South Wales in the Goodall Cup until 1946, often as captain, then became a manager and coach with the New South Wales Ice Hockey Association. Although he retired as a player at the age of 39, he continued in the sport as a selector and coach for New South Wales. He was also a keen surfer and former member of the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club, founded in 1907. Brown was the first Australian ice hockey player and speed skater to compete overseas, preceding Ken Kennedy by five years. He was made an Honoured Life Member of Ice Hockey NSW in 1951, and died at age 51 at Sydney in 1959. His wife Gwen died twenty-one years later in 1972, at St Leonards on Sydney's North Shore. [27] In 1964, Harry Curtis, president of the NSW Ice Hockey Association, donated the Jim Brown Shield to perpetuate the memory of an Australian ice hockey and speed skating legend. Today, the Jim Brown Shield is presented annually as the Brown Trophy to winners of the IHA under-20 national ice hockey championship.

01. Historical Notes

[1] There have been three trophies bearing this family's name in the history of Australian ice. The first was presented by Francis Cowan "Buster" Brown in 1932 for interstate relay speed skating between members of the Goodall Cup Interstate ice hockey teams. Each competitor skated two laps. Cast in the USA and very valuable, it became known as Gloria because of its statuesque design. The Trophy was the only perpetual trophy for Speed Skating until 1951 when it was discontinued. Its whereabouts is unknown.

[2] The second, the F C Brown Memorial Shield, was presented by Jim Brown in memory of his father for the second Interstate series in 1938. His father, son of John Thomas Brown and Charlotte Augusta Cowan of Milton, Glasgow, Scotland, died two years earlier in 1936 at Petersham, NSW. [27, 28]This Brown tournament was always referred to as the return Interstate Ice Hockey series, played yearly in either Victoria or NSW — wherever the Goodall Cup tournament was not. It was not a Junior Competition; rather it gave players on the fringe of Goodall selection an opportunity to demonstrate their ability, although Goodall Cup players formed the nucleus of the tournament's teams. Its whereabouts is also unknown.

[3] The third, the Jim Brown Shield, was donated in 1964 for Interstate junior ice hockey by Harry Curtis, president of the NSW Ice Hockey Association. It was intended to perpetuate the memory of an Australian ice hockey and speed skating legend. Curtis was an executive with Lever Bros (now Unilever) and played for Glebe IHC (later known as Glebe Winfield Lions that merged to Canterbury United IHC and became Canterbury Eagles IHC in 1986). He had competed against Jim Brown on many occasions. Today, the Jim Brown Shield is presented as the Brown Trophy to winners of the Australian Under 20 ice hockey championship, but in earlier years it had been presented to the Senior B Australian Championship winner (Reserve Goodall). Prior to that, it was presented to the winners of the 'return' Interstate series — either Victoria or NSW — whichever was not hosting the Goodall tournament, and always in a different month to it.

02. Citation Details

Ross Carpenter, 'BROWN, James Archibald (1908 - 1959)', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia, http://icelegendsaustralia.com/bio-brown.html, accessed online .

03. Select Bibliography

[468] Referee, Sydney, Thu 13 June 1935, p 3. Article: "The Thrills of Ice Hockey, Hot Sport on a Cold Base, Australian International Explains. Jimmy Brown's Record." By Norman Ellison, Sketches by Virgil.

[469] Referee, Sydney, Thu 1 Aug 1935, p 2. Article: "The Amazing Come-back of Jimmie Brown. Great Recovery After Serious Operations." By "Ranger".

[470] Referee, Sydney, Thu 8 Sep 1938. p 23. Article: "Australia's Ranking in Ice Hockey. Controversy Started by Canadian's Criticism." By "Left Defence".

04. Citations
Citations | 1 - 280 | 281-on |
G A L L E R YArrows at right scroll the images
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Jimmy Brown as seen by the Referee newspaper.

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Jim Brown and Melbourne Glaciarium rink manager, Leo Molloy, 1931.

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St George Ice Hockey Club, Sydney, Australia, c. 1928. Captain Jim Brown second from right.

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Jimmy Brown's St George and Western Suburbs, Sydney Glaciarium, 1937.

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Jimmy Brown with Jim McLauchlin, Bill Frazer, Charlie Wells, and Widdy Johnson, 1938

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Left to right, Brown, his father Buster Brown, and Doc Murphy.