BORN AUGUST 28TH 1967 IN MELBOURNE, the son of legendary national team player and state coach Ian Holmes, he began hockey as a junior netminder for the Demons in the Victorian league. He moved to the Melbourne Jets where he and his father won the state premiership in 1995, but his biggest contribution to the sport was not to be made between the pipes.
He formed a long association with the state Development Council and followed in his father's footsteps as coach of the state Tange team (U18). His father helped establish a dynasty for that title in the late 1970s, his State winning every championship except five from its inception in 1969 until 1987. After Victoria's winless decade, he became Tange coach in the late-1990s for an unbroken period of about 14 years. Working autonomously from early in the season, he trained, mentored and motivated successive squads to about a dozen titles (1998 to 2000, 2002 to '05, 2007 to '11). In 2006 he was the national association's Coach of the Year.
A certain mystique surrounded these Tange teams and their rituals, a reverence for the Big-V on the navy blue jersey different to the rest. Inspirational for young players approaching seniors, it usually proved bulletproof year after year, no matter what opponents threw at them, including Nathan Walker. These were teams fueled by a will to win, almost a right to win, handed down like a bloodline, a fierce "protect this house" mentality, somehow greater than the sum of their parts. They once prompted one frustrated state and national coach to remark, "if we knew what it was we would bottle it".
Like his father before him, he was Head Coach of the Demons seniors between 2007 and 2009, sharing a premiership with the Melbourne Jets during the difficult years of their temporary merger, when Victorian ice hockey was in crisis, when the state association was forced to downsize to five teams due to a shortage of rinks. Also during those years and for the same reasons, he was involved with the equally difficult reorganization and coaching of the state junior leagues to house leagues while performing the duties of Player Development Director for the national association.
The year after the Australian Juniors biggest ever defeat — 21-1 against Yugoslavia in Denmark — he was appointed Head Coach of the National Junior Team (U20) for the 2008 Division 3 Worlds in Belgrade Serbia. He led them to fourth, 3 wins and 3 losses, producing the squad's biggest win in its 25-year history — a 16-0 shutout over a hapless Bulgaria. At the 2010 Division 3 Worlds in Instanbul Turkey in 2010, he coached the Juniors to Gold and a return to Division 2 where they have competed ever since.
"While I can take credit for my part in the success of these teams," says Holmes "I also believe it's a reflection on the fantastic support I had during that period. I am sure that without the VIHDC Elgin Luke started and ran for 30 years, the fantastic work coaches who continued his work, and the coaches I coached with, the challenge would have been far greater. My tribute is to these coaches and the players who put up with me".
Many of the top Victorian players in today's Australian Ice Hockey League were beneficiaries at one time or another of the junior development system to which he contributed and the state and national teams which he tirelessly coached. "There's a lot of young men who wound up playing for him at Tange that were considered bad eggs going in," said Dreux Karlsson in 2017, "but the way he believed in people always brought out their best. The on-ice success of Tange is nothing compared to the legacy of the young men he crafted."
He completed a Bachelor of Business at Deakin University in 1989 and became an accountant. Today he is a Market Analyst with Horizon Global. In 2017, he was elected a Life Member of his state association for services to his Club and to the sport of Ice Hockey in Victoria over an extended period of time, both on and off the ice.
Holmes' father Ian is among the Victorians in this highlight reel from the 1969 Goodall Cup decider at Prince Alfred Park rink in Sydney between NSW and Victoria on August 4th. Teammates include John Thomas, Jimmie Christie, Rod Joslin, A Spence and P McEwan. NSW had won the first match of the series, 10-4, and Victoria the second, 5-3. NSW won the decider, 6-2, to win back the Cup which Victoria had held since 1965. The Vics goals were scored by John Thomas and Ian Holmes (included in footage, watch and listen carefully). For NSW, Jack Bend (2), Rudi Strubb (2), and Kerry Ylonen. It was their 24th triumph compared to Victoria's 17 Cups, excluding the two ties in 1932 and 1946.
Among the New South Welshmen were captain Jack Bend, winner of the John Nicholas Trophy (Goodall MVP); goalie Roddy Bruce who represented Australia in 1961-62 when Australia won its first ever international ice hockey game; Jim Lynch, the Australian Speed Skating Champion; and John Bradbury, father of future four-time Olympian speed skater, Stephen, the first Australian to win a Winter Olympic gold medal. Over half the squad was born overseas including five Canadians, two Czechs and two Finns. They were coached by Vic Mansted who had also represented Australia in 1961-62. Footage courtesy British Movietone.
Ross Carpenter, 'Holmes, Simon (1967 - )', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia, http://icelegendsaustralia.com/legends-2/bio_holmes-s.html, accessed online .