Panthers Kim looks at how the Nottingham Panthers team from 1946-1960 were reported in the press.

It isn’t unusual these days to find Panthers fans complaining about the lack of interest the club gets from the local press in comparison to the likes of Notts County and Mansfield Town. There is some logic behind this train of thought, after all, the Panthers are able to draw larger crowds than the Stags and similar ones to the Magpies and we’ve been one of the most successful local teams in the past couple of seasons, while they have wallowed in the depths of English football. When I was researching the early history of the Panthers it did cross my mind what the editors of the local newspapers during the original era would have thought to the followers of ice hockey demanding equal coverage to that of the national game.Such was the interest in Nottingham’s new ice hockey team back in November 1946 that the Evening Post didn’t even bother printing a summary of the first game. The Nottingham Guardian, the city’s old morning paper, did a little better. That 3-2 victory over the Wembley Monarchs was deemed of enough importance to carry a few short sentences, tucked away in an obscure corner of the paper, next to other minor stories. Clearly there wasn’t a great deal of belief that ice hockey would develop into an important part of Nottingham’s sporting life and heritage when those first steps were taken. The Panthers’ first season would have done little to convince them otherwise with the new team finishing rock bottom of the English League.

Over the next fourteen years Nottingham would develop a reputation as ‘Hockey Town GB’ and the likes of Chick Zamick and Les Strongman would make a profound impact on the local sporting map. Even the great Tommy Lawton, who’s presence at Meadow Lane was attracting crowds of over 40,000 to every game, could not prevent Zamick from claiming the Nottingham Sportsman of the Year Award on two occasions. And yet, judging by the general apathy shown by the local press, the game and the Panthers were never viewed as more than a minor aside to main attractions of Notts County and Nottingham Forest.

It actually took me several attempts scouring the microfiche at Central Library to find any reference of our last league championship in 1956. Can you imagine that now? Such is the legend and lore surrounding our seemingly eternal quest to win the league title that I fully expect that, should it even happen, winning the thing would make front and back page news in the NEP! A short article briefly describing our final two games of the season, 11-10 (!) and 7-6 wins over the Harringay Racers, and how exactly we’d come to win the title sufficed. That was probably the biggest article I found about ice hockey during the original era in the local news.

As well as proving extremely helpful to the research I was doing, it also opened my eyes to how far exactly the Panthers have come that fans now expect similar coverage to the local football teams. I wonder what the editors of the Post and Guardian back in the 40s and 50s would have made of nearly 7,000 people packing the stands for the Challenge Cup final back in February.

There were a few other snippets I found that were quite interesting. While looking for information regarding the opening of the old barn in April 1939, I stumbled across the match report for a game between the Harringay Greyhounds and Harringay Racers. This was played two days after the Ice Stadium opened and was the first game of ice hockey played in Nottingham. The game, which ended 10-6 in favour of the Greyhounds, was apparently watched by 5,000 spectators. I’m still wondering how they managed to fit that many people into the old rink! Can you imagine what Health & Safety would have made of that today?!




2 Responses to “Original Era Media”

  1. 1 Stuart June 19, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Excellent article Kim, thanks for sharing your research. It’s almost difficult to believe how little media coverage recieved in those days.

    A few more words about that era here:

    Nottingham Panthers: The ‘Golden Era’

  1. 1 Nottingham Panthers: The ‘Golden Era’ « The Tears of a Clown Trackback on June 19, 2008 at 1:11 pm

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