The year was 1997. A small but imaginative group of ‘young’ engineering students (and an English student) were lounging around unmotivated by the prospect of study, something new and exciting was urgently required to get them through the week. Almost simultaneously the silence was shattered by the cry of “Lets play ROLLERHOCKEY!!!”, and so it began. Off to Southampton’s Off-Beat Sports shop they trudged, student grant in hand (yes, no need to pay it back in those days), to purchase their Roces skates and cheap bendy outdoor sticks. A training venue was urgently required now they were fully equipped and where better than the Mayflower Park tarmac 5-a-side court fully equipped with its resident gobby teenagers or should I say ‘supporters’. The ball was dropped (the shop had run out of outdoor pucks) and like a pack of blind dogs attacking a dead mouse, watched closely by a rather unstable goalie armed with nothing more than gardening gloves, the first scrimmage commenced.
Rumours quickly spread amongst friends of this fantastic new sport at Uni and that 5-a-side court grew busier by the week. The time had come to name the Club and what better name than after the iconic image of victory designed and built in Southampton, the Spitfire.
The following year the first flight of Spitfires were ready for battle and entered the, then full contact, BRHA Inline league. This was certainly a baptism of fire with brutal hitting in brick wall sports halls but with so many broken bones in the league, once inflicted upon the opposition by one of our more enthusiastic players, the BRHA chose to go non-checking.
For the next five years membership swelled and the talent increased so the decision was made to enter a second league in the 04-05 season at the dedicated Bisley rink with GBInline. By the end of the 2007 season for various reasons it was decided to focus only on GBInline by entering a second team. The Spitfires gradually moved up the rankings and in 2008 gained promotion to Premier division facing off against the countries best senior Inline hockey teams, an impressive achievement for a Uni team which naturally cycles players every three years or so.
2004 turned in to a breakthrough year for the Spitfires by winning the University Inline National Championships in Deeside for the first time with a 9-0 demolition of the opposition in the final at a very well represented twelve Uni tournament and this really put the Club on the map with the Southampton Athletic Union. The Spitfires then took full responsibility for organising this National tournament for the following six years and gained further victory in 2006, 2007, and 2010.
2005 saw an important move for the Club with the decision to enter the University Ice Hockey Association and that same year winning the Division 2 title. It was time to step up to the big league but it wasn’t until 2011 did the Spitfires really make their mark at the National Championships with an emphatic 12-1 victory in the Tier I final scoring more goals than facing shots on goal that weekend. The following two years were disappointing when on paper the Spitfires were a huge force to be reckoned with but faltering at the last. In 2014 the record was well and truly put straight. The tournament standard was higher than ever but with a new level of Uni hockey never seen before being displayed by the Spitfires, all before them were swept aside to return the trophy to its rightful home.
The Ice B-Team made their debut in the University Ice Hockey Association in 2007 but their breakthrough didn’t come until the 2012 season with a fantastic squad of players who not only won the National title without conceding a single goal but also dominating the Cup season only for the title to be snatched away by a highly controversial technicality. 2013 put that memory to rest by taking the Cup home in style.
2013 also saw the Ice C-Team take flight and flourish in the University Ice Hockey Association giving some very promising performances in the Cup competition with the D-Team also making its debut at the Nationals at the end of the season.
Re-entry to the BRHA Inline league in 2013 took place once a new dedicated rink had been created and the A-Team quickly proved themselves as a top three level team promising even greater results in the 14-15 season.
But the Spitfires are not just all about the sport of Hockey but also of romance. Over the years many relationships have blossomed only to rapidly dissolve the next morning but some lingered to lead to marriage and in some cases young Spitfires of the future. With such good breeding, great sporting successes are expected from these young Spitfires.
With so many wonderful memories and experiences for so many people credited to the Spitfires, little did that young group of students know what they had created that day nearly 17 years ago from the first enthusiastic flurry of sticks to the enormously successful Southampton Spitfires Ice & Inline Hockey Club of today.