Gary Newbon Podcast Interview – Episode S5E03
In Series 5 Episode 3 my guest is former Solihull Barons Team owner, Central TV and Sky Sports broadcaster Gary Newbon.
Journalist Gary had made his way into television with Westward TV before moving to Midlands based ATV in the early 1970’s.
Based in Solihull, West Midlands Gary became a sports reporter for the company’s “ATV Today” programme. He covered sport in general but later specialised in Boxing and Football, interviewing many of the top personalities of the time.
By the late 1970’s Gary had been promoted as the new “Controller of Sport” for both the West and East Midlands. ATV was rebranded as Central TV in 1982.
So, how did a high flying, very busy TV executive become the owner of a division two ice hockey team?
The answer, it was all down to a broken washing machine!
Read: The Gary Newbon Blog Post
It was 1982 when a Hotpoint engineer called at Gary’s Solihull home to repair his washing machine. His name was Steve Small, he was also the Solihull Barons club secretary.
Steve, aware that Gary liked Ice Hockey, invited him to take a look at the team. Against his better judgement, he agreed.
I’d always liked ice hockey, I remember watching the Wembley Lions as a kid.
Anyway I thought the team was pretty crappy, they paid to train
and had about 50 spectators, mostly family.
Next minute I’d become chairman and owner!
Gary Newbon – The Miracle Man
The Barons were hovering near the bottom of their division, shipping goals and without any imports.
Gary immediately set about using his contacts to bring in sponsorship, with Poundstretcher and DAF Trucks duly obliging. This helped afford the services of two Canadian imports, Barry Skrudland and Chuck Taylor.
Gary immediately appointed Chuck as player- coach, he later was to become a lifelong friend.
He also used his journalistic skills, known at that time as the Gary Newbon publicity machine, to increase the team’s exposure.
The team was marketed to the maximum which enticed more and more fans into Hobbs Moat Road.
By the start of the 1983 – 84 season, Gary’s hard work had paid off. From almost nothing, the match night attendance had gone to averaging 1500 passionate Barons fans per game.
The rink was rocking.
In his first season in charge, Gary’s business expertise helped the Barons top their Division Two South group. The team then defeated the winners of the Northern group, the Grimsby Buffaloes, in the Championship play off game. In a hard fought game the Barons won 8 – 5, securing promotion to Division one
British League Division One 1983 – 84
Gary had invested heavily, ready for the 1983 – 84 season, so much so that the Barons were favourites for promotion.
The team had a new, major sponsor, Glynwed International and so became the G.I. Solihull Barons. Gary had instilled a professionalism to the team that had been totally absent previously.
The Baron’s player coach, import Chuck Taylor, had identified the team’s biggest problem to be the netminding. So Gary set out to bring in the best English goalie available, Whitley Warriors English international David Graham was his target.
Naturally David Graham couldn’t refuse the opportunity to become the UK’s first professional non import and readily accepted Gary’s offer. Unfortunately this caused a lasting resentment from Graham’s former team, the Whitley Warriors and in particular the North East’s Smith dynasty.
Gary also recruited a third import, Canadian goal scorer Mark Budz, to join Chuck Taylor and Barry Skrudland.
However, promotion was not to be, the team’s indiscipline caught up with them. This was highlighted when import Skrudland was banned for 9 months for an horrific high sticking incident on Peterborough’s Rob Carnegie. The British Ice Hockey Association gave him a 9 month ban.
Given the length of the ban Gary had no option but to sack and send the import home.
The Barons finished their league campaign in third position, just two points behind the Champions, the Southampton Vikings.
British League Division One 1984 – 85
Once again the Barons were favourites to win promotion. Gary had brought in new goalscoring import Dean Vogelgesang to replace Barry Skrudland.
British players Paul O’Higgins and Gordie Paterson had been signed from
the Nottingham Panthers.
The fan base had grown exponentially and everything looked good.
However, once again the team’s indiscipline reared its ugly head. Nothing highlighted the problem more than in the first encounter with bitter rivals Peterborough Pirates. In a game that was ultimately to decide the Championship, the Barons racked up 107 penalty minutes to Peterborough’s 29. Unsurprisingly the Pirates won the game 13 – 6.
By seasons end the Barons had finished as runners up, 4 points behind the Peterborough Pirates. However that’s not quite the end of the story.
Crowtree, when the wheels finally came off!
A game they were pretty confident of winning turned into a nightmare. Underdogs Crowtree, in 3rd place, were 10 points behind the Barons, and on paper it was the Barons for the taking. Unfortunately it didn’t go to plan, they lost the game 6 – 14.
However, once again, the team’s indiscipline reared its ugly head. With just 2.37 left in the game the team walked off the ice and refused to return.
Subsequently the British Ice Hockey Association fined the club £300 and suspended team manager Paul Kane and forward Glen Skidmore. Other players were also suspended and warned about their future conduct
Gary Newbon – enough is enough!
Sadly, as a result of the Crowtree incident, Gary resigned as chairman and at the end of that season walked away. He already had to warn the team several times about their conduct and indiscipline and this was the final straw. He’d decided that enough was enough.
The negative publicity he personally received over the Barons had taken its toll. It was beginning to adversely affect his TV broadcasting career.
His time as an ice hockey team owner was over.
Vic Batchelder, owner and editor of the Ice Hockey News Review expertly summed up Gary’s brief hockey tenure, he wrote:
Like him or loathe him, it’s generally acknowledged in hockey circles that
has achieved something of a minor miracle
in just two seasons with
After over 50 years in broadcasting you’d think Gary would now be taking it easy. Not a chance, Gary continues to make guest appearances on various TV shows and even has his own Daily Mail Sports Show, hosted on Facebook. You’ll find some terrific and exclusive interviews with the biggest names in sport on the home of
The Gary Newbon Sports Show
Read: The Gary Newbon Blog Post
New Ice Hockey Book
There’s a brand new ice hockey book, written by Chris Randall and due to be published later this month.
“ Wightlink Raiders – Simply the best”
is the story of the Isle of Wight’s now sadly disbanded Senior ice hockey team.
The book looks back at all 25 seasons and contains interviews and images of former players, volunteers and team owners.
It’s a must for any island supporter or ice hockey fan in general – I already have mine on order.
You can order yours by emailing Chris at:
You can also listen to Podcast interviews of former Solihull Barons alumni here:
Chuck Taylor Episode S1E29
Mark Budz Episode S3E07
David Simms Part 1 Episode S5E01
David Simms Part 2 Episode S5E02
New Patreon Patron
A big thank to new Patreon Patron Lee Scanlan
Lee joins an exclusive group of guys who help keep this show alive- thank you Lee.
As ever go to my regular Patrons
Paul Blackbourn, Tommy Boll, Oscar Brownsword, Rob Clayton, Colin Dunn, Suzie Hatch, Sean Holland, John Hulme Spry, Jim Murden, Jeff Povey,
Chris Saddington and Andrew Williamson
You really help keep the show alive, thank hanks guys it’s much appreciated.
Patreon – the Info’
You know I really love contacting former players and recording their hockey memories and then editing and producing this Podcast to bring those memories to you.
More importantly I know you love hearing them too.
We all love listening to those often hidden stories from inside the game, the stories that we, as fans, never get to hear.
Above all it really gives me a buzz every time I upload a brand new Podcast, knowing that you’ll remember and reminisce about those memories from your hockey heroes of the past.
However, it’s not cheap bringing this Podcast to you, that’s why I’ve chosen to use Patreon to ask for donations to keep the Podcast going.
You can really help the show by donating say, just £2 per month for the price of a cup of Coffee or the price of a Beer at £6 – you really will be helping to keep the show going.
In addition, my Patrons will receive a reward, right now there are 4 different reward levels to chose from.
Plus I’ll be continually posting to Patreon, Videos and Podcasts that are exclusive to you, my Patrons.
Click on to the video below, I’ve recorded a brief “Welcome to my Page” video – well, that’s from me and the dog – you’ll see what I mean when you checkout it out.
If you’d like more information about Patreon, the video below explains everything:
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