By Tom Zillich – Surrey Now-Leader
‘I got to play in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect to have hockey’
From hockey rinks in Surrey to Australia and well beyond, Glen Foll has seen the world playing Canada’s game.
Thailand, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain – Foll stick-handled and shot pucks at arenas in those countries, too, thanks to a decision made by the Surrey-raised defenseman in 1982.
This year, after nearly four decades of playing, coaching and refereeing in Australia, Foll became an honored member of the country’s fledgling Hockey Hall of Fame.
He’s a hockey legend Down Under, having captained the national team a record 15 times in the years from 1988 to 2006.
“I got to play in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect to have hockey,” Foll said this week on the phone from his home in Adelaide, South Australia’s coastal capital.
“I played in 16 world championships, and captained 15 of those 16 teams. I was an assistant captain the first year,” Foll explained.
“I have a lot of good memories,” he added.
Today, at age 56, Foll still plays full-contact hockey with the long-established Adelaide Tigers’ premier team, alongside Ryan, his 23-year-old son.
At North Surrey Arena, which is slated for demolition next year, Foll first began skating at age five.
“My first year of hockey was the first year the rec centre opened,” said the New Westminster-born Foll, who grew up in the Whalley area, near 124th Street and 102nd Avenue.
As the 1970s faded into the early 1980s, a few years of junior hockey followed for Foll, but a pro career in North America didn’t happen for him.
That’s when a recruiter in Australia came calling, and Foll flew off to play pro for the Macquarie Bears, in Sydney.
“Originally I was going to go to Australia for a holiday,” Foll said in a 2003 interview. “I then found out through a friend that there was ice hockey in Australia. I wrote to the ice hockey federation for more information, they sent me an overseas player form which gets sent out to all the clubs.”
He played three seasons in Sydney, followed by a brief return to North America.
Australia called once again, and in the seasons since, Foll has won nine Goodall Cups in the country, six IIHF bronze medals in divisions two or three, and three silver.
“Arriving in Australia at the end of a mostly unrecognized junior career in Canadian minor hockey, Glen Foll came to best represent all that the Australian game should aspire to with an imported marquee champion,” said a recent post on the “Legends of Australian Ice” Facebook page.
In all, Foll played 76 games in a “Mighty Roos” jersey, scoring nearly a point a game, on average – 22 goals and 46 assists, according to a bio posted to icelegendsaustralia.com.
In a country where hockey is far from the favourite sport, Foll has helped build the game since his arrival in Australia.
“I’m still involved in coaching here, and it’s been that way almost since Day 1, in one level or another,” he said.
“Coaching and reffing are two big areas that are lacking down here. The growth of the sport here is dictated by the number of rinks. For example, here in Adelaide we have only one ice rink, and the city’s population is close to 1.3 million, so the sport is at its capacity.”
Foll said his favourite Australian hockey memory was winning a bronze medal at the C Pool world championships in 1992.
“We were not expected to do very well and we beat Hungary 8-1 and Belgium 6-2 that year,” he recalled.
“One of my jerseys is in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, which was also a big thing for me. When the IIHF had its 90th anniversary, each country was asked for a jersey for the new international part of the Hall of Fame, (and) our federation chose mine to go in.”
When not playing hockey with the Tigers or reffing games for Australia’s eight-team national league, Foll runs Pro Look Sports & Apparel.
“I get back to Surrey three or four times a year, for buiness, but very short trips,” Foll said.
“I’m pretty busy here now.”