Legendary ice hockey player

Bobby Lee
From the private collection of Trevor Chepstow

Bobby Lee was Brighton’s greatest sportsman of the post war era. He breathed life into one of Britain’s most successful ice hockey teams and became a legend in his own lifetime.

Born in Montreal
Born in Montreal, Bobby played hockey on the frozen rivers almost as soon as he could walk. His early career began as a left winger in the “Montreal Royals” in junior hockey and finally graduating to the senior team of “La Fontaine”.

Signed to play in England in 1936
In 1936 the coach of the “Brighton Tigers”, Don Penniston, approached Bobby, who was then in his early twenties, and signed him up to play in England. After one season with the “Tigers” Bobby was talent spotted and went on to play for Earls Court for the next two seasons.

Married in October 1939
It was during those early days in England that he met his wife to be (Billie) and he was married in the October of 1939. With the outbreak of the war they both went to Canada where Bobby joined the RCAF.

Took Brighton Tigers to victory
When Earls Court failed to open immediately after the war Bobby rejoined the “Tigers” as player-manager and moved to the position of centre-ice. Under his management he took the “Brighton Tigers” on to win all three major tournaments in the 1946-7 season and in the following years won International and World-wide fame for the team!

200 goals in ice hockey
Without doubt, Bobby Lee was the best centre-ice of all the Canadians who sought fame on British rinks. He was the first man in the history of British ice hockey to score 200 goals and in October 1952 the first player to score 400 goals. He played well into his forties in a sport where most men retired at twenty-five!

A real superstar
Bobby gave enjoyment to thousands who flocked to the Sports Stadium and Brighton’s ice hockey public always had a special place in their hearts for this gentleman of ice hockey. If the word “Superstar” applied to anyone, Bobby Lee would have been the first to be crowned with this mantle!

In retirement became ‘mine host’
After retiring in 1954 Bobby became ‘mine host’ at the Mile Oak Inn and later took over the Windmill Inn at Southwick. He died on New Year’s Eve in 1974 after probably one of the most distinguished careers any man could have wished for in the world of ice hockey.

Comments about this page

  • I am the daugther of Bobby and Billie Lee and have been residing in Toronto, Canada most of the time since the early 1970s. I have made a wonderful life here in a great country with my career focus being in the Canadian travel industry and specifically the cruise industry. My brother, Robert Lee (now 65 years old), also lives in Canada with his family and two of his older children are here as well. I have no doubt our father would be pleased that we are both here although in Ontario and not Quebec. My brother was born in Quebec City in 1941 and I was born in Brighton, England in 1952. Our mother, Billie, died in December 1997 of Parkinson’s Disease. It is wonderful to read this about our father and it makes us both very proud. Certainly, growing up in both Mile Oak and Southwick as I did and as the daughter of such a personality and a truly larger than life man, was extremely memorable. I recall going to the last game of the Brighton Tigers and many of the former players, most of whom were Canadians, came on to the ice at the end of the game. I will never forget that the last person on the ice was my dad, Bobby Lee, and how proud of him I felt as I stood alongside my mother and we applauded such a great sportsman. It is sometimes only in later life, how much we realise the importance of the lives our parents lived. Thanks so much for such a great write-up on my father – the inimitable Bobby Lee.

    By Vanessa Lee (15/08/2006)
  • My father (Daniel Adler of Montreal) was a good friend of another legendary Brighton Tiger, Bill Booth. My father always took pride in describing these players as fierce competitors yet great sportsman. Often we would attend NHL games together and my dad would say, “Booth would make these guys look sick.” I’m pleased I located this site which applaudes the accomplishments of true hockey talent.

    By Adam Adler, Los Angeles, CA. (29/10/2006)
  • Great to read the comments about Bobby Lee I was a fervent supporter of the Tigers & later came to know & admire Bobby as a true gentleman of sport. I also played Rugby with his son who was a fine centre,I am delighted he is well & living with his family in Canada,if at anytime he visits England I hope he will get in touch as many of his old teammates still live in the area & we have regular get togethers

    By Jack Hayes (05/05/2008)
  • I was living in Brighton when Bobby Lee was a hockey star. It was between 1947 and 1949. I still remember those days of glory. My house was at Coombe Road and I was 17 years old. I was 77 last 31st August.

    By MANUEL GAGO (10/09/2008)
  • I forgot to say that I am Spanish and I was a student of  English during those years. Perhaps I have forgotten a lot. I am so sorry.

    By MANUEL GAGO (10/09/2008)
  • If World War II had not interfered in Bobby Lee’s career in England, he would surely have amassed at least another 500-600 more points to his impressive total and place him equal or above Chick Zamick’s figures of 1400 plus. Under contract with Earls Court Rangers when hockey resumed in 1946, what a powerhouse that team might have been with him in the line-up. The Tigers’ gain was the Rangers’ loss. But after all these years does it really matter? Bobby Lee was to English hockey as Gordie Howe was to the NHL. Ottawa, Ontario.

    By Phil Nicholson (12/12/2009)
  • I started watching the Tigers soon after the war, when I was about ten. I remember Johnny Oxley (the only Brit in the team), Doug Verity, Lorne Trottier, Verne Gardiner and T Bone Lacroix. And of course Bobby and Gib. As a small boy, at the beginning the only way I could see that a goal had been scored was when the red light went on. My sister Pauline had a friend who swept the ice and got me tickets each week. It was a fantastic period and great sport.

    By Anthony Hollis (30/03/2010)
  • I should add to my earlier comment that the other teams of the time that I remember were the Nottingham Panthers (with Chick Zamick and Les Strongman), the Wembley Lions (with Stubby Mason in goal) and the Wembley Monarchs, the Earls Court Rangers, Streatham, the Harringay Racers and the Harringay Greyhounds.

    By Anthony Hollis (30/03/2010)
  • It was wonderful to be reminded about Bobby. I have three periods of memory, as a young boy watching his performances on the rink, studying with Bobby at Brighton Technical College and later as a legal drinker both at Mile Oak and Southwick when Bobby employed both of my parents, Bill Martin as the pianist and Edie Martin as the jovial barmaid, who will be remembered by Robert and Vanessa, even if they won’t remember me.

    By Phil Martin (20/05/2010)
  • My father was Billy Fisher, he played for the Brighton Tigers in the 1950’s. If anyone has any pictures with my father in them, I sincerely would love to see them. My father passed away 17 years ago. He was born in Keewatin Ontario July 17,1933. Bobby Lee was his coach.

    By Cheryl Fisher Saurette (16/10/2010)
  • I remember growing up with the memories of my dad talking about playing hockey for the Brighten Tigers with Bobby Lee. He has a magazine cover of Bobby and him playing hockey. Unfortunately my grandfather died suddenly at age 49 and my dad had to move back to Nova Scotia to take care of his family. He never got over the loss of losing his dream. He is 80 years old and is healthly and still an athlete. He hasn’t played hockey in years but even now at 80 years old is a great golfer. He is admired by all that know him. (including me his daughter)

    By Pam Murray (11/12/2010)
  • So pleased to find Vanessa Lee’s text about her charismatic dad, who I met often and rewardingly, as a very close friend of Bobby Junior. In fact it is Bobby Junior that I’m trying to reach. I hope this finds him and that he will respond after all these years.

    By Michael Phillips (14/12/2010)
  • My sister met her husband whilst watching the Brighton Tigers in 1961 and celebrates 50 years of wedded bliss this April. If anyone has any photos of those days I would gladly purchase them or pay for a copy. Can anyone help please?

    By Roz (11/02/2011)
  • I have just read some of the comments posted about the Brighton Tigers and my father Bobby Lee. I note that Mike Phillips is trying to reach my brother so if he wants to send me an email at vlee@cruisestrategies.com I can connect them. I recall Mike well from the 1960’s and 70’s.  And reading all these comments about the Tigers is wonderful.

    By Vanessa Lee (08/03/2011)
  • For Cheryl Fisher Saurette. I remember Billy Fisher when he came to play for Brighton Tigers in the 1951/2 season at the age of 18. I have some pictures of him from the “Ice Hockey World” of that time. They are a bit faded, but I can send you copies.

    By John Collard (03/11/2011)
  • For Cheryl Fisher Sauratte. I remember you father Billy Fisher very well, he played for Brighton Tigers in the 1951/52 season. I have some photos and articles about him. Please contact me and I will send you them.

    By John Collard (21/02/2012)
  • Hi John, sorry I didn’t see the post. My brother Bill Jr just looked and let me know you had responded. I would love to have the pictures. How do I contact you?

    By Cheryl Fisher Saurette (13/08/2012)
  • Hi Cheryl Re Billy Fisher, you can contact me email – john@johnelsa.co.uk . Look forward to hearing from you

    By J Collard (14/10/2012)
  • Hi Cheryl Fisher Saurette, I have photographs of your Dad when he played for Brighton Tigers 1951/52 season. If you contact me on my e-mail address – jonnydd@ntlworld.com – I will give more details.

    By John Denyer (21/10/2012)
  • I met Bobby Lee as a child and he gave me a broken hockey stick. A great thrill in those days. Imagine that many years later I would play for the Tigers. I played every week under Johnny Carlyle and Red Imrie as 12th man. Any questions I will be pleased to answer.

    By Mick Read (24/10/2013)
  • On my previous message I should have said this was on Tigers’ practice nights.

    By Mick Read (25/10/2013)
  • It’s been a real nostalgia-stirrer to read of all the love that’s still out there for the Tigers. They gave us colour and excitement in a grey post-WW2 world. Bobby Lee embodied that fan appeal. Sheer artistry on skates. Only Chick Zamick came anywhere near him in Britain. It was a real privilege to have seen Bobby. What memories he left…      

    By Martin Leach (14/01/2016)
  • Bobby Lee was the greatest of them all and will never be forgotten.
    Very fond memories of watching the Brighton Tigers and skating on the ice after matches.
    Moiya Hillman

    By Moiya Hillman (12/08/2020)
  • I lived opposite the Mile Oak Inn and used to go and play with Vanessa after school. The Windmill in Southwick was replaced with flats in 2010.

    By Janet McCarthy (01/10/2020)
  • My name is Cindy Miller ( Cynthia Burton that was)
    It was so good to see that Vanessa Lee , whom I played with as a girl in Mile Oak has settled in her Father’s
    native Country ,also to hear that Robert is settled there.
    I would love to hear from either of you .
    I now live in Lancashire run my own very successful business have 3 children and two grand children.

    By Cindy miller (14/02/2021)

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