James, Robbie and Luke Ferrara are a hockey family in the most literal of senses. The three brothers have created a legacy in Peterborough which will see their family name be spoken about for generations to come.
It is rare in sport to see two brothers playing alongside one another, but all three of the Ferrara’s have had the unique opportunity of suiting up for the same team, their local team, and representing the team they all love, together.
JF: It is unique, often in sport you tend to remember when siblings play with or against one another because it doesn’t happen very often, particularly when you start talking about elite sport because it is so hard to make it. We have all worked hard for what we wanted to achieve, and I am fortunate and feel privileged to have played alongside both brothers for the years we did. Winning a trophy with both, and the way the team did it as underdogs is still one of the highlights of my career.
RF: Getting the opportunity to play for your hometown team with just one brother is a special and uncommon experience but to be able go on and share the rink with two brothers and win trophies together is extremely rare and one of my proudest achievements in ice hockey. There are not many people that can say they’ve done that in any league worldwide, so truly it’s a moment to savour.
LF: It is really special; it is something I wanted from the moment I started playing. We always played together at home but never had chance to play properly until we were at Phantoms. Winning the playoffs with both of them was probably my proudest and favourite moment of my career.
From a young age, the three brothers were all active and involved in a number of sports, but ice hockey was the one that really brought them together. They all made the decision to put their focus and commitment into hockey and have all gone on to have successful careers so far.
JF: It has always been ice hockey for us. We were always quite active children and are competitive, and we always played and studied sport at school. So, we can play other sports but as we started hockey so young, we have always dedicated our lives to preparing for hockey games and training and focussed on other hobbies in spare time or during the summer.
RF: We all played many sports growing up: football, rugby, field hockey, tennis, badminton, golf; pretty much if it had an object to throw whack or kick, we were in. However, ice hockey was always the one sport we looked forward to most and prioritised above all other sports, whereas we’d play the other sports mostly for fun this is the one we took most serious.
LF: Ice hockey has always been our number one sport. James used to play football, Robert played rugby and I played golf, but it was never a question that we were going to play hockey.
Once Luke had established himself in the Phantoms team, James returned to the club, following a stint in Nottingham. Then, after a short time, Robbie stepped up to the Phantoms 1 side from the Islanders and all three had the chance to share the ice together in Phantoms colours.
It was undoubtedly a successful time in all of their careers, as the Phantoms shook off the underdog tag to win the EPL Playoffs in Coventry in 2015. That season proved to be the last for Luke with the Phantoms, as he made the permanent step up to the Sheffield Steelers the following year. But he stepped up with the memories of winning the biggest trophy available to clubs at Phantoms’ level, with his two brothers.
JF: My first time playing with both Robert and Luke was when I returned from Nottingham aged 21. Luke was a prospect and just starting out with the senior team and that was unique as he is 5 years younger, I had never had the chance to train or play with him before. Robert and I are closer in age so had often played in junior teams together and had trained together for Phantoms prior to me going to Nottingham. Once Luke established himself in the Phantoms roster it was a pleasure to spend the best part of the next two seasons playing alongside both Robert and Luke. Me and Luke found chemistry on the same line for part of this time which I enjoyed. And Robert and I have stuck out many more seasons together and enjoyed more success with the Phantoms whilst we are proud of Luke’s successes in the Elite League and with GB.
RF: My first-time playing seniors with both brothers was after I finished university in Nottingham and came back to Peterborough. I played Islanders for the season and was asked to fill in for injury cover for Phantoms 1, so obviously that was another memory that sticks out.
LF: I signed the year after Robert left and then James came back to play on the team that year. Robert came back not long after and we all got chance to play together. It was amazing for us to do that and like I said before winning the play offs together was easily my favourite moment.
Since Luke’s departure in 2015, he has gone on to play for the Sheffield Steelers and now, Coventry Blaze. He made his debut for Great Britain in the 2017/18 season and has gone from strength to strength during his time in the Elite League.
He has a chance of achieving a career best season, sitting just six points behind the 55 he managed for the Phantoms in 2013/14. He also sits top of the EIHL’s goal scoring charts, with an impressive 30 goals in 43 games.
James and Robbie never had any doubts that Luke would go on to be a success in the Elite League and for the National side.
JF: I always knew Luke had the talent and determination to achieve his dreams and be a success at a higher level. If it hadn’t of worked out it would not have been through trying. He is a genuinely honest guy and has had to work harder than some others for what he has now, but he has listened, learned and I am proud of the player he is now. Obviously, Robert and I taught him well, but he has overcome setbacks to establish himself in the GB programme and in the elite league. We as a family are immensely proud.
RF: Luke has done great so far in the Elite League and is currently enjoying his best year so far. With sport you never know what can happen and what opportunities are waiting around the corner. Luke has always remained focussed on what he wants to achieve and has worked extremely hard to get there, so he fully deserves the success he’s enjoying currently. I think James, Luke and myself each take pride in knowing with all the hours in the gym, on the ice and even now just talking between the three of us we have each played a part in each other’s successes which is a terrific bond to have.
For now, Luke’s mind is firmly focussed on continuing his development and improving on what he’s achieved to date. But he is not ruling out the possibility of returning to his hometown club at the back end of his career.
LF: I would never count it out. Right now, I’m focused on trying to keep developing and reach the highest level possible, but I love my hometown and would love to finish my career there one day.
Hockey is an astronomical part of the lives of the Ferrara brothers, and has undoubtedly had a huge positive impact on their relationships and the bond they share with one another. They all share a love for the game and have given so much to it over the years. The Ferrara name will go down in Peterborough Hockey history – there is no doubt about that.
JF: Hockey is the only thing I really know in terms of a hobby and playing competitive sport. It means the world to have played so many games with great friends, people and of course with family on the team but also ever present in the stands. It is an experience my direct family have also lived and supported us through and has become part of our lives. I have always loved hockey and so having had family directly involved has always been special.
RF: Behind my family, hockey has always been the next important thing. Hockey provides a unique challenge that you need to give everything mentally, physically and emotionally to come out successful. There can be many frustrating occasions over a season where games don’t quite go your way or plays don’t come off but that is all forgotten on the few occasions where it does and you go on to win something you’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort to achieve. Being able to share the team with my brothers means we can talk through the situations and help each other through when needed and the occasions where you are successful are just that little bit sweeter. It really is something special when 15-20 individuals can come together and play as one unit.
LF: There’s only one thing more important to me than hockey and that’s family. So, the fact I got chance to combine the two is special and has made me enjoy and the live the game way more than I ever thought I would have.
And it is clear to see that their bond is a special one. To a cynic, hockey is just a few guys chasing a puck around. But, to the fans of the sport, it is and always will be far more than that. When you consider the family element, how players come together to achieve something special with the support of the fans, how fans of different clubs come together during the tough times, hockey is about far more than just chasing the puck around. And it’s those aspects that make the sport so special to us all.
James, Robbie and Luke love the game, like we all do, and spoke extremely fondly of their experiences of playing the game they love, as teammates.
JF: I am lucky and privileged that I have played so many games alongside family and so has shaped my experiences throughout my career. I am fortunate to have great family at the rink, at home and supporting us so that has helped my career so special but wanting to spend more time with them is part of my reason for finishing my career at the end of this season. I will have to look forward to watching hockey alongside my family instead. I also look forward to seeing Luke in action more often.
RF: My brothers and I have each chosen to play hockey because we individually love the sport, but that has created a special bond which we will keep and cherish forever so having the opportunity to play with them has been a massive achievement. I know both James and I have been lucky enough to accumulate a large number of appearances for the Phantoms, but it would be interesting to see the number of games that we have played in together as I’m sure that must total quite high too now.
LF: Playing with my brothers is up there with as being one of the top achievements. The fact that all of us came through the same junior system and had chance to play on the same team at the same level is a huge achievement. Our family especially our Mum sacrificed a lot for all of us to play and we are forever grateful and hopefully us playing on the same team and winning the playoffs together is a nice way of saying thank you.
James, Robbie and Luke really epitomise a hockey family, a family who love the game but also each other. They will always be big members of the Peterborough hockey family.
Our thanks go to James, Robbie and Luke Ferrara for their time and efforts in speaking to us.