Well where to begin when so many of the Gold and Blue stalwarts have already provided such heart felt personal summaries and tributes to the team and this growing club?
The lads gave it their all this term and rarely will you see such emotional farewells between a team and its fans realising that this season’s dream is over and for some perhaps a line under their hockey as family and aching bodies and careers make their deserved demands known.
I personally cannot recall so many tears, tightening wavering voices and quivering lips as we all shared last night. Top to bottom we care.
To each player thank you. You have done yourself, the team and fans proud often in the face of short numbers due to injuries and ill-advised bans. It has mainly been a pleasure, with the exception of some of the odours in the locker room and humping around wet hockey kit. Our thanks include the prospects who gratefully snapped up each shift to make their mark.
To the coaching team of Alan and Sean we owe huge thanks in respect of the time, effort and expertise. If it was as easy as us in the stands like to think then we would be in their place and there will never be a rush for such a difficult job. Sean clearly loves this job and his team and whilst I have now learnt who Jackie Moon is, that fictional character only undertakes a fraction of what our real-life coach manages. It has been a pleasure working so closely with you and proving that an older bloke and an older heavier minibus can get away from traffic lights quicker despite a knackered clutch. I am sure our aims for the following seasons cannot fail, given the combination of your talent and my sheer bloody minded (constructive) stubbornness and the rest of the crew.
Our game night team would not be complete without a mention to “Haribo Michelle” tending to the players and water bottles and door and twitter and anything that needs doing with a smile and a joke despite it all. And she is really looking forward to some more Easter eggs to lurk on her hips if any of you have any spare. Michelle’s routine works have recently been supplemented by some more intense works including prodding with needles and beating the living daylights out of injured players. Our thanks to Sam Lack for her expertise with her remedial torturing which helped keep the lads moving.
To the rest of the management team with game day efforts, daily paperwork and promotion all of us owe thanks for the hours of often unseen works. Unseen but not un-noticed and whilst it is occasionally forgotten I am sure we all realise you have a choice and you choose to wander from the stands and get your hands dirty. So to Alan, Dave and Al Gerrie thanks for your work.
They are of course not alone with their “out of hours” efforts as the extended management team including the dynamic duo of Paul Windebank and Jayne Clifford spend hours collating our words and photos to do an amazing job to deliver on time match night magazines and kit and merchandise as close to “on-time” as suppliers allow. Paul’s designs for next seasons shirts are already looking awesome and the ideas coming out of the brain storming sessions including Ben Pitchley will make this team ever more entertaining.
Mel’s shirt sponsorship works are legendary and the back bone of the team’s essential front end funding. How the totals can rise year on year is something of a mystery but she does of course have the substantial backing of a very passionate fan base. Thanks Mel from us all. Of course those thanks are very much extended to all those that invested in own and loan shirts and any other form of sponsorship including our commercial sponsors. Top of that list must go to those with whom we share a name as Everyone Active have to be the most Active sponsor and “partner” anyone could wish for in this sport. Thanks to Tom and Chloe in particular.
Many of our match night volunteers go beyond their exceptional nine to five equivalent and since Mel and her team were let loose from the shackles of previous 50:50 regimes we have seen the result. So thanks to Mel, and Pinky (Graham) Claire, Anthony, Tanya, Emma L A, Sarah P S, and of course new recruits Sue and Dan. Welcome to the volunteers family and welcome to any more that feel able to step up.
The front door staff of Charis and Tracey do a fantastic job under pressure and anything else that is thrown at them with mid week and VIP sales with Tanya again stepping up as required. And of course linking together the 50:50 and the door staff we have the emotional link of our dearly departed Christine whose memory many of us will be celebrating this Friday. RIP sweet lady.
Thanks to those rushing in and out of skate hire to see each puck drop between selling our wares under pressure as Lindsey and Paul and Steph are the regulars with Tanya and others stepping up very ably as our globe trotting duo are the envy of travel freaks in the stands. Great job guys and the sales records broken this year are something to blow your own trumpet about. Extended thanks to Ellie and Angela for dreaming up new ideas and raising huge amounts for the team.
Our “pro’s” live up to their registered tiles with Bill, Glenn, Ray, Matt, Catherine, Keith, Danny keeping the paperwork, the penalty box doors, the goal lights and the clock in order. So very few issues this season guys which is a credit to you. We must of course include Paul Ludlow in this group of thank you’s with his rousing announcements and tunes and pumping up the match night experience with more planned for next season to increase further the match night entertainment. Craig’s (and Dan’s) regular assistance with the game night is also appreciated.
Taking the Raiders tech to new heights is our master of the camera and all that needs to attach to it; so many thanks to Malcolm for giving us the streaming service and the ability to watch our boys when sickness or holiday makes attending impossible.
Only a fool or someone brave would take the risk of attempting to mention all the staff personally and it is certain that over the past few years I have been guilty of both so sincere apologies if a deserving name is not on the list, and expect the odd sneaky edit if I get nudged later.
To the fans long term and ever present, returning and our new recruits, choir members and peripherals, thank you for your support and the cliché that we couldn’t do this without you is never more appropriate. We ask that not only do you not forget us over the long, long summer but you just try to help spread the word and explain to your own media circle exactly how entertaining this team and sport are. Cold calling marketing and advertising are nothing compared with real life recommendations. Amongst those fans are some foolish enough to get more and more involved such as Kevin and Nic behind the lenses. You do know where this can end up don’t you? Thanks both.
Bizarrely, perhaps, we would also like to thank visiting teams and fans. Your words of praise and encouragement for what we have achieved in such a short time has been appreciated with a special relevance as people who know exactly what effort is required and how our on and off ice team do it so well.
With the awards night just around the corner we will be extending our thanks to those that assist with that, not least of which will be our trophy organiser Gavin whose efforts have increased the team’s dusting duties enormously over the years. Thanks Gav.
Lastly, because it is undoubtedly the most important and deserves a lasting mention, is to our wives, husbands, partners, children, grandchildren. For many of us they do not share our passion and have to put up with our absences, dereliction of household duties and distracted focus from what is really important. Them. Xxxx
2019-2020 is another season. Probably the biggest season.
We are on it already.