Campbell: UK was so good I stayed

(PHOTO: Arthur Foster)

Derek Campbell is a player that perhaps will be remembered for the wrong reasons after receiving a huge 47-game ban for his part in an altercation with Dundee Stars’ Nico Sacchetti in 2013.

It ultimately ended his career, but it’s perhaps forgotten that he’s managed the distinction of being one of the few players to have won two Elite League titles in consecutive years with two different clubs.

We’ll look at what happened in that night in Hull back in 2013 that proved to be his last outing in professional ice hockey in the second part of this two-part feature interview.

But first, Campbell spoke of how he came to the UK and how his career went from there.


Derek Campbell recalls having a laugh to himself when he first came to these shores in 2006 to sign for Manchester Phoenix

His view of life in Britain from where he came from in Nepean, Ontario in Canada was that of people smoking and reading their newspapers and that was exactly the sight that greeted him as he began a new adventure in his career.

But, in a path that took him to Newcastle, Coventry, Hull and Sheffield (for Steelers and Steeldogs) via Sydney, Campbell remains proud of how much he enjoyed his adventure in this country in the Elite League and English Premier League.

WATCH: Derek Campbell gets to grips with Kevin Bergin

“My first impressions were it was everything I had imagined,” he said.  “When I first came, I was always under the impression it being in a culture of smoking and people reading newspapers and I remember laughing when I arrived at the airport.

“The first I saw was people doing just that, of course, this was before the smoking ban came in.

“Manchester were an expansion team when I played which was new with the new rink.  But playing with Tony Hand was amazing and he’s definitely the best player I played with.

“The thing that attracted me to the UK when I first came over was the schools package I was offered and I knew England was a good gateway to the other leagues so it turned out I enjoyed the UK so much, I ended up staying and the rest is history.”

Campbell’s year at Phoenix was followed by two at Newcastle Vipers, playing under Rob Wilson and where he met and played with his good friend, David Longstaff.

In fact, he’s still based in Newcastle with his girlfriend and daughter and now runs four restaurants and a cocktail bar since hanging up the skates.

But in 2010, he became a league winner after joining Coventry Blaze, their fourth in the Elite League era under Paul Thompson, but at this point, Campbell felt it was time for a change, making the move to Australia to do something different.

While it was certainly that, the competitiveness was something he found hard to adjust to so when a phone call came in from England, it led to another medal.

Derek Campbell won the league with two different teams in consecutive years, with Coventry Blaze in 2010 then Sheffield Steelers a year later (PHOTO: Mark Tredgold)

He added: “Paul Thompson was the coach (at Coventry) where everything was top notch and the winning attitude really rubbed off.  We trained hard but had a lot of fun off the ice.  It was a really good feeling and a great team to play for.

“Moving to Sydney was something I wanted to do.  We have just won in Coventry and I felt I had achieved what I wanted to and I had no aspirations to return to North America so I thought a career change would be suitable.

“I went out there and had a great time, playing with some good guys and helped the team out.  There was a point where it just wasn’t for me. It was so far away, of course, but I felt that so near the middle of the summer out there, Sheffield called to say they wanted to sign me.

“They were probably the biggest club in the UK at the time and it made me consider playing in the UK and when I heard the team they were putting together, it was the right move for me.

“To come back the following year and play in Sheffield, they were a really talented team.  We were a team that found a way to win.  I was never the fighter or to go to guy for that kind of situation.  I protected when I needed to.

“I was really happy and honoured to be in a position to win two championships in a row with two different teams.  Winning the league in the UK is tough to do and playing with Coventry first off, I was playing for an organisation that was the best I’d played with.”

Check out part two tomorrow when Campbell talks about that infamous game against Dundee and his reflections on the incident that changed his life.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.