Glasgow Clan’s Matt Haywood admits he was overwhelmed on his Elite League debut back in 2009 as prepares to mark his 500th appearance in all competitions.
Haywood made a handful of appearances for Sheffield Steelers under Dave Matsos before making the move north of the border where his career has been for almost nine years.
And as he looks ahead to Saturday’s milestone game with Dundee Stars, he cast his eye back to when he first iced for Steelers at Hull Stingrays in a 4-1 win back in October 2009.
“My first experience of the EIHL was of being quite overwhelmed to be playing in front of a big crowd and not really knowing what to expect,” he said.
“I know I played with a couple of tough guys on my line so that made me feel a bit better about things.
“I only made a handful of appearances and basically sat on the bench a lot and took it all in, but I even played in a Boxing Day game and tried to learn as much as I could.
“Dave Matsos was the coach that year and I’d been playing with the Sheffield Scimitars and Sheffield Spartans and I’d been training with the Steelers when I wasn’t at school.
“The year I played, they had a good team, but just didn’t do well that as we finished fifth that year and we had guys like Jeff Legue, Joey Talbot and Randy Dagenais. Not to mention Hewy, Jono and Mark Thomas so those guys really helped me.”
Haywood played just five times in Sheffield before going on to make 494 appearances for the Clan so far.
And he spoke of what it feels like to hit the 500 mark, following former team-mate Bari McKenzie, who reached that landmark earlier this week with current club Fife Flyers.
He joked: “Getting to 500, it makes me feel a bit old. Kidding aside, I’m very proud to get there and there are plenty of guys who don’t make it that far so it’s a proud achievement.
“It’s also something of a pat on the back as well that shows I’ve done the right things when it comes to looking after myself. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a nice moment.
“I remember my 400th game probably two seasons ago, but I didn’t know I was this close to 500 until somebody told me. It’s nice it will be at home and we can hopefully mark it with a win.”