ALL ABOUT RESPECT
I found it curious when I read an article last week explaining that Sheffield Steelers wouldn’t be marking the return of former players if they are in the colours of the opposing team.
Bob Westerdale’s piece in the Sheffield Star explained that it was a change to what Steelers normally do, adding former players who have retired would get the gold star treatment.
And it get me wondering why they would stop doing this, when all it needs is for them to get a quick mention, some applause, a wave back from the player and it’s all done.
Glasgow Clan do it this way and it’s only ever for the player’s first visit back to the club and I’m sure other clubs engage in similar practices to, at the very least, acknowledge an ex-player’s contribution whether good, bad or indifferent.
It’s respect, quite simply, so for Steelers, a club who brand themselves as a “family”, to turn their backs on players who have wore the orange jersey with some degree of pride in the past is surprising to say the least.
To be fair, this is something they’ve done all through this season so far, with other ex-players such as Mark Matheson, Jackson Whistle, Josh Pitt and Mathieu Roy, a man they called “The King” so it isn’t like they’ve been selective on this.
I understand the argument of a case if it’s a player, like those I’ve mentioned, who are wearing different colours and their focus is simply to win the points for their team so why give them any sign of appreciation.
But for the sake of a quick wave and a cheer before the game, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t allow them a quick moment with their once adoring fans.
You’re not expecting a special commemorative jersey, a banner raising and for their former club to let them score a goal as a welcome back. It’s not a testimonial.
A lot of this came on the back of Roy’s return to Sheffield last week, where his current team, Glasgow Clan took a 4-3 win and the Canadian reportedly celebrated with the Purple Army wearing a Burger King cardboard crown.
This caused outrage among the Steelers fans who accused Roy of a lack of respect for the team where he spent four years, winning two league titles and a play-off.
It’s a point I can see, but respect goes both ways and if Steelers aren’t going to allow him a quick nod for his previous contributions to the club, can some fans be so po-faced if he celebrates what turned out to be a big win?
I’m not for a minute saying Sheffield’s decision to not acknowledge him was in any way a factor for the way he celebrated. Far from it, but he of all people would have found it strange that it never happened.
He actually told me in a recent interview he was looking forward to going back. Why wouldn’t he? He enjoyed some great times there, but he also reiterated he was a Clan player now and his focus would be helping to get the points.
A perfectly normal and understandable thing to say, but when the day comes when he and many others played for and won things with a club like Sheffield Steelers, they’ll always hold a special place in their hearts.
Players like to make memories wherever they go and if an old club do give them a chance to hear the fans’ applause once more, even if they wear different colours, then it can mean a lot.
I hope Steelers decide to reconsider this, given the heroes they have had down the years. Bob himself tweeted it was something he didn’t fully agree with and neither do I, but it’s always nice to be part of a ‘family.’
CLAN LEAD THE WAY AS FITZY FINDS HIS FEET
The talk when Pete Russell left Glasgow Clan was whether the momentum he picked up in helping the club to a top half finish could continue.
Under successor Zack Fitzgerald, the signs are good as Clan return from their month-long road trip with five wins from eight on the road.
Victories in Cardiff, Sheffield and two in Nottingham looks impressive on the face of it and many fans were fearing the worst after the first two games when Glasgow struggled against Dundee Stars.
Move forward a month and there’s a confidence in the Clan team that sees them lead the way at the top of the table and looking forward to returning home to see the Purple Army.
The more immediate issue is turning around their Challenge Cup campaign and with only two games left to do this, Fitzgerald must oversee wins over Fife and Belfast and steer them into the last eight.
So far, September has proved to be an encouraging month for the Purple Army and they’ll want to keep that going, starting with Fife Flyers on Saturday.
TIGHT AT THE TOP
If we thought the Elite League was going to be a really close affair, the early signs from the NIHL National League is that it’s going to be the same, perhaps even worse, if the outcome of the weekend is anything to go by.
Hull Pirates lead the way with six points, ahead of Telford Tigers, Sheffield Steeldogs and Swindon Wildcats and already the teams are cutting each other’s throats in the battle to be the early pacesetters in the new league.
The Pirates defeated Sheffield Steeldogs on Saturday in a 7-5 affair that saw their player-coach Jason Hewitt net a hat-trick as they fired shots across the bow of the team they beat to the NIHL North 1 title last season.
If this is the tone it’s setting, it’s going to one to watch with great interest and with so many good teams all lumped together now in the new structure, could be an exciting few months ahead.