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My older sister lives in Sheffield and whenever we visit her there two things that are always on her “must do” agenda. The first, a shopping visit to MeadowsHall and the second, attend an ice hockey match between her favourite team, The Sheffield Steelers and who so ever they happen to be playing.
Sheffield’s Ice Hockey Team, The Steelers, was first formed in September 1991 and my sister has been a fan from the outset. She religiously attends all games both home and away traveling as far as Finland and The Netherlands to offer support. I am nowhere near as devoted to the team as she is but I have to admit to enjoying the atmosphere and the action.
Out of all the sporting events I have ever attended, a Steeler’s ice hockey match is the most stage-managed, dramatic and entertaining. And all this before the ice hockey even starts. As the Steelers enter the rink, each player is announced individually and the supporters explode into a cheering, horn-blowing, arm waving throng. Somewhat intimidating for the opposition!!! The clamor continues through the game as the announcer shouts for the crowd to “make some noise” for the teams and snippets of tunes are played to accompany any goals or penalties. The supporters respond enthusiastically with actions to go with each chant. The whole effect is one of a joyous co-ordinated support enjoyed by all the family from 2 to 92.
The Home of the Sheffield Steelers is the Sheffield Arena which capable of seating some 9,000 spectators. Although over the years, I have seen the arena filled almost to capacity for a match, current average attendance is about 4,500.
There is ample parking around the arena with attendants marshalling drivers into available spaces. There is a fee for parking, last year it was £3 a match.
Entering into the area, stalls selling club merchandise (including shirts, badges, tee-shirts, caps, pucks) line the lobbies. Programmers are also available on sale (written by my sister) priced about £1.50 giving details of the match, the players and various other articles of interest.
The Steelers play in white, orange and teal shirts marked with the Team logo (An ice hockey player over a steel cog and the name Steelers running in front) emblazoned on the front. Many of the spectators wear replica shirts with the numbers of their favourite player on the back. (Replica shirts cost £40 each – more if numbered and /or signed). As with many sports a very expensive must for fans.
The Steelers currently play in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) which is made up of eight teams, Belfast, Basingstoke, Cardiff, Manchester, Nottingham, London and of course Sheffield. The EIHL is the highest professional league in the country.
Over the years, The Steelers have amassed quite a reputation. Coached by Alex Dampier and Clyde Tuyl, they have won a total of 16 trophies including the British Premier League, British Playoff Championships, and the Benson & Hedges Cup. This season a new coach takes over the reins, Rob Stewart. Time will tell of the results of his guidership.
The Steelers are currently owned by South Yorkshire Ice Hockey Franchise Limited and are directed by Mike Blaisdell. This season’s line-up consists of Jayme Platt (net minder), Defense: Dwight Parrish, Daryl Andrews, Gerad Adams, Ron Shudra and Dion Darling, Forwards: Paul Sample, Ryan Lake, Marc Lefebrvre, Mike peron, Erik Anderson and Brent Bobyck. Most of the players are Canadian or American, I don’t know of any that are actually from Sheffield.
A game of ice hockey is good entertainment. It is fast and furious action. The puck travels at frightening speed from one end of the rink to the other banging on the plastic protective shield separating the supporters from the game.
Tickets prices vary according to seats ranging from £6.50 to £13. However, cost of watching the match is increased by the exorbitant cost of refreshments available in the two intervals, the programme and any souvenirs. If however you do attend, the feeling of comradeship, good humour and a common enjoyment of families and individuals integrated into a spirit of good humored competition is one not to be missed.
Rob Stewart ----------> Eh... I knew Rod was a former football player, would he be in that business too ? When I was at the college, I was used to play on some circumstances... but outdoor only (field hockey). Julien