The path of the Phoenix faithful is never smooth. This week presented us with the bump in the road that is having to spend between 8 and 12 weeks playing out of the Fylde Coast ice rink in Blackpool. Now, while this is a far from ideal situation, I am at a loss as to what else the Phoenix could do at this time.
“Don’t ice, mothball” is the suggestion for some, and whilst that seems to be the easy option, that dumps 9 other teams in the shit, to be blunt about it. When we committed to the EPIHL for the 2016-17 season, it genuinely looked like we would make the seasons start in Manchester, or at worst be a couple of weeks behind and have to play some “catch up”. Of course, planning is never that simple or easy, and after a number of objections were lodged with MCC (and if what I’ve been informed of is true, then someone is actively trying to make the process as drawn out and difficult as possible), this has become a more significant delay. Of course, there are those who keep insisting that we won’t have a fully functional rink up and running in time for the visit of Milton Keynes on the 13th of November….
Well, of course we bloody well won’t. I don’t think any of us here in Manchester are that naive (much as some would like us to be so they can feel superior for whatever personal reasons drive them). What we will have is a rink that meets the minimum required to allow people in to watch the game. Just like when we began playing at Altrincham. These “experts” need to remember that the rink doesn’t need to be finished, just useable. All the niceties can come later on. As long as it meets the requirements for a safety certificate, it will host the damn game.
Is it a pain? Yes. Is it tiring to keep having things put back, held up, delayed? Yes. Is it a worry? Hell yes it is. But the new rink is coming. A few more weeks really won’t hurt in the grand scheme of things (and believe you me, the pain will most certainly be worth it down the line).
But, I hear the “experts” cry, Neil Morris is just using you all. He is taking your money, and you will get nothing, whilst he laughs himself to sleep!
No. He isn’t. Unlike most of the people who “know” what is going on, and how Neil is conducting himself, I have actually spoken directly to the man himself. If anyone ever doubts just how much the man loves the Phoenix, and how much this whole sorry saga has taken out of him, just speak to the man. The strain is there in his voice. Not the one he uses at public events, or in a group situation, but the one he uses for one on one talks. Not a single decision has been taken lightly, and each one weighs on him. Now, i’m sure there will be those who read this, and will accuse me of kissing Neils arse, or “sucking the sweat off his balls” as one tasteful little sould put it on THF (that paragon of virtue that it is). Well, I’m not. I’m telling you how he has been when talking to me. He has taken a personal and professional beating, but he is so bloody stubborn that he just will not quit, no matter how hard it is. And whatever others may think, I respect him for that. The easy thing to do would have been to just walk away and leave it at that. No Neil, no Phoenix, no rink. But he hasn’t. And neither have I, or many others.
Anyways, back to my original topic: To help ease the burden of travelling to and from Blackpool, the club has done as much as it can. We will have 4.30pm face offs after much negotiating with the other users at Blackpool, something we are eternally grateful for. And the games will be streamed live to a soon to be revealed location near the city centre. Again, this isn’t to everyones preference, but it is an attempt to help those who can’t make the trip. SUrely that is worth some credit?
And for those who have an issue with the “no refunds” term. Well, the cynic in me says “Caveat Emptor”, the nicer side says contact the office and talk to them. You never know, they might be able to help you out. (and incidentally, you will find almost every sports club states no refunds if you are unable to attend for any reason. Its usually there in that pesky small print you ignore on the back of the tickets)
I shall now go don the protective armour for the inevitable attacks this blog will undoubtedly produce. Always the brickbats, never the bouquets…. C’est la vie!