Well, it’s been one hell of a fortnight here in Phoenix land.
Lets start off with the bombshell being dropped on the 14th. Not long before the Phoenix were due to take to the ice in Guildford, the club put out a statement from Neil Morris, announcing his intention to step away from the club after 14 years. Now, I’ve known Neil all that time, and never once have I known him to quit on anything. So from my perspective (and having spoken to him that week, I had no idea he was contemplating quitting) it was a hell of a bolt from the blue.
Naturally, being the Phoenix, there had to be some controversy. Some of the fine folks out there in internet land decided to pick up on one badly chosen word, and fixate on just one of it’s meanings. And then there were those who seemed to revel in the fact that the Phoenix were staring down the proverbial barrel. It has long been a facet of humanity that there are those who take pleasure in others misery, and this proved once more to be exactly the case.
To flip this around though, the messages of support and offers of assistance vastly outnumbered those who chose to enjoy our pain.
That having been said, the game at Widnes on the Sunday was a somewhat interesting affair. At times celebratory and sombre, it felt like the end of the line. With both Tony Hand and Neil Morris addressing the crowd after the game (sorry we couldn’t get that on the webcast, but the cameras were not set up in the right locations to capture it), and the players staying on the ice, taking photos, there was an air of finality about proceedings.
Of course, this being the Phoenix, it wasn’t that simple. During the week it became clear that Tony was going to ice a team on the Saturday in Swindon, and bolstered by 5 bodies from the Bristol Pitbulls, that is exactly what happened. As this was being prepared, a supporters club member set up a JustGiving page to help with the costs. A modest target of £1000 was set. It was smashed. At the time of writing I believe it sits at just under £5000, and is a tribute to the generosity and comradeship of the British hockey fraternity. Added to this, the Swindon supporters club raised another £1000 by having a collection. Truly we are humbled by this level of support.
And now we come to the present. We are playing all 3 scheduled games this weekend. And we should know by Tuesday if we still have a club or not. Whatever the outcome, it has been one hell of a ride this past 14 years. From protesting outside the Arena when the Storm died, to hosting webcasts, I’ve been blessed to be involved with this club. Sure, there have been bad times (such as the abusive nature of some so called fans towards myself this past 2 years) but these have been far outweighed by the good. So, if it is all to be over this week, thank you all. It’s been a hell of a time.