As the 2017/18 season kicks off, it’ll officially be 10 years since I arrived in Belfast from a small place called Fife (some of you may have heard of it). Nine years since I got to know Marty, around eight since Dave finally accepted me into the group and seven since I took Aaron, a guy I’d met a handful of times before through the other two to a Giants game in a private suite I’d won in an online competition, the first of many social media wins related to Hockey since then!
It’s fair to say, I think I’m finally in-there and have established myself with the town, the people and the team!
This is officially though my fifth off-season as a season ticket holder, and they get longer and longer every year. We go through the same rigmarole every time April comes along, saying goodbye to friends and players that we hope we’ll see again in 4 months’ time, but most likely a fair number of them will not be back again, or at least not in the jersey you want them in (so long Matt Nickerson, we’ll always have McCools!).
As I sit back in the coffee shop where only last week the Door14Hockey lads got together to discuss the coming season and plans for our little adventure, I am forced to think about how much of my time and life are consumed by the sport of hockey. It’s lots. Lots and lots! By all admission, it’s totally by choice as well (for which I must apologise to my fiancée Catherine!), but I have to admit that having never been attracted to sport at all in the past and only ever flirting with hockey in Fife and in my short time growing up in Canada for a while, yes that happened, the Belfast Giants have come to mean more to me than I could have ever thought – and enough that the off season is painful.
Now, enough of that – we’ve had schedules announced, and guess what….? I am heartbroken and elated at the same time.
Heartbreak: only a handful of Giants home games before Christmas this year,
- Our team are known as the “Road Warriors”, we won a league on the road before and I’m sure we can do it again!
- I don’t miss ANY home games during my holiday to Canada to see some NHL!
- We don’t just have Giants hockey in Belfast, there’s a doubleheader in August against the Manitoba Bisons AND the third Friendship Four tournament making up for that pre-Christmas dip in games!
- In my few years as a Giants’ season ticket holder, this is my first chance to show that off with a bespoke, gorgeous (I’m guessing here) exclusive jersey!
Tell you what, there’s more elation there than heartbreak.
So am I happy it’s off-season? Of course not!
Am I looking forward to August? Absolutely!
I do want to see more rolled out from the Giants in the coming weeks. So far we have the shell of a team, and a lot of nervvy fans on social media, to which our new coach is well prepared to chirp back to if this recent post is anything to go by:
But, chirping and counter-chirping aside, we have seen the teams around us in the EIHL make some bold moves, and no less so than league newbies Milton Keynes Lightning, who have swanned into the top flight of U.K. hockey and made claim to some big names including (my own) Matt Nickerson and Jonathan Boxill to name but two. The Giants haven’t been asleep at the wheel by any means however, with the recent signing of names like Sébastien Sylvestre and Jonathan Ferland (my top tip to wear either the big ‘C’ or at least an ‘A’ this season in teal), but let’s keep up the momentum and make a statement like the Sheffield Steelers have by announcing their entire roster well over a month away from even the first pre-season games: “here we are, come get us, we are Giants“.