Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’


SuccessisbuiltFans always expect that their teams perform well – and ideally win every game – and fans have the absolute right to want success. There are expectations that teams and players need to meet, week in and week out. There are the expectations for the entire team from the fans and on an individual level, the expectations from the coaching staff.

 

Success is something that every player wants. For their team and for themselves. Otherwise, why play the game if you don’t want to succeed and not feel the elation of winning a game. Success is something that doesn’t magically happen on a game night. It is a long, drawn-out process throughout countless hours of work, sweat and pain. Success is built when there are no eyes on you. It happens at the gym, it happens on the roads, it happens on the bike. It even happens on the trainers table or with the physiotherapist. Success is built when you are on the ice with your team. It is built in bag skates, flow drills, set plays. It is built by countless and countless of repetitions of weights, drills, shots, jumps and miles pedalled on a bike.

 

Success is not something that is achieved overnight. Players can’t expect to be successful just by turning up to training and have the expectation that their effort on the ice will guarantee them success in the long run. The hockey season is a gruelling ride, with all its bumps and bruises and frustrations. What the fans see, is the culmination of all the work that has been taking place out of sight.

 

Success requires commitment. It requires hard work. It requires sacrifice. It requires discipline. It requires a goal, something that unifies a group of individuals to come together and work for that goal. It means leaving personal differences aside and playing for the logo on the front of your jersey and for the goal of becoming a champion.

 

The commitment fuels motivation and success, that success will player through a rock when it comes to crunch time. But all this underpinned by the work that each player does on and off the ice when the stands are empty and when no one is watching you.

 

The signs of success, are not seen on the ice in a 60 minute game. It is seen in the sweat dripping on to the gym floor and on to the ice.  


Following the post I made about IIHF pulling the plug on the live YouTube broadcasts, I’ve had a couple of interesting tweets about it, one of which was sent by Steve Morrell (https://twitter.com/#!/rafanapa). Steve’s tweet got me thinking about why watching games live as they happen is so important.

 

Right off the bat I must admit that the best way to enjoy a sports event is to watch it where it happens. Obviously with the hockey world champs it is impossible for me to watch it in Helsinki (read the previous posts and you’ll see why). As the games are not broadcast on UK TV, or on any other channel that I receive, the Internet has become such an important medium for me to follow sports from back home. But why is watching it live so important? For me it is all about the passion, the heat of the moment and knowing that I am watching the action as it happens, each stride, hit, pass and shot at a time. I have tried watching recorded or deferred NHL games and I just cannot get into those broadcasts as I know that the game has taken place already.

 

For example, throughout the year, I have not watched a single deferred NHL broadcast from Premier Sports, even if I don’t know the score of the game. It might be a personal thing, but I just can’t get into the feeling of the game, knowing that it has been played already. It’s the same with any sport I follow, be it F1, cross country skiing, ski jumping etc. If the event has been and gone and there is a repeat broadcast I will not watch it. In the past when the NHL was with ESPN America, I watched a couple of the “As Live” broadcasts and it was like I was watching a TV soap. The  TV was on but I wasn’t really watching it.

 

Hockey, to me, is about passion, feelings, love, knowledge and sharing the event with likeminded fans. To me following hockey live is about shouting at the top of my lungs either in Finnish or English, literally living and breathing every moment as if I was at the arena watching the game with my own two eyes. For the live broadcasts of games I tend to live with the commentators of the game and get immersed into how they view the game and how they live the game, like Antti Makinen from the Finnish NelonenPro when he called the game between New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7RwBk6ZgrU

 

Another thing that has become to play a huge part in the way we watch sports is social media. We are increasingly commenting on the games we are watching through Twitter and engaging with like-minded people. We comment on the games on blogs, Facebook groups, we follow our favourite teams and associated fan groups to get more updates and information from the events.

 

The only concern I have for sports fans and social media is that we will turn into a horde of people who go to a game and sit there staring at our phones, updating our various social networks, rather than focus on the events them selves.

 

I guess the best experience of watching a live game on TV I can remember was from last years’ World Championship finals. Me and three other Finns trekked from our homes in the South-East to London to watch the final at the Pipeline Bar. It was the atmosphere at the bar and the anticipation of watching the event live in a bar, which felt like you were watching it on home soil.

 

The other fond memories that I have of watching live games is with my friend Christian while we both lived in Southampton. It was like a regular Saturday thing to have a bunch of guys at his place to have a few beers to watch the games live from NASN (now ESPN America). We never got together to watch the “As Live Broadcasts”. There simply wasn’t the same kind of feel, or anticipation for the games to start and to wait for the events to unfold, knowing that the games had been played.

 

There is a lot more that goes into watching a live broadcast of a game, but it would be difficult to explain, and to every person the experience is different. I guess I’m trying to explain what watching live games, whether on scene or on TV means to me and why repeats, 30 minute delays or re-runs don’t appeal to me.

 

 


The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships are just around the corner. In the host nation the anticipation for the games is at its peak. The reigning world champions are hosting the games with Sweden and Finland is ranked at number one at the IIHF rankings. Not bad for a nation of 5.5million and who have only won the world championship twice and is eagerly waiting for its first Olympic gold medal (no pressure guys).

 

However, one thing that has actually hit me quite hard after reading an open letter by the editor of the Finnish Urheilulehti. The editor, Esko Seppanen, criticises the Finnish Ice Hockey association’s chief, Kalervo Kummola over the pricing policy of the games.

 

I have seen stories written about the high priced tickets at the games, but the letter written by Seppanen really hits the nail on the head.  In a letter published in Urheilulehti on 26.04 and the magazine’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150772714449851&set=a.10150689498594851.420270.358693599850&type=1) Seppanen writes “Dear Mr. Kummola, You have deserted the Finnish hockey fans with your extortionate ticket prices. You have shown that the fans do not matter in your money making scheme.” (see translation of the letter at the end of this post)

Harsh words on the eve of the games in a nation that has seen a huge boost in hockey since last years’ World Championship finals. In fact, the hockey boom was evident in nearly every news outlets’ reporting. The local professional league Sm-Liiga was covered more widely than ever before and attendance was up, not to mention the emergence of some of the greatest young talents the Finnish hockey system has produced in years! Even the NHL was covered to the point that it didn’t matter whether a team had any Finns on its roster. This maybe a slight over exaggeration, but this years’ coverage has been a real pleasure to follow and it feels like for the first time in years that hockey is generating discussions around the water cooler again.

 

While I have been relying mainly on the news papers and Twitter to get a feel of the preparations to the games, it would appear that the marketing effort for the games has not focussed on the ticket sales, but rather to push TV packages to watch the games from the comfort of your home. In his letter  Seppanen calls out this fact by stating “The tournament in Helsinki starts next Friday. Mr. Kummola, have you seen a single advert that sells tickets to the games? No, you haven’t. Neither have I, or anyone else for that matter. What have we seen? Buy this super-turbo-mega package of channels. Watch the games from your couch! Better yet! Upgrade to a HD-Package”

 

Every time I visit Finland, I am confused of the TV packages and what provider offers what channels and what bolt-ons one would have to buy to get the channels that show hockey. Trust me, I feel sometimes feel like you need a degree in astro-physics to make sure that you get all the games. What I have learnt is that in Finland Nelonen Pro shows the NHL. For the World Championships the TV rights for the games were sold to MTV3 from Yle (think of Yle like the Finnish BBC). With MTV, I have no idea what channel in its vast plethora of pay to view channels the games are going to be shown on. It is incredibly confusing. Imagine if you are a tourist and want to catch a game in your hotel room. Chances are the hotel doesn’t have the channel on its channel list, or then there is the option of calling reception to ask what channel a game is on, go to a bar to watch it, or just simply give up.  

 

But what of the ticket prices themselves then? One would like to think that Finland being the reigning champion and the games being hosted in Finland (and Sweden) that the prices would be competitive and comparative to the other World Championship tournaments. Well, according to the letter by Seppanen a family of five would have to pay €1000 ($1,320) to go see Finland vs France. A THOUSAND Euros for Finland vs France. Comparatively, tickets to Canada vs USA would cost €196 ($258) and the semi-final would cost from €175 ($231) to €226 ($298), though I have seen a tweet of someone getting a ticket for the afore mentioned CAN-USA game for €40.

 

I need to take a breather here as I’m about to faint from just looking at that. How can a family of five afford a €1000 in this economy to go watch hockey, not to mention all the other expenditure (parking, refreshments, merchandise etc etc) associated with a trip to a hockey game. To some the €1000 is half of their monthly salary, if not all of their monthly salary. As Seppanen points out in his letter, it would be cheaper for that family of five to go watch the Champions’ League Final in Munich than to go watch Finland play France.

In fact just to put it into perspective, I saw someone tweet earlier in the week that in 1998 when Finland last hosted the World Championship, they were able to buy a ticket to the final in the black market for €90. That’s cheap for a ticket to the finals… on the black market. I dread to think what a single ticket on the black market would cost to go see the 2012 finals. And yet, Kummola has the audacity to wonder why the tickets aren’t selling as expected, or proclaim that the prices are on par with NHL regular season game prices. Well, him and his peers have set the prices and it’s too late to back out now.

If I was to go and watch the games in my native Finland, I would have to shell about €250-300 on flights alone and then pay almost the same to go watch Finland play France? Give me a break. I love my hockey, I really do, but there has to be a line somewhere. For those kinds of prices, I’m expecting that I would be treated like a royal.

I would rather use that money and go on holiday somewhere. At least the holiday would last longer than  60 minutes.

I really do feel bad for hockey fans in Finland and those foreign fans who have paid a top dollar to fly over to support their nation in the games. It is a huge expenditure just to watch a few games, not to mention the fact that Helsinki isn’t exactly the cheapest capital city in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I like Helsinki, but it is expensive.

I really can’t help but feel that these games are for the elite and that there is a them and us mentality between the organisers and the fans. It is almost like a throwback to the good old days of societal class structure. I’m sure there are fans who will pay tooth and nail to go see the games, but my mind boggles at how someone can seriously think that the pricing structure for the games is fair? To be honest, if I was in Finland, I would rather go to a bar to watch the games than shell out money for an additional TV package or one of the ludicrously priced tickets

 

I fear that the cheapest way to watch the games for any fan would be to buy their nations’ game package from the IIHF website, hook their laptop to their TV and put the radio on for commentary. That’s what I’ll have to resort to as there is no way that I can justify spending what would be probably two month’s wages to go watch some hockey, or less if I just wanted to soak up the atmosphere.

I don’t know whether we’ll see a colourful cavalcade of fans at the games, like we are used to with the World Championships, due to these prices or whether we will have arenas full of men in suits. I for one want to see people decked out in quirky outfits and that dude dressed in the cat costume drinking a (blow up) bottle of Fisherman’s Friend flavoured vodka.

Seppanen sums up three key facts that the organisers have done well and I have to agree with him. “Mr. Kummola, you have succeeded in three things: 1. You started to cash in on the national pride, which died at the collective level really quickly. 2. You abandoned your core fans. Those fans who lived vicariously with the Finnish team throughout the whole 2011 World Championships have been ruthlessly cut off. 3. You have turned our home games into a neutral event, where the home team has no advantage on its side as the stands have been turned into venues for the games’ corporate partners.”

 

Seppanen fires off a great finish to his letter by stating “I know that you don’t care Mr. Kummola. But the Finnish hockey fan does care!”

I hope that the games will be entertaining and that people will fill the arenas as otherwise the games might go down in history, and not in a good way. My fear is that this will leave a massive brown, smelly stain on the Finnish hockey credibility if the games are not sold out. Could you imagine either the semi-final or final that would be played to a nearly empty arena?

 

Thanks to Esko Seppanen at Urheilulehti (www.urheilulehti.fi and http://www.urheilulehti.fi/jaakiekko/leijona-liput-hapeallisen-kalliita-kummola-vaihtoi-aidot-faninsa-kylmasti-rahaan) for permitting me to quote and paraphrase his article. You can follow Seppanen on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/EskoSeppanen (tweets mainly in Finnish). Also thanks to Teemu Lindfors (https://twitter.com/#!/TeemuLindfors) and Jan Johansson (https://twitter.com/#!/JanPPa) for ticket price information.

The letter translated:

 

Dear Kalervo Kummola,

 

You have shockingly abandoned the Finnish hockey fans with the ticket prices at the World Championships. You have coldly shown that the fans mean nothing in this money making scheme.

You have also shown, that ticket sales are just a part of the whole concept. Mr. Kummola, if we are honest, ticket sales have nothing to do with the games. It is only a plus in your cash flow at the end of the games. Look around you and you’ll understand.

The tournament in Helsinki starts next Friday (4th May). Have you, Mr. Kummola, seen a SINGLE advertisement that would sell TICKETS to the tournament itself? No, no you haven’t. Neither have I – or anyone else for that matter. What have we seen?

Buy this super-turbo-mega package of channels. Watch the games from your couch! Better yet! Upgrade to a HD-Package! (It is perverse that these adverts are displayed at Hartwall Arena, and there is not a word that would push sales of tickets!)

This is what we have seen, however, perhaps more now than at any other point in time in the Finnish sporting history. Regardless of what Finnish website you visit, you will see advertisements for the TV packages. You will not see a single advertisement that would encourage you to buy tickets to see a game.

 

How can this be Mr. Kummola?

 

When you shrewdly out-priced the “people” out of your games, you are in the position where you can sell your TV packages for prices that don’t look half bad to the average consumer. If a family of five went to your friends’ Arena to watch Finland – France match, the head of the family would have to pay over a thousand euros for lower level seats! And you have the audacity to wonder why the tickets aren’t selling like hot cakes.

 

Did I forget to mention that the TV Package providers are the biggest sponsors of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association?

 

Your goal was never to allow the average income fans to the games at all. That is why you have bolted the doors shut to the average Joe at the Arena. You know full well that the family of five’s wallet will choose the TV package rather than pays a THOUSAND euros for ONE Finland – France match. Unbelievable.

 

 

Mr. Kummola, you have succeeded in three things: 1. You started to cash in on the national pride, which died at the collective level really quickly. 2. You abandoned your core fans. Those fans who lived vicariously with the Finnish team throughout the whole 2011 World Championships have been ruthlessly cut off. 3. You have turned our home games into a neutral event, where the home team has no advantage on its side as the stands have been turned into venues for the games’ corporate partners

 

This letter will carry on in the Urheilulehti World Championships special, which goes on sale on the 26th of April.

 

I know Mr. Kummola, that you do not care. But the Finnish hockey fan does care!

For the love of sports

 

Esko Seppanen, Urheilulehti


As of today, 28th of September, with eight days to go till the puck drop for the NHL regular season, the NHL has made Game Centre Live available to Europeans. Where this is a step forward, many of us still want the games on television. Notably, like I mentioned in my open letter to the NHL, AMI Partners and Medge Consulting, the internet does provide the league with further opportunities, but it cannot solely rely on online presence.

I mentioned in my letter that some households cannot receive sufficient speeds to stream games and having watched the Game Centre Live introduction video on the site, it froze four times for me. This simply is not acceptable or a proper way to watch a high speed sport.

Game Centre Live will provide option for us to pay monthly for the subscription, but once you sign up you are tied to the contract and expected to make payments on schedule.

 

However, the bigger picture here is that the NHL has seemingly undercut Medge Consulting (the TV Rights owner) and provided Europeans with a way to watch the games, even if not in a desireable manner. What this means for Medge is that it will be even more difficult to come up with an agreement with broadcasters as GCL would appear a cheaper alternative to what Medge is selling the rights for. I would like to stress that the prices I’ve heard are rumours and I have no access to confirmed figures.

So what are the options then? For those who have fast internet access, GCL is a good way to go, but for me and I’m sure many in the same boat who receive only fraction of the promised internet speeds, will have to look elsewhere. Making GCL available to Europe IS NOT a solution to the problem. The NHL needs to be on TV AND online if it really wants to make its presence known in Europe. Where GCL offers us the opportunity to watch the games I can’t help but feel that the situation is a throwback to the 80s and mid 90s when it was seemingly impossible to watch live games on television (apart from the cup finals). Like I said, I fear that the NHL has taken a step back which will take more than five years to recover from as it has a lesser capacity to attract new fans in Europe.

There’s a Twitter handle to use for TV rights for Europe (#NHLTVDeal4Europe), so please spread the word and hopefully the powers that be will take notice and we can finally see a solution to the deadlock situation.


There has been a lot of discussion of late around the NHL’s introduction of its ‘Social Media’ guidelines. The guidelines have divided opinion across fans and hockey bloggers such as myself. Where through my work life, I have been involved with social media quite heavily and have become a fan of it myself, I think the social media guidelines the NHL has put in place, do seem if anything a bit vague.

 

On the surface, or at least what I’ve been able to see has been that players are not to use Twitter before, during, after games or practices and other obligations. It would look like the time frame of players not being allowed to tweet before the game is around two hours and the ban be lifted after all the media interviews are done after the game. Anyone found breaking the rule will be fined.

 

Where I have been privy to drafting social media guidelines for businesses, one thing I always make clear is that social media is something that everyone should embrace, not fear. The thing with Twitter obviously is that the feeds in many cases are public and can be seen by anyone.

 

I touched on the topic about a year ago, when Krys Brach and Cam Jansen seemed to have arranged a fight on Twitter (http://pushforpros.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/you-tweet-i-tweet-then-we-fight-yes/). In the post I suggested that the NHL would want to police behaviour such as this, and lets face it, it is in the public domain and might not be in lieu with the leagues interests, or convey the type of message the league wants to send out.

 

I think the main premise for the rules is to prevent guys tweeting if they are or aren’t playing in a game, which the NHL will argue will give teams a competitive advantage. Sure, I agree guys should not tweet the teams’ rosters, if anything that’s the teams’ job, but what’s to stop a sports journalist tweeting the rosters? Hockey insiders are clued up on things like this. At least what I’ve seen from the SM-Liiga, journalists covering the sport in Finland are quite happy to tweet the line ups for the games (as are teams’ fans), which I think is good.

 

There are great characters within the sport, like Paul Bissonnette, Sean Avery, Michael Grabner, Ryan Whitney, Mike Camalleri and so on, and it has been great to read the guys’ tweets and get ‘closer’ to them and to the pro hockey player mind set, obviously not in a freaky stalker sense. In a way, social media has made the players more accessible and the game more fun to follow.

 

I did put out the question (via Twitter of course) whether the FA (English Football Association) had guidelines for the use of Twitter and most had not heard of them having a guideline for the players. Most people seemed to think it was the teams’ responsibility to make sure that the players would not say anything that would negatively reflect on the team. Or the other responses that I got were along the lines of footballers being too dumb to tweet, but that’s a debate for another day.

 

Of course there are mishaps from the football (soccer) world. Most notably Wayne Rooney had a spat with a fan and challenged him to a fight after a Man U training, or the player (whose name escapes me) who tweeted that he was going to ‘smash his wife’s back doors in’.

 

Sure there are exceptions, but when you are talking about social media, the same rules apply as giving a media interview, ‘if you don’t want to see something in print, don’t say it’. I’m sure there won’t be any backlash (or there shouldn’t be) for posting a few pictures from a team dinner or something along those lines.

 

Interestingly a few days before this news broke I was having a discussion with the editor of PowerPlay Magazine in the UK (over Twitter funnily enough), about whether Twitter would lower the quality of the UK Elite League if players spent an increasing amount of time on Twitter. More on the training bit in the next paragraph, but I would like to think that pro hockey players are thinking training/games first to let social media interfere with their work. If social media started to interfere with a players’ performance, his employer, the team would have words with the player to make sure that his focus was on the ice and on the game, not in the world of hash tags and bit.ly links.

 

There are things that I agree with within the policy, such as no tweeting during a game, which is a no-brainer really, as I’m sure using Twitter on the phone will be frowned upon by the coaching staff as most teams would have a ‘no phones in the locker room’ policy in place. But before practice or a game? What problem is there if a player tweets “About to head to the rink. Pumped.” or something equivalent? However, many players such as the Twitter icon Paul Bissonnette, says he does not tweet on game days. I can understand if the league is concerned that players will start tweeting whether or not they’re in the line up or what the lines are, but in my opinion this is something that the teams should guide their players on, in terms of what is acceptable and what is not.

 

Which leads us to my real point. As in the corporate world, it is the employer of an individual who has to give guidance to the employees about social media use (during working hours), the same should apply in the NHL. Ultimately the players are employed by the teams, not by the NHL and the players should have their teams’ interests at heart first. I can understand that there areas where teams would want to monitor what guys say, but like Biznasty tweeted after the policy was made public, if he says something the team doesn’t agree with, he would get a call from the Coyotes PR guys. The way I see it the NHL social media policy should only apply to the employees of the NHL, not players. Though every coin has two sides, I can understand that the NHL wants to ensure that the players don’t say anything that would damage the reputation of the league.

 

Twitter  gives fans the opportunity to talk thrash to opposing teams’ players. Former players like Theo Fleury and Jeremy Roenick have received series of jibes directed at them for what they did during their professional careers. I’m using Biznasty as an example here but him (and probably Ray Whitney) get a lot of jibes from the fans but I have to admit that they are witty in their responses and keep it within the lines of subtlety. Could you imagine the mess that it would create if a player would get into a spat with a fan (like Rooney did)? I would imagine that the local, as well as national (and International) media would have a field day with something like that.

 

Social media is a great way of bridging the gap between the fans and the players and it should be embraced and not feared, which is my initial reaction would be (note: I have not seen the guidelines document so I can only comment on what I’ve read in the media). However, the simplest form of social media policy is common sense. Players are used to rules and with the age of mobile devices, same rules should apply to use of social media as do to the use of phones on game days. I know the NBA and NFL has a social media policy in use already, though I can’t comment on its success as I don’t follow the sports close enough, however, I hope that the social media policy will not turn the players to mindless drones whose twitter streams would become something that only the NHL account would re-tweet.

 

I’m sure that I’ve missed out some of the key elements and arguments for and against the social media policy, but that would make this post far too long. Therefore I’m hoping that this will serve as a platform for comments and discussion. I’d like to think that I’m mature enough for someone to tell me that I’m talking out of my backside, but if you do have any views on the topic, I’d be interested to share them and get your views on it. No flame wars though, please.


There are somethings that people rarely forget about. There’s your first kiss, the first time you got laid, your wedding day or the day your kids were born (to those who have kids).  However, for hockey players there are few other things on the list, like the day you get drafted, sign your pro contract, score your first goal or when you first laced up the skates and put on your first ever jersey.

Jerseys are important to players and as I gaze on the wall on our stairs I can see a collection of jerseys. Jerseys that have a lot of meaning and memories regardless of the league or level. They tell me I was once part of something great and bring back memories of the guys I played with and the parents and other voulenteers who helped. Gazing on them, I remember me and my dad sitting in traffic on the A4 from Amsterdam to Utrecht trying to get me to training, or playing in my first ever team, OP Chicago Parola -82, in an out door league.

Despite the team being for guys who were born in 1982, I was allowed to play for them as there were only 6 days between my birth and the calendar year turning into -82. It’s funny, because it has been so long since that season, but I still remember it vividly. The first ever team meeting where the team was put together was held at the county hall and the team was gathered purely of guys who I went to school with. I still remember being nervous about it as I had only played on our front yard or at the local rinks, so going into something like that was a pretty big deal for me. Plus I had no kit (apart from a helmet, shinpads, gloves and skates) so it was nerve wrecking to see if I was actually allowed to play. By the way, the helmet is the old vintage Jofa that Gretzky wore and its still in immaculate condition. Despite the helmets going at around $120 on eBay, there’s no way I’m selling it.

My parents were really supportive and promised to get me the kit. Some was second hand some was new. The final piece of kit that I got was shoulder pads for Christmas, just before the season started. I even got a new stick for the season, a black Koho Revolution with the Kurri blade pattern. I used Koho sticks or blades to the day they became CCM. Old habits die hard and I still use the same blade pattern.

As I said, this league was an out door league, but our trainings were held on Thursday nights at the indoor practice arena in Hameenlinna. We also had regular weekend training slot on Saturday mornings on an out door rink at Parola, the village where we lived.

It was on one of these Saturday sessions when my mom took me to training and patiently waited rink side in the cold when we trained. After the training, the coach took the team into the changing room by the rink and got out a large cardboard box out from his car. Inside the box was something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was our jerseys. Looking back on it, the green jersey with the white print of a makeshift Chicago Blackhawks logo looks tacky now, but to me it was the best thing ever. I got jersey number 8. A number I wear today in homage to that jersey and year as its some 20 years since that season.

I still remember my first game. I didn’t even know what the hell the off-side rule was and I must’ve spent more time off-side than anything else.

Our season was a triumph. We didn’t lose a single game from the 12 game calendar and we only drew one game and the rest we won. Me and my buddy Hannu travelled to trainings and games together, well it was either of our parents that drove and kept the car warm so we could warm up between periods.

The highlight of the season was the end of season ‘in-door’ tournament between all the teams at the Hameenlinna or Ritari arena as it’s now called. We carried on our trend and won every-game in the tournament and won the championship, which sent the whole team ecstatic. I had my only point of the season in the final game when I assisted our winning goal. In the post game celebrations I had my first ever taste of champagne.

Funny what memories a jersey carries, but the jersey and the trophy are there to remind me of, probably the most cherished memories from my childhood. Similarly a jersey for a fan can bring back similar memories of seeing your favourite player score a highlight reel goal or celebrating the most treasured of sports trophies in the world. It can remind you of the nights at the game with friends, stuck in traffic jams, bad hot dogs and stale beer. Or for a younger fan, the magic of being there and being in awe of the game.

I could relay stories of all of them IJCU Utrecht, Southampton Spitfires, Basingstoke Cougars, Farnborough Arrows and Bristol Pitbulls. Hopefully there are many more memories and triumphs to come that I can re-live just by glancing up at the wall.