Building the Herd – Ciaran LongPosted: 19/12/2013
#89 Ciaran Long
Born: Birmingham, England
Announced as signed: Bison Booster Club Quiz Night, 18th December
With the 2013/14 EPL season providing talking point after talking point, Bison coach Doug Sheppard has responded to the loss of Joe Miller by announcing the return to Basingstoke of Ciaran Long.
Long, 22 recently left the troubled Slough Jets after just over a year with the Berkshire side that he joined midway through the 2012/13 campaign.
Long started his junior career with Swindon and quickly emerged as a real talent, making his EPL debut during the 2005/06 season. Ciaran played for Swindon at under 16, u18/19, ENL and EPL level between 2005 and 2009 and below EPL level averaged over a point per game at every level he played at. Long had a breakout year in his final campaign with the Wildcats in 2008/09 when he scored 32 points in 48 games in the EPL as well as 26 points in 6 games at under 18 level and representing GB at the u18 and u20 world championships.
For 2009/10, Long left the lair of the Wildcats and signed with Slough, scoring an impressive 40 points in 51 games with the Jets as the Berkshire side lifted the playoff trophy.
For 2010/11, Long was tempted to Hampshire where he linked up with the Bison. Ciaran had an impressive year with the Bison and proved to be a key performer as he hit a rich vein of form as the season was coming to a close. This saw him earn substantial special teams minutes and he finished the season 30 points from 39 games and a career high 114 PIMs.
Long spent the next season and a half from 2011 till early 2013 with the Manchester Phoenix. Long continued his good performances, becoming a fan favourite with the Phoenix. In 82 contests in a Manchester shirt, Ciaran tallied 47 points. He also made 4 appearances for the Trafford Metros (now the Manchester Minotaurs) scoring 10 points in 4 games.
Long left the Phoenix for “personal reasons” and re-joined the Jets where he was until last week. Since rejoining Slough, Long is over a point per game scoring 60 points in 48 games including 35 so far this season in 27 games.
Ciaran won a gold medal with the GB u18s in division 2 b in 2008/09 along with a full compliment of gold, silver and bronze medals in his time with the GB under 20s. In total he’s made 17 appearances at international level for a total of 23 points.
If it tells you how widely known this signing was coming when I walked into the Bison Booster Club quiz night last night, friend of the blog Phil Perry turned to me and said “Don’t mention the Ciaran Long! I mentioned the Ciaran Long once but I think I got away with it.” The announcement, capped by Long appearing dressed as Father Christmas did bring a smile to everyone’s face and fair play to Ciaran for getting in the spirit of it.
It’s no massive surprise why this signing has been made because positionally it’s a like for like swap with the departing Joe Miller. A right shot, right winger who can score and play with an edge is exactly what the Bison needed and exactly what the Bison got. Whilst it’s obviously not nice to see what’s happening to the Jets, the Bison have made hay from the situation with the signing of an over point per game British forward.
Long has been a go to player for the Jets since his return there at the start of 2013, getting special teams time and top line minutes and we can expect to see the same of him in Basingstoke. Who Long plays with will be interesting; Miller has recently been playing with Sheppard and Greener which seems like the most natural fit but it does depend on who Ciaran clicks with. It wouldn’t be past Sheppard to re-jig the lines about if he finds something that works or injury dictates. With the luxury of a couple of games with both Miller and Long in the side, expect variations in the lines as they see what fits in game situations.
A player of Long’s quality should be able to hit the ground running and make an instant impact for the Bison, just as former team mate Darius Pliskauskas likely will for Peterborough. The merry-go-round of EPL is likely not finished either as the signing deadline looms and players need to get their 15 games in to qualify to be on the playoff roster. How many other roster moves the Bison make remains to be seen at this time but we know that Sheppard is not afraid to pull the trigger on player movements if needs be. Last season he made moves as opposed to this season where he has responded to situations that have arisen but if a piece becomes available, it would be hard to doubt that Sheppard won’t make the necessary move to end the long wait for silverware. Ciaran Long said he was coming to Basingstoke to win the league title, let’s hope so.
Welcome back Ciaran though after last night, I wouldn’t worry about Festival Place asking you to be Santa next year.