Building the Herd – Matt SelbyPosted: 31/01/2014
#4 Matt Selby
Born: Birmingham, England
Announced as signed: Club website 29th January
“Where do I start? Oompa loompa, receding hairline…”
My conversation with Matt Selby about why he’s called the “manchild” has turned to a discussion about former Basingstoke rink manager and current boss of the Skydome, Chris Carpenter. We joke about our mutual acquaintance but ultimately our main focus is on the hockey.
Having first appeared for the Bison last season, Selby returned to Hampshire on Wednesday night and right onto the blueline in the Herd’s cup semi final first leg against Guildford which Basingstoke won 8-3 with Selby having not trained with the side.
“It was enjoyable actually. It’s nice to get a big win at home, a good start to the tie against Guildford. It was nice to see the fans so happy as well. It was a little different as I usually play forward. The first period was a bit shaky as I had to get to grips with playing defence again but I felt really comfortable. It’s nice to be back”.
Selby played on defence for most of his junior career and has been regularly playing on defence for the Coventry Blaze’s NIHL team but plays as a forward in the Elite League for the Blaze.
“I started training with the Blaze senior team as a defence and I played there for the ENL team but I didn’t get that opportunity because it’s a lot of responsibility playing defence and being the last guy. Thommo played me as a forward for a game and I was just working hard and he saw the potential of me being a power forward. From there he said ‘I want to sign you as a forward’ and from there I started playing as a forward. Obviously I could bounce back to d as needed.”
When it comes to the Bison though, in his mind Selby seems more sure of how he’ll be used. “I got the phone call the other day and asked if I was going to be used as a forward or d and he (Doug Sheppard) said he felt I was more effective at the back because they’ve already got so much talent playing forward and with my role as a power forward perhaps that’s not what they need right now. With me back on d that makes 3 pairings and the defence is stronger all round as people are rested.”
The big question; which does he prefer?
“To be honest it’s hard to say. I enjoy playing forward but after last night I enjoyed it so much that I think d at the moment but will I be thinking forward in a couple of months? I always try to do the offensive stuff but I know what kind of player I am. There’s only so much stuff you can do being a grinder. I’m not a goal scorer and if I’m more effective playing defence then that’s what I want to be doing.”
It’s been a strange year for the Coventry Blaze organisation; the departure of long time coach Paul Thompson to be replaced behind the bench by his assistant Matt Soderstrom has not proven to be an easy transition for the club. 4th in their conference and 7th overall in the EIHL, it’s been a frustrating season for the Blaze fans and an inconsistent one on the ice.
From the perspective of being coached, Selby doesn’t notice much of a difference.
“I know Thommo’s more experienced. He’s been around a lot longer than Matty. It might be different for the senior players on the team who have seen goodness knows how many coaches but the only coaches I’ve had senior wise are Thommo and Matty who was an assistant coach when Thommo was in charge. It’s Matty’s first year and it’s tough for him to jump in the deep end and coach an Elite League team. For me I’ve had a lot of opportunities and Matty’s invested in me and the younger guys over the summer. He was taking us to the gym and making sure we were ready for the season. He gave us some good opportunities.”
Given the chance he’d had at the Blaze, is the Birmingham born youngster frustrated to find himself back in the EPL?
“It’s not frustrating at all, it’s almost a relief. I want to be playing as much as possible while I’m young. In the last few weeks in Coventry we’ve signed a couple of guys and people recovered from injuries so I wasn’t getting as many chances as I was earlier on in the year. Obviously I loved it down in Basingstoke last year and I got the phone call saying I had an opportunity to go back and get more ice time and I pounced on it.”
“I had some offers in the summer from different EPL teams but I wanted to play at the highest level possible. I was trying to invest in myself but that obviously didn’t work out for me half way through the year. I’d talked to my parents about Milton Keynes and them playing out of Coventry but Basingstoke was my priority because of how much fun I had last year. They were also asking at the time. It’s the only club I know in the EPL. I’ve enjoyed it here, I wouldn’t want to change anything”