Building the Herd – Joe Miller

#23 Joe Miller

Position: Forward

Born: Caerdydd, Cymru

Announced as signed: Bison website, 4th December

Back once again; Joe Miller returns to Basingstoke. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Back once again; Joe Miller returns to Basingstoke.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

In what’s been a wild and wacky few days in the world of Basingstoke Bison, the Herd compounded the oddity of the recent situation by announcing the return to Hampshire of Joe Miller.

Now 31, Miller was the one of the first players to move to the new look Telford Tigers when in November 2013, it was announced that the Cardiff born forward would serve 6 weeks notice and leave Basingstoke for the side that had recently been bought by Wayne Scholes and Red Hockey Ltd.

Miller went on to have a very successful spell in Shropshire as he was part of the 2014/15 Tigers side that won the EPIHL league title at a canter and also the the EPL cup. In 137 games during this most recent spell with the Tigers, Miller registered 153 points (66 goals and 87 assists).

A product of the Cardiff junior system, Miller made his senior debut with the home town Devils in the 2001/02 season where he iced in 20 British National League games, scoring 2 goals and 3 assists. This came alongside a very productive and high scoring junior career with the amusingly named Cardiff Satans under 19 side.

Miller spent 2003/04 between Cardiff and Telford before moving to Shropshire for his first full EPL season in 2004/05 with the then named Wildfoxes. For 2005/06 the Wildfoxes became the Tigers and an impressive campaign where Miller scored 35 goals and 62 points in 44 games earned him a call from the Elite League.

In 2006/07, Miller made the move over to Manchester for his one and only full EIHL season scoring 11 points in 53 games from the Phoenix’s third line. The next season saw him return to Telford for 14 games before moving on to Peterborough late in 2007.

That Phantoms roster at the time was on to something special and the next season would be the big one as Miller would be part of the last British side to achieve a proper grand slam as they won the EPL league, cup and playoff titles with Miller scoring an astounding 88 points along the way. Miller would remain with the Phantoms until late into the 2010/11 season when he was convinced to go back to Manchester, now in the EPL as the Phoenix battled for the EPL title; a title that they would eventually win.

With the 2010/11 season at an end and with another EPL winners medal in his pocket, Miller was convinced by Steve Moria to head to Basingstoke where he was the side’s premier British forward. Retained by Doug Sheppard when he took over, Miller remained one of the league’s top scoring British forwards and remained so after his move to Telford.

However Miller’s 2016/17 had not started too well, scoring only 4 points in 16 games. When the Tigers’ financial issues hit home, Miller could not come to terms on a contract with the new owning organisation and left.

Miller’s current record stands at 535 EPIHL regular season games with 664 points (306 goals and 358 assists). He has 3 EPIHL league winners medals, two cup winners medals and one playoff winners medal. He also represented Great Britain 15 times as an underage international, scoring 3 points and earning a bronze medal with the under 18s and a gold with the under 20s.

Players move on, clubs move on; it’s the nature of the beast at this level but I think if the great Tigers return doesn’t work out as Miller hopes, that the door isn’t really fully shut for him in Basingstoke.” – Goodnight and Good Luck; Joe Miller, 2/1/14

It seems that we were not wrong.

However, here we are again; three years on from the original announcement of his impending departure and in a very different British hockey landscape since Wayne Scholes on Banners On The Wall that “every deal has to be good for the players, good for the team and good for the league and if it’s not then we don’t want to do it”. We sadly saw what the plans did to the second tier of the British game and now find the EPIHL standing on something of a precipice, however well intentioned the above statement might have been when it was made in late 2013.

One other statement that Mr Scholes made in that interview I did with him also bears repeating in this piece because I think it’s very accurate;

I look at players like Joe, he is a great leader. Joe is someone who brings a very level head, a very mature outlook on the play. You can out him on the ice and nothing phases him. He doesn’t get wound up easily, he’s a mature player who you know is going to get a knock here and a knock there and he’s not going to retaliate. He’s a guy who’s got a level head. He knows the right time to do something and the right time to walk away and I think that’s critical on a team like ours where we’ve got a team with a lot of young players who are looking to people to teach them what to do and when to do it and lead by example and that’s Joe. He is a fabulous addition to the team”.

Now obviously the situation in Basingstoke isn’t exactly the same as it was in Telford then but there are a lot of traits that are mentioned in that quote that are things that the Bison actually need at the moment. With Shaun Thompson gone, there is a place for a veteran presence who can score goals and be flexible enough to do the gritty work when required.

However it’s also worth noting that Joe Miller’s 2016/17 is mirroring the Bison’s in a lot of ways; obvious quality but not quite coming together. 4 points in 16 games is not the sort of form that you expect out of the Welshman but let’s face it, it’s been something of an odd situation that he has been playing in. Perhaps this refresh will help change both Miller and the Bison’s fortunes.

The Bison needed a player with Joe Miller’s skill set. Circumstances worked in their favour and instead of getting someone like Joe Miller, they just got the original article.

Welcome back, Joe.

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