Curtain Down 2016/17

Banners On The Wall officially closes the book on it’s 2016/17 season and all its generalised insanity. This is Curtain Down.

Playoffs: A thank you to Ben Norris for the travel and the company as well as Becky, Paul and Sam Shipman for their hospitality again. It says something about how well brought up a small child is when they sit you down to pick out toys that you might find useful for your child. Same goes to Isaac Coles who continues to be equal parts of his parents, Stu and Kerry.

The weekend had some unusually un-hockey-like fan behaviour at the weekend but featured some very good hockey. Whilst the Bison result was not the one we wanted, it was an entertaining one and arguably the best for its quality since I’ve started going to finals weekends. Any side that can score 15 goals in two high pressure games like that deserves to win the trophy so congratulations to Milton Keynes on their success and all the best to them and Guildford going forward into the Elite League for next season.

It was a strange experience not being involved in the podcast stuff this year following the demise of the Manchester Phoenix though the fans still travelled and their chant of “we’ve got no team but we’re still here” was a lovely and poignant moment of the weekend.

If nothing else, I ate so well this weekend. The recommendation is Nashaa’s curry house and Wagamama’s were so late getting me my food that I got a chicken katsu curry for free!

The season: As I mentioned above, this season has been wacky and that’s been on both a micro and macro scale. That said we’ll try and focus on the Bison themselves as we’ve talked on here a fair bit about the rest of it.

On the ice, the season gets a B- as a grade. The title wasn’t successfully defended, no semi finals of the cup but a really good and productive second half of the season combined with a really good charge into the playoff weekend. For the most part this season the Bison have played hard, physical hockey hand in hand with skilful hockey. On their day they were unbeatable and played a brand of hockey that was entertaining and value for the money that people paid.

Tactically at times and with the recruitment, Doug Sheppard had issues this year. The near revolving door of import defencemen in the first half of the season before the return of Joe Rand and the addition of Dan Scott on the back end but Sheppard has shown again that when he gets it right that the Bison on the ice that they will (and did for the most part) challenge for titles.

This is of course coupled with the fact that the facility that the team currently play in is substandard. I mentioned at Christmas that the Bison offer entertaining hockey in spite of their facility than in conjunction with it. Planet Ice as an organisation need to improve the situation for players and fans in the Basingstoke Arena as a matter of urgency though I think they do know that. The issue is that everyone involved needs to see some action irrespective of any potential new development at Leisure Park and I would encourage Planet Ice to make a statement as to what will be happening with the rink over the summer to improve things ahead of 2017/18.

Thank you: This will always start one way; thank you Emily for always supporting me in this. Here’s hoping the little one likes the ice rink because I don’t think they really have a choice, do they?

A thanks again goes to Grant King of 5 Hole Photography for allowing me to use his photos on here. Grant genuinely has become one of the best hockey photographers in the country on a par with anyone British hockey can offer. Please remember to always credit him if you tweet or share an image.

John Neville and Graham Bell continually allow me to get on with this without seeing BOTW as a threat to the Bison organisation but as someone holding up the mirror to it to try and help it get better in ways. I make no bones about the fact that I love the club and as a hockey fan I support the Bison at heart and I think they realise that. Hopefully it comes through in the writing.

The members of the British hockey blogger and podcast union deserve their thanks for their continued support over this past season and a massive thank you to all who appeared on the podcast this season.

My other friends at rinks across the country are wonderful but a special mention must go to those that I see every week in Basingstoke. They put up with my ranting, my raving, my yelling at clouds (thanks Eleanor) with good grace and continue to keep me honest. May we have many more days together sat in the sunshine, laughing together.

BOTW going forward: So, for those who don’t know or didn’t get it from what was written above, I’m due to become a dad in July. It’s exciting and terrifying in equal measure. The plan for BOTW is to keep going. Hockey writing remains my release so I want to keep going. I realise that this means I have to adapt on the fly as my priorities in life change however BOTW retains a place of being known for producing quality content within British hockey and if I can then I want to keep that going. There’s also hopefully some exciting podcast news coming soon as well.

When news comes, it’ll be here.

Keep safe,



One Comment on “Curtain Down 2016/17”

  1. Derek Hulbert says:

    Always a good read. Keep up the work with the Bison news, reports and gossip and don’t forget the ‘domestic news’. Hope to hear soon. All the best to you and the better half.

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