Painful night for Steeler fans

Ugly scenes as Steelers fall out of the Play Offs
Ugly scenes as Steelers fall out of the Play Offs
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SHEFFIELD Steelers fans have been loud and proud for two decades.

They’ve had plenty of success to celebrate in their uniquely colourful way.

But who would be one of their number today?

This evening those loyalists who travel to Nottingham for the second leg of the Challenge Cup final against a Panthers team 4-1 up from the first leg can expect to be the butt of mockery from the thousands of home fans in the NIC.

Their team, who lost the League and then plunged out the Play Offs, have to win by four goals.

And without their coach - Ryan Finnerty having been banned for an outburst at referee Michael Hicks last Sunday - that doesn’t look a particularly safe bet.

Spare a thought too, for hundreds of Steelers fans who will return to the NIC following weekend, having pre-bought tickets for the semi-final and finals of a Play Off series they aren’t in.

For some it will be a painful reminder of last year - when exactly the same thing happened, after Hull Stingrays dumped Steelers out of the competition at iceSheffield.

If it’s bad for the fans, it’s worse for the staff at the club itself.

Finnerty looks heartbroken.

He would probably admit he went too far with Hicks and now his team will be paying for his (arguably) self-indulgent rant.

The first year full-time coach may have had a strong point in criticising Hicks for allowing a Coventry goal that should never have stood after an obvious hick-sticking incident. And the penalty on Drew Fata which led to Coventry’s sudden-death overtime goal was, frankly, barmy.

But you can’t blame a whole season’s ills on one or two calls or one referee.

Finnerty’s task now includes two extraordinary challenges:

* To inspire his crestfallen team - while not being on the bench and unable influence playing matters tonight.

* To keep hold of his job - no simple task as the owner Tony Smith has already stated.

*What do you think about Sheffield Steelers’ thoroughly awkward season? Should Ryan Finnerty be given another shot? Email starsport@jpress.co.uk or comment on line.