Simmsey column: 26 championships for Sheffield Steelers? Not too shabby

As I was laid out ill in bed last Saturday feeling sorry for myself for not being well and unable to make the game, not just any game, the Championship Banner raising game against Fife. I leaned over grabbed the laptop and logged on for the webcast.

Wednesday, 26th October 2016, 7:53 pm
Fife Flyers lose out on home ice to Sheffield Steelers. Pic: Martin Watterston

I sat proudly watching the banner raised to the Arena rafters – proud of our team, our club and smiling to myself thinking of what a slog and battle it was when Jonathan Fearnly the commentator read out a stat I will check (all being well) on Saturday at the game against Coventry.

You see this stat will make you feel very proud of your club. As the banner raised Jonathan said the words “The 26th championship banner raised to the Arena rafters” I remember thinking “26?” Then you start thinking (Sheffield Council, SIV and any other Sheffield body, hope you are reading this) about 25 largely successful years, including nine league championships.

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Years ago, the double league and Wembley play offs weren’t good enough so the year after we added the cup and made it a treble in our drive for five.

During the BIHA premier league we were the dominant club. Then comes Super League. Fantastic hockey and opponents, we raised the game and we won, cups, play offs and of course league titles.

The Elite League followed, we won the first one and have added four more since. Play off titles too. Over 25 years constantly delivering titles, championships and banners.

If I was head of marketing for the City of Sheffield I’d use us to promote success. Sure we aren’t (the now retired) Jessica Ennis, but we are second, right?

Sheffield – Steelers – we win.

When you look up into the rafters and join me for the count on Saturday the one banner that you don’t see a lot of is the Challenge Cup. We haven’t won it for donkey’s years. It’s the only trophy our all-time most successful captain Jonathan Phillips hasn’t lifted in Steeler colours.

Victory against Coventry Blaze on Saturday will see Steelers top their Challenge Cup round robin group (just as we did last year) - we made it to the semi finals last year. Then the push for the league title, a build-up of games, crazy scheduling due to lack of ice time was all to much and Nottingham walked all over us.

This year is a great opportunity to go one better. The finals will be played in Cardiff, how good would it be to take the Orange Army of fans down there for a proper cup final, what an occasion that would be.

The best way is to win your group and gain the most advantageous draw.

A lot of you have been interested in the progress of the two apprentices, Cole Shudra and Liam Kirk. You’ll see them play on Saturday. Some thought these young guns were going to ice from the start. But they are still boys. They are growing in to men as they train with Steelers daily. The apprentice project was a three year one, we are three months into it and early reports suggest all is well. Lets see how they do at the weekend.

Final word for Levi Nelson. On Saturday morning Paul Thompson told me Levi Nelson wasn’t playing. The medical staff didn’t think we can risk him.So when I logged onto the webcast and there he is on the ice banging around and causing mayhem. That’s my kind of Steeler.