David Simms' Sheffield Steelers ice hockey column: Get ready for Panthers' showdown
They say the rivalry isn’t what it used to be and if that means in terms of fighting well I guess ‘they’ are right.
Unfortunately the world is a changing place as we pander to the needs of the PC and the easily offended.
Nothing in this world is what is used to be. That’s what we have memories for.
But, for me a night with the Nottingham Panthers is still head and shoulders the most important, head and shoulders the most exciting and easily head and shoulders the night that means the most to me.
They are the enemy, they are the wrong to our right, they are the dark to our light and they are the evil to our good. They are Nottingham and we are Sheffield. We don’t like them and they sure don’t like us.
Since game one when Ivan Matulik and Paul Adey fought, then went to the box and then came out and fought again this rivalry got to me. I bought in from the beginning. They way they mocked us when they were the old established club and we were the new kids on the block, they way they thought they knew best and were better than us just because they had history, well not much of one.
We showed them, we won championships, many of them in their barn including the first one four years into our existence. They have won one championship since 1956 and yet we have won 9 in just 28 years.
Yet still they try and look down on us with a bitter taste in their mouth. I think it could be down to jealousy, you could understand that with what we have won and achieved. Last year we took their final crown that of best supported team in the league.
To be fair we had been for a few years though the series of games at ICE Sheffield had brought our average attendance down, once those games had gone we emerged out on top.
This weekend we go again, two new teams with two new coaches. Their head and assistant coaches are former Steelers and it will be interesting what to witness their approach to these games.
Our team last year had one of the worst records in our history and yet we still won the series against Nottingham 6 games to 2. When we were down and out on a life support machine they couldn’t finish us off and administer the last rights.
Maybe they are right after all, maybe it isn’t the same rivalry, for a rivalry to be good and proper both teams have to win.
For me, I still love it and everything that a game against them brings. I love not being able to eat breakfast and lunch on game day because my stomach is turning.
I love turning up three hours early to their building and just sitting there in the dressing room nervous and excited at the same time.
I love walking out of our building early and seeing the car park full earlier because many of you feel the same as I do and just want to get the the rink early. We feel happier there, together.
Don’t tell me that this series is just another series against just another team. This is the Steelers and the Nottingham Panthers. This is Us Vs. Them. They will try and play it down yet they will pack their barn out quicker for games against us than any other team, they will try and make it hostile as we will with them.
Pre-Season is over, the real stuff begins on Saturday with the game at the Fly DSA Arena. A new series of games against our oldest rival.
Saturday night in Sheffield, Sunday night in Nottingham – you won’t beat it for atmosphere, excitement and theatre.
Roll on Saturday night – face off at 7pm – Fly DSA (Sheffield) Arena – if you haven’t tasted a Steelers Panthers night, or a Panthers Steelers night then I and tens of thousands of people suggest that you do.