Sheffield Steelers star back home from Covid-hit club

Davey Phillips is home from an eventful, eight week ice hockey experience at a covid-hit club in Hungary with his health intact and some money in the bank.

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 9:30 am

The defenceman swapped the Steelers for the Steel Bulls - going from Challenge Cup winners to the rock bottom of the Ersta League.

His Hungarian team Dunaújvárosi Acélbikák- which he joined after coronavirus halted the sport in the UK - parted company with him last week and Phillips is now hoping the British scene will resume again soon.

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Phillips, currently self-isolating, is in the same boat as Sheffield team-mates Jonathan Phillips and Anthony DeLuca, who have also left their club, in Germany, by mutual consent.

"I am really glad to be home. It was a good experience, I am glad I went, I don't regret it. I'd been a long time off the ice and didn't want to be off any longer, I just had to do something," he said.

"It was tough leaving my family; I have got a two year old son, Jessie.

"We'd spent a lot of time together over the lockdown and then you just have to get up and go. It's not easy.

Davey Phillips has returned from Hungary

"But everyone is making sacrifices at the minute and this was one I needed to do.

"It was a case of getting on the ice and making some money."

The Great Britain blueliner said the entire Hungarian club roster, in the steel-producing Fejér County, central Hungary, had been hit by covid.

"Our full team had it two weeks before I got there! That was a little bit of a shock, as I found out as I signed. I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise; one person gets it and everybody else (in a team) is in close proximity so they get it. But I wasn't worried, if you are going to get it, you are going to get it.

Greg Wood on the bench. Pic by Dean Woolley

"I know it is tragic what is happening but I wasn't going to let it scare me off from making a living.

"I wasn't there for sightseeing, I lived in a small flat close to the rink, played, trained, ate and slept."

Phillips, 33, kept in regular touch with his Sheffield/GB captain and namesake Jonathan Phillips, who was playing in Germany at the time.

"We talked via FaceTime, we tried to cheer each other up because we were missing our families.

"Jona (and DeLuca's) team was struggling - they'd got promotion from the league below, were bottom of the league and it sounds like they have decided to play young players and save the money.

"They probably accepted defeat and thought they wouldn't win many games and probably get relegated - I don't think they had much money, so they've cut their losses and let their imports go and are playing the kids. Jona is happy to be home, like I am.

"It is a bad situation for every hockey player right now, people having to go away and make sacrifices and it's been an awful year."

*Meanwhile, Sheffield Steeldogs have confirmed that club servant Greg Wood will be taking over the coaching role from Ben Morgan - as predicted by The Star.

Co-owner Roger Williams said: "We were caught off-guard by Ben’s decision but once we had time to digest it, we agreed that continuity was key. We weren’t bringing in a new coach with the time and opportunity to start from scratch – we needed someone who could relate to the situation the club is in and the squad Morgs had assembled. With Greg having worked closely with Ben and sharing his values, looking at where we were at the end of the Streaming Series and our aspirations for the Dogs, he was the natural and right fit for us."

Wood said: "It’s an absolute privilege to be back as head coach.

“Having worked with Morgs over the past couple of years, I don’t think you’re going to see anything dramatically change, we are a hard-working team and that’s a non-negotiable. I like to see guys express themselves, play a little expansively, we’ll be well organised, that’s something we are going to bring to the table. We’ll be ready to play every single team, we’ll focus on the small details and on doing what we do well.

“We’ve been part of the process together for a couple of years now, me and Morgs, and he’ll be part of the coaching staff with me. He’s assembled a really good team; we might make a couple of changes but overall we are in a good position. What we do have is a good core of players who know what we expect and know what to deliver and are a joy to work with."

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