There have been years when I’ve walked into a Steelers’ dressing room and looked at a certain player (or two) and thought – not keen on you, son – you’re not giving me everything – you’re cheating me and my club.
Now you would think as we sit fifth in the league and not having the best of times that I would be on the war path for a scapegoat, a figure to blame but funny enough it’s just not the case.
I walk into our room and I see a good group of people who are giving us everything they have. I couldn’t point the finger at one of them and accuse them of cheating our club.
I see a coach and his staff of assistants and medical team working day and night, trying to keep the train on the rails. They are under the utmost pressure, mostly from themselves to improve performances and results for the run-in.
I see great stars of our team struggling and it’s sad to see because for not one single second have they failed to give our club all that they have. I only ever ask one thing from any coach or player joining us at the Steelers and that is that they give us everything.
Sat in that room right now are a group of tired, fatigued blokes who over a period of years, not weeks or months – years have done nothing but deliver for us. They have bled for us, played hurt, won games and championships for us. These guys over many years have given us some of the most exciting and enjoyable moments of our sporting lives – just last year for example – I’m not about to turn my back on any one of them.
I’ve seen Zack Fitzgerald take a puck in the mouth and be back playing three weeks later after losing his teeth. I’ve seen Colton Fretter with tears running down his face in a dressing room in Nottingham, such was the pain he was in. Retirement would have been the easy option. No, he dug in, committed, fought his way back to help our cub win and win again. I’ve seen Mathieu Roy, our finest goal scorer, block shots, take injections to play, not be able to hold a stick but still lead the charge.
I look at a guy like Tim Wallace. A decorated hockey player with many NHL games. He hasn’t had the easiest of years but he hasn’t hidden once, he hasn’t cheated me or our club once.
Call me a happy clapper, call me what you like but these are my boys and right now they need all of us.
They need us on their side, right behind them for this run-in. I’m sure they feel that the world is against them right now. From September they have been hit with various bumps in the road – injuries, Ronnie leaving, the Deveaux experiment, more injuries, the schedule caused by the Continental Cup, injuries and a loss of form at just the wrong times.
People everywhere want to shout, criticise, knock, blame – it’s a blame culture world we live in. Right now the easiest thing in the world for us to do is just that, walk in and beat a dead horse. But what good would that do?
What’s really needed is for the team to know we are behind them until the final whistle of the year. After that what will be will be and that’s for others to decide.
I think these next four weeks are pay-back for the incredible times these blokes have given us, remember three championships in the last three years, that doesn’t last forever.
Never before has a team needed us, the people outside the room, whether that be ownership, club officials, fans, media and a like more. Yes I understand the argument that it is them who should entertain us, but this group have entertained me enough and I hope you to give a bit back. None of us want the season to just fade away. The summer will be here soon enough so why not just give it one last push, collectively as a club.
As will many of you, I will be there in Nottingham on Saturday and at home against Cardiff on Sunday. Like many of you I will be hoarse by 7.30pm on Sunday evening after cheering my team on, win lose or draw.
We are Steelers, they are our men, they wear our shirt.