The incredible Steelers fans off to Belfast despite their game being in Cardiff

You have to be 'work-agile' in sports these days, to borrow a dreadful modern phrase.

Friday, 17th December 2021, 1:18 pm

While Covid persists, competitors can now no longer be 100 per cent certain that the match on their fixture list is the one that is going to take place.

That goes for the fans too, of course.

Take Sheffield Steelers, this weekend.

On Friday night, the team was due to play at Belfast Giants, with Saturday bringing a repeat match at the same venue.

Then Covid stuck its unwelcome beak in, an unknown number of members of the Northern Irish side became infected, and Sheffield skaters suddenly found themselves having to plan for a Saturday road trip to Cardiff Devils, instead.

The coaching staff had to shelve their pre-game planning, download some old video of Cardiff v Sheffield, and switch their focus.

In all honesty it amounts to a small inconvenience to the team - but a huge one for the travelling fans.

Some Steelers fans are still making the trip to Belfast this weekend despite the game being postponed.

A week before Christmas, yet they'd somehow found the funds to follow their team across the Irish Sea. And many are still going.

Giants tried their best to be hospitable by setting out to organise a streaming TV event.

It will be held at the Clayton Hotel, in the city centre.

So Sheffield fans (possibly as many as 200) could watch Steelers while they are in downtown Belfast...and while their team is in South Wales!

Sheffield Steelers will now play Cardiff Devils this weekend.

Crazy doesn't even begin to describe it.

But there is one thing you can take for granted.

These travelling fans across the water will have a cracking time.

One fan wrote on a Steelers' Facebook group: "Looking forward to it - world's upside down at minute."

None of the Sheffield group have been ill with coronavirus.

Another added: "I'm still looking forward to it! Maybe the last time we get away for a bit the way it's going! Can't wait for the mulled wine at the Christmas market."

Bless them - they are the true definition of fans, even if they are 300-plus miles away from the game that is actually being played.

Inconvenience apart, maybe more troubling times are ahead.

If it becomes the norm for more games to be cancelled than are actually being played, then the EIHL will have to find a back-up plan.

A mini-series behind closed doors?

I can't see that working for fans, players or ownerships.

But the most important principle is keeping people safe.

None of the Sheffield group have been ill with coronavirus.

Glasgow Clan, due to play at the Arena on Wednesday, are in good health.

And it seems Nottingham Panthers will be through their isolation period two days before their Boxing Day match with Steelers.

On a hockey context, Steelers are six points clear at the top of the table and it would be a sad state of affairs if that momentum was interrupted.

But it is the public health context that matters most.

We will all be guided by the science, as we keep hearing.

Fingers, gloves, pads, hockey sticks...everything crossed.