We Support Our Local Team - Streatham Ice Hockey Club

Flying High Blog

At Palace, we pride ourselves on supporting our local team, of being South London and Proud. As such, Palace fans should understand how engaging getting behind a local team can be and with the new Ice Hockey season starting this weekend, we spoke to Streatham Ice Hockey Captain and devoted Palace fan Joe Johnston (those of you that bought the print issue #5 will have encountered Joe before) about the upcoming season.

Tickets are only £10 for adults and £6 concessions, which can be bought on the Streatham site or on the door, with Saturday matches facing off at 5.30pm and 6.45pm on a Sunday. With a Palace fan as Captain, locals in the team and a superb rink to watch the action unfold on, what have you got to lose?

For those fans who aren’t aware of the team, can you give us a brief history (oldest team etc) and when/where they can come and see games.

Streatham are one of the oldest and most historic ice hockey clubs in Britain. The team folded in the 1993-94 season and were reborn 10 years later in the 2003-04 season. As well as our team we have 2 recreational sides, a full junior club of all age groups, 2 women's teams and a team for players with special needs and developmental disabilities. In recent times we have seen our rink knocked down, we've played out of a temporary facility in Brixton and returned back to a brand new rink and leisure centre just a few doors down from the original rink.

All the while we've made strides on and off the ice, improving league positions and cup runs as well as increasing our fan base and working more with the local community. It's been an eventful few years. We play nearly every weekend, Saturday and/or Sunday evenings, and can be found battling away and defending South London honour on a shiny brand new ice pad on Streatham High Road. It's high octane, physical and exciting end to end entertainment that can be viewed in comfortable seats in a beautiful facility; cold beer in your hand as you do this is optional but highly recommended. What's not to like?      

We finished the season very strongly last year, winning some away games against teams for the first time in years and were top for a while. Just how good were we last year (and how good to watch!)?

We were a good team last year. We beat everyone home and away and won in some places that we haven't won in for over 20 years. In terms of progression and improvement we were spot on. I'm a pretty harsh critic so I can't say we were happy because we failed to win anything. But in the grand scheme of things it was another step towards building a platform for glory. If we can get a bit more consistency we might be on to something. I think we were very entertaining to watch and played a great style of fast attractive hockey. We kept it interesting at times, though often not intentionally (trailing London Raiders at home 5-0 then coming back to win 6-5) so as thrilling and exciting as we made it for the fans that kind of thing isn't really in the game plan.     

We spoke about it in the print mag last year - there are similarities between Streatham and Palace, do you think this will help Palace fans decide to come and support? Who are the local lads in the team, other than yourself of course?

The similarities between us and Palace are ridiculous. Geographically we are obviously very close neighbours. Both teams have endured a sketchy past in recent times and are now well run and very much on the up. You'll find more cobwebs than trophies in both club cabinets. Historically Streatham would flatter to deceive by winning games we shouldn't and losing ones we should win at a canter. We'd always get done over on ridiculous and unique decisions.

We've always relied on producing great young talent and bringing them through the junior system up to the senior team. And we've always been a huge club in the making without realising our potential. While we're at it let's throw in a large, extremely loyal and noisy fan base who have relentlessly supported the team through the darkest days up to now. Sound familiar?

Personally I can identify with these parallels more than most because I've lived through both clubs ups and downs. If I'm totally honest I ever so slightly take umbrage with all the new fans that I sometimes see when I go up the Palace these days because I can't help but think 'where were you when I was watching us lose to Bury in the league cup?' and all the dross I've had to sit through on various rainy South London midweek evenings. I've done my time so I feel like I deserve to enjoy these current good times more than new fans. That is completely unfair of course and it's natural evolution that now we're flying in the Prem we are a much more attractive proposition to new fans and tourists. 

I was born in Mayday Hospital and grew up and lived just over a stones throw from Selhurst Park. I used to lay in bed as a kid and hear the crowd cheering and booing on midweek games and the area will always be home to me. Our other local boys are Will Sanderson (Mitcham), Jack Tarzcycki (Sutton) Caz Madren-Britton (Streatham), Liam Rasmussen (Croydon) and Joe Allen (Lewisham), and I think it's vitally important to have a base of local players to carry on the character, passion and identity of the club.

With Streatham being so local and my hockey career starting it was an obvious choice to be part of both clubs and to this day they remain to be the two sweetest and most frustrating yet rewarding loves of my life. I wouldn't have it any other way. I adore both teams and all that they stand for.

We’ve lost some goalscorers in (league top scorer and the Division's Player of the Year) Calum Best, American import Scarzy and skillful Jakub Klima but we’ve brought in some big names from higher leagues, tell us about the new guys and what they bring to the team. What can people expect to see when they come to games?

It's hard to replace the guys we lost from last year but I think we've been smart in our recruitment. Firstly James Warman and Michael Ranby are low risk signings because they've played for us previously and are proven in our league. Warms is a dependable and solid D man and Rambo brings size and a physical presence along with goals and an all action display.

Also in the 'proven in our league' camp are Ryan Giles and David Wride. Both players are top quality performers at this level and it's nice to have them on our side rather than playing against them for a change. Gilesy is one of the best D men in the league and is an intelligent and tough customer. He'll also bag a few from the blue line and will be effective on our powerplay. I know from personal experience what a pain Wridey is to play against and he is a top goalie. He's capable of winning games on his own and I've already seen on training how good he and Will are as a goaltending duo and it will benefit them both to push each other this season.

Chris Wiggins and Nicky Chinn were our first two signings and have come from the EPL. Wiggy is a beast and will prove popular with the fans. He's been known for his physical attributes and fighting ability in recent years but it shouldn't be overlooked that he can play a bit too. He'll definitely add that bit of intimidation we've lacked in recent years.

Lastly Nicky Chinn joins us and he hardly needs an introduction. At age 42 he's an extremely well decorated and respected servant to British hockey and to have his experience and presence on board is invaluable to us. His signing also stops me from complaining about how old I am and that I can't hack it any more. With the introduction of these new players I think you'll see a more aggressive game from our team.

The chatter doing the rounds is how we'll cope with losing the flair players and time will tell whether that is a fair question or not. I'm hoping that the introduction of the new players will see us develop as a team and not rely as heavily on individual players. I also think the new style of play will give opportunities to others who will be looking to step their personal game up a bit more in comparison to last season.       

We'll leave it to Joe to finish his pitch:

If you're a Palace fan and you're reading this and pondering over whether to venture down and support South London's other number one... that was my case to get you on board. Try it, you'll be hooked and you will also be helping out ice hockey's answer to CPFC.

You can follow Streatham on twitter here.

Hockey shots (c) Rick Webb

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