well hi there, happy '15
15 was the number i had when i played ice hockey, and it's a weird thing thing with us hockey players, and sportsmen and women in general i think, a lot of us are superstitious, not everyone, but i have lost count of the people i know who use the number from their playing days as their pin number or every password imaginable.
so it was with great pleasure that i welcomed 2015, and lit an array of explosives to mark the moment with my old playing pal gary stefan.
stef and i first played together on a dashing streatham redskins team in london when i was 18 alongside moosey boy, and it was partly due to stef's scoring skills in a memorable season for me, where a 6th place also ran bunch of misfits beat the league champions durham wasps out of a wembley championships spot, and shocked the british ice hockey fraternity, and the hundreds of durham fans who had already booked their hotels and tickets to the wembley weekend to watch the conquerors of britain go on to collect the only remaining trophy that year.
we had to play durham twice in the playoffs, home and away, and we made the journey north to the delightful durham ice rink, which was full to the rafters with fans baying for the redskins from south london's scalps.
unfortunately for the boys in blue, we never read the script properly, and they definitely didn't dream they were going to give up their unbeaten home record to a team of mixed miscreants, including a grave digger, a doorman, and a tax inspector.
as a goalie, at playoff time more than any, i always seemed to find a rich vein of form, and i think the added pressure heightened my focus, and i always got enveloped by the pressure and sudden death, win or lose, you're in or you're out kind of situation, and the adrenaline in big games always stimulated me, and i think is probably part of my dna that causes me to do the stuff i still do, and i can feel my friends and family nodding at this as they read on :)
anyways, as stef would say, we stepped on the milky ice and i was to hear a lovely expression hurled at me by an opposing forward who suggested as i stopped a breakaway, that really should have ended with a goal for the guys in blue, 'smitty, you've got a horseshoe up your ass' and although this was not scientific fact, the essence of his outcry had some truth in it.
i had 'one of those' games.
i stopped almost everything the firepower of the league champs had to offer, and i specifically remember falling over at one point with my arms outstretched in a desperate attempt to stop the vulcanised rubber disc entering my net, and finding it nestled in my glove, and my teammates hitting my goalie leg pads congratulating me on my excellence, and athletic skill.
i knew, and only i knew, i was having 'one of those' games.
they don't come often, but when they do, you have to enjoy them, as their bastard brother, 'the bad game' is always only a game away, where the complete opposite happens, but that night i could nearly do no wrong.
led by stef at the other end of the ice after 60 minutes of played, the scoreboard read home 2 visitors 9.
the home crowd were stunned, and the silence was a beautiful shade of golden, and after the game as we left the arena behind and stepped into the cold northeast air and onto the bus to take us down the a1, we drank beer, laughed, and sang profanity ridden songs, and glued our friendships together in a way that would last a lifetime.
this victory was big news in the uk hockey world, and the last game of the playoffs was the return leg which gave the league champions the opportunity to get revenge for their home tie humiliation.
i parked outside the ice rink in streatham and listened to bruce springsteen sing 'rosalita' on a bootleg cassette, and as bruce's tempo increased with pace, so my heart joined him, i was pumped and ready for my challenge.
we needed a draw from this fixture, and the atmosphere as i entered the arena was electric, durham had brought busloads of fans, and as i walked past them, i knew and they knew, i was the thorn in their side in the previous fixture, and the verbal abuse they aimed at me was shouted with a degree of nervousness, a really strange thing, but i knew they were scared.
the draw that we needed was 60 minutes away, and as a game it was no spectacle, resembling a fight between two drunks after closing time rather than a championship bout with stallion like boxers, we clung on and scrapped valiantly, with the score 5-5 with ten minutes to play.
the volume in the streatham high road ice rink was at max, and a fever pitched capacity crowd screamed themselves hoarse with every chance that was attempted, and i loved it!
the adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and i was doing what i loved most in the world.
the last face off of the game, with the wasps of durham with their goalie off the ice to allow them the last roll of the dice with an additional player attacking my goal.
i glared at their forwards through my iron cage.
i knew, and they knew.
they had to beat me.
and that wasn't going to happen, not tonight, this was my night, and as the puck was dropped stef fought with all his might to win the puck and he scrambled it towards the boards, and i glanced up at the electronic scoreboard as the red numbers counted down, 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 -0, the klaxon sounded and our team bench poured onto the ice as my team mates headed towards our goal, and smothered me in a human pyramid, as we all screamed and shouted along with the home crowd, man it was noisy!
this series of events led to me walking through the doors of wembley arena on may 4th '85, to play in my first semi final playoff game in front of the biggest crowd of my life, which was a massive moment in my career, but the biggest gamechanger of this experience was meeting someone, who nearly thirty years later has given me two awesome children, and shared the highs and lows of my life, so gary stefan thanks for winning that faceoff.
well if you subscribe to this blog you never know what you're gonna get, and i've gotta be honest i never for one second saw that story coming out, watch the unsubscribe numbers soar, lol!!
so 2015 a big year?
i hope so, as i have looooooooooots of plans, and i hope you dear reader come on the journey with us.
apologies for the lack of blogs over crimbo, but i wanted to practise what i preach, and be more about the presence than the presents, and i had a lovely family time, and i hope you did too?
so as we wave 2014 goodbye it is often a time to reflect, and it was a year for me tinged with sadness, but also full of joy, but rather than dwell on either, i would prefer to look firmly ahead, and savour the fact that i'm still at bat, and hopefully together we can share some brilliant times.
bigmoose has been growing, and getting some amazing support, and this weekend we get a double page spread in the western mail on the grab your coat project, which you will be able to read about on mediawales.com if you aren't in wales, and i will be posting links on our social media platforms, so hopefully this helps promote the amazing generosity people nationwide have been showing by giving warm stuff, and christmas care packages, which has been very encouraging for me to see the love that is out there, so thank you everybody that has got involved in any way shape or form.
so what is next?
well we are working on making our cycle event become a reality, and raising the money to buy the bikes has seen the birth of a new plan to try to get them, which readers of our social media feeds will have seen lots of green lights this week, and as such we are very close to announcing our plan, but at this moment i am pretty excited at the response to the idea we have, and as i've said in previous blogs i have set myself the target of getting 300 bikes for this event, and i am going to do my best to achieve this heady goal, and for you guys to come with me on the journey, and to judge me accordingly.
we have also started talking about having a bigmoose festival, which will be a smallish affair, but we are in talks with some people including the cool guys at crafty devil brewing in cardiff to try to arrange this, and will update as plans get confirmed, beer, food, music, simple.
on a personal note i won't be going back to everest this year, but i have some great friends who are, and i am excited to share their journey's vicariously, and if i'm honest with some envy, as i would love to go back to this magical part of the world, maybe next year.........
two of my friends returning to the hill are the inspirational tim medvetz and amputee charlie linville who are hoping to summit, and finish their documentary they have been producing, with the help of oscar winner freida lee mock, and they have a kickstarter campaign which is pretty cool if you want to have a look or even support if you wish, check it out here.
i hope you guys are all as excited about '15 as i am, and if not maybe you can join us and we can get excited together, as i hope that bigmoose can continue on our journey to leave this world better than when we found it.
if you are up to anything you think will inspire bigmoose folk, no matter how big or small please get in touch we love hearing and sharing your stories.
have a great week, and here is to a happy healthy '15
and as bruce says, i'll be seeing ya,