Rugged Dunkability

A slightly different article from Paul this week as he discusses topics from readers ranging from hockey haircuts to iconic games missed to biscuits!

Another year, another league title gone but are we downhearted? Of course we bloody well are and if anyone thinks that this article is going to change that then they can’t have read anything I’ve written before. I could have gone off on a rant about it all and if I’d been writing this on Sunday night then I probably would have done, but then people would just have said that it was because Sheffield had won and we hadn’t and that wouldn’t have been the case. It was more about somebody else had won and we hadn’t but I’m getting off topic. I’ll probably still write that article, I think it needs to be written but I’ve decided to give them a week, two if it goes well before I return to what you might think is my favourite topic – Panther bashing. But that all meant that I had to write something this week and I thought I’d open it up to you, my loyal readers to ask me questions of a more light-hearted nature. Or to put it another way “it’s all your fault” (where have I heard that before?) Stick around to the end as I’ll be tackling some big issues and making some pretty bold statements. Don’t just skip to the end though you’ll miss at least one embarrassing revelation.

OK, let’s get this started with this from Andrew Turnbull: “Worst haircuts of British ice hockey from 1981 onwards”. What a great question to kick things off. I don’t know where to start. Part of that is because the combination of ice hockey and the 1980s (the decade of the bad haircut) throws up so many examples. I’ve wracked the brain cells and trawled through the memories and for some reason I’ve come up with a bit of a North-East theme.
If you think about the 80s and ice hockey there’s one haircut that is always going to spring to mind and that’s the mullet. You know the one I mean, short on the top and sides and long at the back. Quite why it proved so popular I’ll never know but it did. It was everywhere, Mike O’Connor (yeah the same one who doesn’t like CH Sports shirts) had one, Scott Morrison had one and he’s the reason that I can’t watch episodes of Spender anymore or look at Jimmy Nail seriously but that’s a completely different story.

So, mullets were everywhere so what could you do if you wanted something different. You had a perm. This was the 80s though which meant it wasn’t necessarily that simple. There were curly perms, relaxed perms all sorts of perms (there probably still are, I don’t know much about these things). Frankie Killen didn’t choose any of those though he went for a Top Perm which meant that only the hair on the top of his head was curled and the rest was kept short. Sort of like a hairy mushroom. (It’s at this point that I wish I could find pictures, it would make things so much easier). Frankie finished this striking look with the sort of moustache that almost all sportsmen sported in those days.

If you’ve got curly hair then ice hockey might not be the sport for you. The helmet plays havoc with those curly locks and I remember years before John Craighead the likes of Craig Melancon or Dan Dorian skating round looking a bit like a clown with their thick curly hair sticking out the sides of their helmet.
All this means that if the last thirty odd years have told hockey players anything then it’s to keep their hair short. But what if they don’t like the colour or if they just fancy dying it? Remember that fad back at the start of the century for dying your (well, not mine obviously) hair white blonde? Merv Priest seemed to favour that look for a while and his team mate Nicky Chinn obviously wanted to try the same style. The problem was that the dye didn’t work effectively all over and he ended up with a distinctly piebald look.

Hockey players if you’re reading this remember, keep it short, don’t dye it and you won’t go far wrong. OK?
Next up we’ve got a couple of questions from Ian Braisby. His first is: “Famous/iconic Panthers matches you’ve missed?”

There are always those “I was there” moments in every sport. Those times when you witnessed something special or unforgettable. They grow in the memory until they become larger than life, more important than they probably actually were. Those moments are what we go to watch sport for in some ways and give us something to talk about for years to come, but what if you weren’t there? What do you do then? You listen to the others talking about it. I’ve been lucky to have been there for a lot of the big events in Panthers history but there are, off the top of my head, four glaring omissions and they are (in ascending order of embarrassment)

1. Robert Nordmark scoring in Newcastle to ensure we made the play-offs that year. This isn’t that embarrassing really as we got knocked out of them pretty quickly not long after.

2. Challenge Cup final 2014 second leg. This is all Jono’s fault. We’d only got back from his stag do the day before so I was a bit skint and I thought I’d better spend the night at home and I could always go to the play-off quarter final against Braehead two days later. That went well!

3. Challenge Cup final second leg 2004 (I’m spotting a trend here). I wasn’t there to see Kim Ahlroos score to secure our first trophy in years.

4. No beating around the bush. I wasn’t at the Sheffield bench clearance game. There I’ve said it. I didn’t go to possibly the most famous game that Panthers have ever played in that didn’t finish with a trophy. I’ve watched the game, I’ve listened to the accidental commentary but I wasn’t there. I vividly remember my Mum ringing me from the game just after it had happened to try and tell me what she had just witnessed. It was pointless, I couldn’t hear a word because the noise was so great.

So there you go Jono, if you want me to make this my last article I totally understand.

Ian’s second question is about players you had irrational dislike for. It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. There are loads of players I disliked over the years but I had perfectly, at least to me, reasons for that dislike. There were the players who scored important goals against us or, and this is the far larger group, the players that were just irritating. I wouldn’t say I hated people like Ian Cooper, Rick Brebant, Tommy Plommer or Tim Cranston to name but four but I certainly disliked them. They just got up your nose. I’m not ever sure that the old adage about them being the sort of player you’d love if they played for your team because I wasn’t all that bothered about Brebant when he had his one season with the Panthers.

I never liked Pat Galivan and given what he did in Belfast three years ago that sort of seems a bit odd now but I just couldn’t warm to him. If you’re daft enough to go back and watch the Cats Whiskers TV episodes from that season you’ll see me week in, week out switch between whether I wanted to get rid of him or Bruce Graham first. I’m glad we didn’t but there was just something about him that I wasn’t keen on.

That might not be entirely irrational but my dislike of Steve Moria is. Steve was a great player and scored countless goals against us and other teams for Cardiff Devils, he even had a season in Panthers colours but those goals aren’t why I dislike him. The reason I dislike him is his age, or rather how it keeps changing. For the record Steve Moria was born in 1961 but over the years he has continually lied in player profiles about his age and he used to get younger and younger. It used to be quite funny until he said he was born in 1970 which made him, and this is important, younger than me. What had obviously started out as a joke wasn’t funny anymore. How dare he claim he was young than me, it just wasn’t on. He also used to wear a headscarf under his helmet which I didn’t like either. Ok, it worked, he’d still got thick hair when he retired but, I don’t know, it’s just not right.

I know it’ll probably be seen as sacrilegious by some but I never liked Tony Hand. Never liked him at all. OK, he had a huge amount of talent but he could have looked happy about it every once in a while.

David Carnell wants some TV advice: “I’ll be watching the POFW at home, living room is 3x4m & my sofa is approx. 2.5m away from the TV, how big should my new TV be?” Well, basically David you’ve not really helped me much because I’m an old fashioned imperial feet and inches kind of guy but I’ve whipped the old slide rule out and I reckon you’re looking at somewhere around the 40-43” type of size. Obviously if you looking for something bigger then you need to remember that at that size non-HD footage like the POFW is likely to be (if you’re watching on Virgin Media) could get a bit grainy. And if that doesn’t put you off then you should probably look at moving to a bigger house.

Finally Chris Maltby asks “If you could be a biscuit, any biscuit, which one would you be and why?”Se e I told you we were building up to the big questions of the day and they don’t get much more serious than this. We’re talking biscuits and it might sound like a frivolous question but it deserves some serious thought. I could go for something sweet sophisticated and elegant like a Nice biscuit or the rugged dunkability of the Hobnob. Both are worthy choices and there are others that I could have chosen but for me it has to be a Sport biscuit, more precisely the one where they’re playing ice hockey because that’s as close as I’ll ever get to doing that.

You can follow Paul on Twitter @MrBalm

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