Happy, happy news! Ice Hockey will be back in Teesside next season! As you could read here, I love my Ice Hockey! However, what they will be called who knows?
The back story. A few years ago I began my first venture into the world of Britiish Ice Hockey by watching my, then, local team, Billingham Bombers. In that time, I saw some fantastic games and even a championship win. It really helped pick me up, watching a hard working successful side, all of which were from the local area. Especially as Boro at that time were struggling.
After watching them for a couple of years, the unthinkable happened. The team folded. They folded due to the arena, Billingham Forum, closing their ice rink off for a major 2 year refurbishment.
So having 2 years off, people moved on. I personally resorted to going up to Newcastle to watch the Elite league Vipers to get my hockey fix, but I never quite grew towards them as I did the Bombers.
Anyway going into this season everything changed again. After a long battle with finance and rink issues, the Vipers folded, which left me thinking, where was I going to go to watch hockey? I refuse to watch Whitley Bay Warriors.
Yesterday, an announcement was made by the Forum that it would be opening its doors again at the beginning of June. Also an announcement that their would be a hockey club playing in the Forum next season! I was excited. However, it is not quite as plain sailing as getting my old team back.
Around the time that the Bombers folded, a team was set up in Newcastle called the Northern Stars. Many of the Bombers players went up to play for them. Now after their rink, Metro Radio Arena, has announced that it is not continuing its ice, they need a rink. So the clubs will merge.
I personally think this is a good thing, we have a town and a newly refurbished ice rink (and a lot of hockey history) that need a team, and a team that has a very developed junior and senior level teams with no ice or any real link to any community (and more importantly a league status). I think this is a good idea for all concerned and bringing hockey back to Teesside is a great thing. It won't be of the level of the Vipers (and sometimes there wasn't much in it) but what I lose in supposed quality I will gain in savings, not only in ticket prices, but in travel as well.
So you could say I am excited. However, the thing that is bugging many people, especially the die hards, is the name. What are they going to call this team? Billingham Bombers (the traditional name), Northern Stars (the current team name) or is it going to be an amalgamation of both names for example, Billingham Stars or the Northern Bombers? Even could be something totally new? (Dare they call it the Billingham Vipers).
My opinion? (I can give it without losing any journalistic integrity because its a blog. Blogs win!) Well I am honestly just happy to have a team on my doorstep again, they could call them the Rapists for all I care, I would still go and watch. However, I have one request. Drop the Northern rubbish and dont even consider calling it Newcastle, give it a name that reflects the area. It is a team from Teesside so should hold a Teesside name. That gives them 2 options Billingham or Teesside, thats what they must be called.
At the end of the day though, whatever the name or whatever the team, I can't wait to see them. Unless they call it Newcastle.