A quick update on how things are going in Sheffield:
Sponsorship - while we are still hoping to interest some major local concerns I am happy to announce our first sponsor. I feel confident that Mrs Eckersall's Pie and Peas Shop of Coke Street will benefit from the deal, as will the team in its association with such a prestigious organisation.
Coaching Staff - we would like to thank Sister Mary Assumpta, the coach of the Grit Road Convent School hockey team, for her kind offer of help until a full-time coach could be found. She assured us that while she doesn't have any formal qualifications in ice hockey coaching she has seen all the "Mighty Ducks" films at the pupils' Saturday club. However, we have had another offer from a Mr. Mike Idleballs who has great plans for the squad. He has already shown me his planned player list, although I must say that the projected wage bill of £630,000 is a little excessive, in spite of his assurances that he was allowed to spend that much last year.
The Team - As yet we don't have many signings, but I feel confident that by the opening match we will be able to field at least a short bench (if we have a bench to sit on, but equipment is another matter). However, if any fans out there have ever played ice hockey, please bring your kit along to the first match. Who knows, you could be playing for the Franchise.
Obviously we'd expect anyone who wanted to play to have some knowledge of the game, and to ensure this every applicant must pass a simple test. You will be shown pictures of an ice hockey player, a fireman and a large lump of wood. If you can recognise the ice hockey player, you're in (although anyone who mistakes the lump of wood for Paxton Schulte will be given a second chance).
And as you can see, we still don't have a name for the team. We will therefore be running a competition for all fans to think of a new name - first prize a meal for two at Mrs. Eckersall's Pie and Peas shop (pickled egg included). Rumours that we are going to call the team "The South Yorkshire Franchise" so that if it changes owners again it will be able to keep the same name are definitely not true.
Uniform - we don't have an official uniform designed yet, but Sister Mary Assumpta of the Grit Road Convent School has helped here as well, by lending us the hockey team's yellow vests, so at least all the team will be wearing the same colour. For fans wishing to wear their team's colours, we have purchased a job lot of similar yellow vests from our local Army and Navy store. These will be on sale, price £19.99, at the first home match. That's still cheaper than last season's replica shirts, and with a decent profit to the club as well.
Housing - our overseas contingent will, of course, require housing, so if any fans out there have a luxury flat, spare bedroom or even a warm potting shed available during the season we would like to hear from you. Fees will be negotiable, but I can assure everyone who houses an overseas player of at least a voucher for a free meal at Mrs. Eckersall's Pie and Peas Shop (Monday to Thursday lunchtimes).
Cars - we are still hoping to close a sponsorship deal for players' vehicles, but fortunately Kwiky Kabs of Rotherham have stepped into the breach to provide transport in the meantime. Their reduced mileage rate is indeed a generous offer, and they assure me that the clause in their contract stating that all journeys must include a detour via their Rotherham office is a Department of Transport requirement.
Match presentation - the local multimedia companies have all quoted us very long time scales for production of a pre-match show, and so we have engaged the services of my nephew Kevin, who comes to us with considerable experience in hospital radio. He's locked himself away with a video recorder, some ice hockey films and a copy of "Now That's What I Call Music 16", and I'm sure the results will be worth watching.
To sum up,
I think great progress has been made in putting together the South Yorkshire
Franchise, and I look forward to seeing plenty of fans at the opening match
(bring your kit).
Many thanks to Mrs. Eckersall's Pie and Peas Shop, the Grit Road Convent School, Kwiky Kabs of Rotherham, my nephew Kevin, and all those unsung heroes without whom next season would not be possible.
A Big Al fantasy for Thunderflash