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LETTER FROM SHEFFIELD
The owner of a totally imaginary hockey team writes (part 3)
(intercepted by Big Al for Thunderflash)

Dear Ice Hockey fans of Yorkshire

Having seen some complaints from Forgers' fans that I do not communicate very well, I must extend my apologies. I am not a great front man and do not seek publicity, but in the interest of good communications I have decided to make these progress reports a regular event.

The first matter I must turn to is the continuing speculation about my company's involvement with an organisation called the Brain Group, and I hope that I have now managed to convince everyone that the club is currently owned solely by me and my good lady wife. Please believe me that there is no Brain in the Sheffield Forgers at all!

Someone perfectly satisfied with this situation is our most recent addition to the club's management. I am sure that many Forgers' fans will fondly remember Mr Samm Dives, or "Sammsy" as he has been affectionately known. His return is one more brick in the wall of rebuilding the club, and in his new role of organising the club's press and PR he has told me that he can provide his own paper shredder and bottle of correcting fluid. He is also currently working with my nephew Kevin on the pre-match presentation and will once again be the voice of the Forgers on match nights. I am sure fans from all over the country will be pleased to hear his witty and fair-minded comments when they visit us in the Arena.

Mr Idleballs is still working hard to build a team, but unfortunately our plan to recruit asylum-seeking hockey players will not be taken any further. We have recently contacted the Home Office to inform them of our plans, and when we asked if we would be breaking any laws the reply "All of them" made us realise the hopelessness of this course of action. So, we must find other ways to recruit and house our players.

There is some good news here, though. We have received a very generous offer of help from the Hope Valley Caravan Park, who are now ending their normal holiday season and looking forward to having some overseas guests for the winter. I am sure that the gardening, carpentry and light building work expected of the players during their stay there will be a valuable addition to their training programme. There's nothing like good, outdoor exercise, and Mr Idleballs is already factoring this into his training schedules. Also, I feel very heartened by the name of our latest sponsor - we can now say honestly that the Forgers live in Hope for next season.

All we need now is players for the team, and Mr Idleballs is working hard towards this end. We had hopes of keeping the nucleus of the team from last year, although he tells me that it has not been easy to lure players back. Several of last season's squad have expressed their opinion of this matter in no uncertain terms, and while it is a free country I must say that I feel it was a little extreme for some of them to take out injunctions against the Forgers preventing us from having any contact with them at all. However, I am pleased to say that we can announce two signings from last season, both of whom assure me that they ignored all other offers until the situation in Sheffield was resolved so that they could return to play here again. Such loyalty should be rewarded (if not to the same degree as last season).

But, with the start of the season approaching (indeed well past for some other teams) the plea to the fans is still the same - please bring your kit to the matches and you might have a better view of the game than you expected. And fans, please come and support your local hockey team, even if you don't expect to get a game. We must return this team to its former glory, and we can't achieve that without your hard earned cash (and your loyal support, of course).

The new season approaches, and I'm so looking forward to seeing my first ice hockey match. Many thanks to all our sponsors; Mrs Eckersall's Pie and Peas Shop, the Grit Road Convent School, Kwiky Cabs of Rotherham, my nephew Kevin, the Gas Lane Garden Centre, Ron's DIY and now the Hope Valley Caravan Park.

PS Mrs Eckersall will be the match sponsor on the opening night, and will be hosting a players' shirt-signing session in her Pie and Peas shop after the game. So, if you want to meet your players please come along. I look forward to seeing you all for the kick-off.