The owner of a totally imaginary hockey team writes (part 6)
(intercepted by Big Al for Thunderflash)

Dear Hockey Fans of Sheffield

A Christmas Message from the Sheffield Forgers

Well, hello all and I'm sorry if it's been some time since I've written but the pressures of running a busy ice hockey club weigh heavily on the owner. Besides which my good lady wife has just started a jam-making business which has also been making demands on my time. The good news is that this now gives us our latest sponsor, and the "Forger Jams" logo will soon proudly be worn by the team. There have already been some unkind comments about how it's thick, full of big lumps and far too expensive, but I will not hear criticism of my players like that.

Some good sponsorship news is very welcome, following Mrs Eckersall's recent decision to withdraw her Pie and Peas Shop's sponsorship. I had not been expecting a down-to-earth soul such as Mrs E to use the kind of language I recently heard from her, but apparently the "market positioning" provided by sponsoring the Forgers does not meet with her regular customers' "demographic profile" and "purchase expectation" and she feels that she is not achieving sufficient "product penetration" with the Forgers' fans. To put it simply, Mrs E does not like having her shop filled with young ladies drinking mineral water and clustering round the players after the match, keeping her regulars from the Steelworks out of the shop and away from her Meat and Potato Crusties. She has therefore informed me that she will be discontinuing her sponsorship immediately. I would like to thank her for her support to date.

Well, it's been a roller-coaster of a season so far, although not quite what I was led to expect when I bought such a successful team as the Forgers. Mr Idleballs still insists that things would be different if I allowed him to spend as much money as he did last season, but I have told him repeatedly that the Forgers' coffers are not bottomless, even if the ISL don't notice how much we're spending (something Mr Idleballs feels confident of). I am still determined to return the Forgers to their former glory, and once again I am making a plea to all fans to get behind the team. Your loyalty and cash can make all the difference.

I am looking forward to the match against Moscow Dynamo after Christmas, but I do find it surprising that one of Russia's leading football teams would want to come over to the UK for a kickabout with an ice hockey team. I would have thought if they wanted a friendly match that Manchester United or Chelsea might have been more appropriate. However, it will be nice to see a football match again - after all, football has been my main interest for many years now.

With careful coaching by Mr Idleballs, Brant Bicker and Sharon Rud I am now beginning to get some grasp of the rules of the game, although I sometimes wonder if the same can be said about the referees. I must defer to wiser heads than mine on the matter of enforcement of the rules, but I am informed that the standard of refereeing in the League does leave a lot to be desired. I know that I had problems in the early days, such as shouting for a goal-kick if the puck went behind the net, but even with my limited experience I can see that there are problems. Since the season started I have written several letters to the Chairman of the League on this matter, and am looking forward to his reply.

In closing I would just like to wish all true Forgers' fans a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Parents - remember if you're not sure to get your children for Christmas, some family tickets to the Forgers are always welcome.

Here's hoping we all have a successful and profitable 2002. The only way is up!


Letters five, four, three, two and one are still online