Tuesday 28 June 2016

Match Report: Bob Kenyon Memorial Shield

Bernie Snagg and Bobby Hall receive the shield from Sheila Kenyon,
watched by Nicola  Kenyon and Linzi Mitchell (Photo by Bobb Newman)
Bob Kenyon Memorial Shield
Played at Deeside Leisure Centre
26th June 2016 

Blackpool Seagulls 7 
North West All Stars 7  

As soon as I heard that both the Sims twins – Brian and Brice - were going to fly all the way over from Canada especially to be a part of the Bob Kenyon Memorial Shield game that was being arranged at Deeside in honour of the long term Blackpool Seagulls player, coach and manager, it began to hit home to me what an important occasion this was going to be.
The game had been put together by Bob’s son Darryl, daughter Nicola and wife Sheila – and another British hockey legend - Bernie Snagg - assembled a “North West All Stars” team to take on the Seagulls in a match in aid of the two charities that had looked after Bob during his battle against cancer the Christie Hospital in Manchester and Trinity Hospice in Blackpool.
The Seagulls team – reformed in 2012 as a non-contact recreational side – included a host of players from the team that won the English League North title in 1980/81 and 81/82 and then played in the Heineken British League in the 1980s – all under Bob’s guidance and the All Stars team was similarly impressive.
They had separate lines of former players from each of the other northwest clubs ie: Liverpool Leopards, Deeside Dragons and Altrincham Aces - as well as Steve French representing Bradford Bulldogs. Here again, we had players from the 70s, 80s and 90s - coming right up to date with the addition of Steve Fellows who had just won the NIHL Laidler Conference title and play offs with Deeside Dragons this season.     
The game saw the legendary Sims twins - Bruce and Brian -
playing together on UK ice for the first time since 1984
Now I have to say that, as a hockey fan of a “particular vintage”, it was an absolute joy for me to see some many of these old faces back on the ice together – it could have been 1983 all over again! But despite the fact that many of the players taking part were over 50 and some even over 60, you could not say that it was a leisurely Sunday stroll in the park. 

There was a fabulous intensity to this game – you could sense that all the players were really up for the challenge and played with commensurate passion. I am sure that Bob Kenyon would have approved.  But it wasn’t a dirty game by any means, there were no niggly fouls or pantomime fights it was just keenly contested and played on a knife edge from start to finish.

The Seagulls were quickest off the blocks and scored after just 15 seconds with their “import line” of Dave Anthony, Brian and Bruce Sims tearing through the All Stars defence.  The same grouping added 3 more goals before the first break but a goal from Pete Broadhurst (asst Nick Crawley) after 16.50 gave the All Stars – a lot of whom haven’t had the advantage of training and playing regularly together like the Seagulls have been – something to build on in the second period.
Seagulls' player Ivan Danks donated one of his ice hockey
themed  paintings to be auctioned in aid of the two charities
Whatever was said in the All Stars dressing room during the break had an immediate effect as former Altrincham Aces star forward Paul Fleury scored an unassisted goal in the first minute and then added a second (asst Ian McDade) just 4 minutes later to pull the score back to 4-3. Another goal from Bruce Sims – his 3rd of the game – restored the seagulls two goal cushion just over a minute later but a superb solo strike by Liverpool Leopard Tony Martin followed quickly by a goal from Steve Fellows saw the All Stars dramatically take the lead at the mid-point of the game.

A powerplay goal from the Seagulls’ Gary Shearman (asst Hall & Wrigley) on 35.55 – scored while the All Stars’ Pete Winstanley was sitting out a cross checking penalty - restored the advantage and the Blackpool team took a slender one goal lead into the final period.
Now, if you thought that 40 minutes of highly competitive hockey might have tired these “older” guys out, then you would be very mistaken.  The third period picked up where the second had left off and first blood went to the resurging All Stars when a Steve French goal on 47 minutes drew them back on bevel terms once again.   Duncan Wrigley edged the Seagulls back in front once more before an absolutely superb individual goal from Mark Hobson levelled the scores once again and that’s how it remained as the clock ticked down to zero.
The game was played in a tremendous spirit throughout and a draw was definitely the right result, meaning that both teams share the Bob Kenyon Memorial Shield in its inaugural year. Rumour has it that this will become an annual event with an evolving format – so watch this space for more news on that at a later date!
The shield was awarded jointly to team captains Bobby Hall and Bernie Snagg and, in a wonderful gesture, all the players and officials were presented with a special medal to a mark the occasion by Sheila Kenyon, Nicola Kenyon and Linzi Mitchell.
Blackpool Seagulls Team:
Darryl Kenyon – NM, John Dunford – NM, Bobby Hall – C, Ivan Danks, Duncan Wrigley, Gary Shearman, Craig Shaughnessy, Anthony McGeever, Mick Buchanan, Matty Briggs, Warren Shaw, Gary Fearon, Rick Duffy, Dean Chatterton, John Higginbottom, Dave Anthony, Bruce Sims, Brian Sims, Mark Ferraday

North West All Stars Team: Leopards: Bernie Snagg – C, Karl Creamer, Steve Fellows, Laurence Paul, Alan Mortimer, Tony Martin
Dragons: Alan Steele, Richie Amos, Steve French, Phil Kennedy, Gary Shaw, Mark Hobson, Brian Jackson, Gary Holden - NM
Aces: Pete Winstanley, Nick Crawley, Pete Broadhurst, Ian McDade, Paul Morgan, Paul Fleury

MVPs: Seagulls – Brian Sims, All Stars – Mark Hobson
Match Officials:  Lawrence Wright (Referee), Bob Bramah (Linesman), Les Heighway (Linesman)

Stop Press:  At the time of writing, almost £2000 had been raised through match sponsorship, raffle ticket sales, admission money, donations and programme sales. The final figure - with auction items still to be added – will be announced shortly.