Martin Smith (2016)

Martin SmithMartin Smith shared his memories of the Manchester Storm team in the 1995-96 season on Facebook

” A little insight on the original Storm team of the 1995-96 season”

Did you know…….

– every training session we would do a couple of drills to warm-up and then we would scrimmage, same teams everyday and play for a trophy that was made was hand made by one of the players but not sure who.

– because the Nynex Arena was used for other events such as basketball and concerts, we would practice at the old Altrincham Ice Rink at 6am. Many of us would take our KIT home and i know for myself and room mate Shawn Byram, we would get dressed in the living room and drive from our house to the rink in our equipment.

-After training sessions in Altrincham Ice Rink Cafeteria and we would have breakfast made by the most wonderful lady named Rose. Some days the majority of the team would sit telling stories and visiting for a few hours afterwards.

-I think the “Giants” basetball players were jealous of our popularity and crowds we would get because they weren’t always that friendly.

– After every home game we would go to the Cathedral Arches across the street for food and drink and talk to supporters.

-Lee Sharp of Man United was a round our team a bit and one day we got him dressed in KIT and showed him how to skate. He took a few of us out for lunch afterwards and later that week he invited us to watch the Man U training. It snowed that day and we were allowed to watch their practice as it was at their indoor facility.

Here are some things on each player as i remember them

John Lawless – Coach – Candian – Wease as he was called was a legend in the sport. Loved to joke around but if we were playing bad would let us have it. For the team we had, he was the perfect coach. He let us play. His sytem was basic but he allowed us to be creative. He valued our input and suggestions and thats why our season was a complete team effort. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity Johnny gave me. I later played 2 seasons in Telford with John as coach.

John Crawley – Equipment manager – First class, i knew John from year before with Trafford and always gave me advice. I am not surprised at all at where his career has taken him today. He was always there when you needed something and was the voice of reason.

James Manson (Defenceman)- (Manse) was a young British or as he would tell me Welsh player who wouldnt back down from anyone. Played tough and had offensive skill as well. Always wanted to get better and one of the last players to leave the ice.

Nick Crawley – (Forward) (Nicky) british player, unreal speed, great team player and would do anything to help you out. Also one of the few players who would dance if we went to a night club and he had good moves on the dance floor.

Colin Downie -(Goaltender) British – well we all know goalies are a little different and Colin had his quirks. Great team guy, loved to laugh and joke around, on the ice was one best British goalies at that time. Was also out on the dance floor with Nicky .

Mark Pallister (Defence) British defenceman, arguably the toughest player in the league but hands down the funniest off the ice. His stories had teammates crying with laughter. Pally would love hearing me resite quotes from the movie “Major League” Pally was fun to be around and had aheart of gold.

Dale Jago – (Defenceman) Canadian – Jigger or Jages , Boom, boom , boom…….whatever you like to call him was the also one of the story tellers on the team. Any movie you bring up, he could act out a scene. He could sure be a grumpy fart when he wanted to be, but what i liked about him was his fierce competitiveness. He hated to lose and did whatever it took to win. I believe Jages would have high sticked his own grandmother if it meant winning. We all know he had one of the hardest shots I have ever seen. Jages, Barnsey, Bysie and i would sit for hours and dissect the team on a day to day basis and what we needed to do to win the championship. Jages was always that guy who started the conversation. He made everyone around him a better player. Oh ya, and Jages was cheap…..haha

Jeff Lindsay – (Defenceman) British / Canadian, Our Captain who led by example. I never saw him lose a fight. he hit hard and I played with him his last season and you could see the wealth of experience he brought to the table. He was that calming influence and thats what made him a good captain.

David Smith (Forward) (Scottish) Davey was one of the funniest guys i have met. Loved to joke around and keep the team loose. On the ice he was a speedy forward who was strong on the puck and could score. He wore number 73 becuase that was the year he was born.

Shawn Byram (forward) (Canadian) – Bysie was my room mate, big brother, my centreman and my friend. I learnt so much playing on Bysies line and i know my success as a player and later on as a coach was because of what Bysie taught me. He played games in the NHL and for that i gave him instant respect. Bysie was a terrible sleep walker, came in to my room one night yelling they are shooting at us and told me we had to get out of here. The next morning we realized he had kicked a hole in the wall at the end of his bed trying to escape that terrorists in his dream. Bysie had a saying for everything……a few such as ………”nice kid…..but stupid”, “She is so ugly she would make a train take a dirt road, or make an onion cry, or scare a buzzard off a shit wagon”. Bysie always had the one liners. He also liked to sing but thos who know his deep, deep voice wasnt the best for singing teenage pop songs especially those songs sung by girls.

Tim Dempsey – Defenceman ( British) I had known tim from the previous season with Trafford, along with Houghy and Nicky. Timmy was too smart to be a hockey player. Thats why he left for university in Germany. We called him the Manchester Mauler. Timmy could play forward or defence, wherever he was needed and worked hard. Davey used to call him a dirty natch all the time which would wind him up but all in good fun. Every monday, a package would come from my mom in canada with a video tape of the previous saturdays NHL Game on hockey night in canada. Timmy, Houghy and myself would spend the afternoon watching both games and then Tim’s dad Eugene would make us a chicken stir fry. Tim and Houghy should have been born and raised in Canada when you see how similar they were to canadians and their love for hockey. They ate drank and slept hockey. One other note on Tim’s Dad Euge who passed away a few years ago, he was like a 2nd father to me. He was always there to lend an ear and give me advice and for that i will always be grateful. Also Tim’s older brother Matthew who was always there as well. Him and i used to play Major League Baseball game on the computer which was i am sure was the last video game i have played. As you can probably sense, the Dempsey house was where i spent alot of time.

Alan Hough – Forward (British) – Houghy was a mere 18 yrs old when we were team mates. He had such good skill and size but what stood out for me was his ability to shoot the puck in stride. Houghy would do anythng for you and loved hanging around the older players. We had a lot of laughs. Everyday Tim, Houghy and I would walk in to the town centre (Manchester) after training at Nynex and have lunch. Some time others would join. Houghy, being the youngest, got teased alot but all in good fun and he was a good sport about it. His mom owned the pub in Hale so we used to go there once in a while.

Mark Stokes -(Forward) British / Canadian – As i recall Stokesy was a teacher. He kind of had that grouchy look but was just a front as he was a nice guy. Veteran player who brought years of experience to our club. He centred our 2nd line with Lipper and Davey. Stokesy scored some big goals for us and was a good penalty killer. Because Stokesy was one of a select few who actually had a career away from the rink, we didnt see him that much.

Daryl Lipsey -forward (British / Canadian) – scored over 1000 points in british ice hockey. Lippers parents lived 5 doors down from my parents in North Battleford, Saskatchewan Canada. As both of our dads have now passed away, our mums still live in the same house. As a player Lipper was small in stature and big in heart. It was nothing to see a scrum in the corner and wonder who is that fighting and then Lipper would pop up. Lipper was also assistant coach that season and his experience in British Ice Hockey was so valuable to me especially coming form the same town as him back in Canada. Lipper was the card player on road trips and most well respected players in the league.

Steve Barnes – Defenceman (Canadian) – Barnsey was such a smart defenceman. Different than the others. He slowed the game down and was an unreal passer. Good guy off the ice

Hilton Ruggles – Forward (Canadian) – Homie, Hilts, the poacher………..Awkward skater, faster than he looked but boy could he shoot and score. He made up the other part of our line. Ruggles, Byram and Smith. One of the best lines i have ever played on. Most productive thats for sure. Hilton had a unique laugh and his laughter was contagious. Hilts was always on the phone. You could never call him at home because it rang busy all the time. Every day off he went to Newcastle. Not sure what he did there but always seemed to be on the road. Hilts would give you the shirt off his back. He was in the best shape of anyone i have ever played with but he never went to the gym. Hilts was a veteran and when we got up a few goals on teams, Hilts would say,” I am done for the night……let the kids play” I learned this from him and later in my career would use that same line.

I would have Hilts on my team anyday!!

John Finnie ( Goalie) – British American) – Finner…………there was a reason why they called him Vegas too…….he was always at the casino. Best Money goalie in the league. The back bone of our hockey club. Always made the big save when needed. Now that i think of it, he would walk to town for lunch too, but then keep going to the Casino. Loved Royales night club on thursday nights for 70’s night. He got to wear a big Black afro wig. (Classic) Finner was very patriotic and always talked about how he loved working at 7-11 in Florida and getting to decide what slurpee flavours they sold. He was just great to have on our team in so many ways.

Stefan Barton (Forward) British / Canadian – was a young kid but wouldnt back down from anyone. Won over the Nynex crowd with his tough play. But off the ice was one of the nices guys. Maybe he wouldn’t say it but he looked up to Jago. He used to go where Jages went .

Nathan McKenzie (Goaltender) from Wales- tough situation having 3 goaltenders but Chewey as we called him took it in stride. Was always there when called apon. Nice guy too.

Simon Ferry – Defenceman (British) last but certainly not least………Fuzz was a very skilled defenceman. Quiet on the ice and off. Let his skill do the talking.

I know more will come to me as i think some more, some stuff i can’t put on here. haha. What happens on the road stays on the road…..

One thing i will say is this was a very close knit group. we all got along and made each other better. Easily my most memorable season of hockey.