1995-1996

John Lawless (Coach Cardiff Devils) was approached at the Premier League Play Off Finals in March 1995 to lead the then unnamed team. Soon he would be joined by player/assistant coach Daryl Lipsey and the team would be called “The Manchester Storm”.  The very first game for the team was against the Sheffield Steelers at a pre season tournament in Milton Keynes.

Pre season tournament tickey

Ticket for the first ever Manchester Storm game. Image courtesy of Mike landers

Storm’s first competitive game was in the 1995 Benson and Hedges cup. The first opponents were the Telford Tigers, the game was played in Telford on August 26th 1995, and the Storm lost by 6-4.  It was the return game against Telford that saw the Storm make their home debut at the Nynex Arena. 10, 034 people watched the teams battle it out on September 15th, saw twelve goals and the hooter blow with a final scoreline at 6-6. In this first competition Storm had struggled to overcome not only the problems of starting a new team from scratch … but also the fact that two of their “import” players had not been available.

Manchester Storm play Durham Wasps

Storm vs the mighty Durham Wasps in the B&H Cup

Storm’s regular season started on October 1st with a 6-2 win over the Dumfries Vikings in British League Division One. The Storm hardly looked back after that, losing only three more games in the rest of the season. Crowd numbers grew and grew … culminating in a massive crowd of 16, 280 on February 21st 1996 to see the Storm beat the Blackburn Hawks 11-3.

The Storm topped the League with a massive 99 points from 52 games. Goals for 539 … goals against just 185.

Dale Jago, David Smith and Paul Fleury

Dale Jago, David Smith and Paul Fleury from the season one squad

In the end of season promotion play offs Storm topped their group to win a place in the Premier League. It was an impressive start to a new franchise.

(Liam Sluyter’s book “Seasons to be Cheerful” tells the full story of Season one ..pick up a copy via Amazon.co.uk)