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Raiders ready for new campaign

13:30 05 September 2014

London Raiders player-coach Danny Marshall has made AJ Smith his captain for the 2014/15 season (pic: John Scott)

London Raiders player-coach Danny Marshall has made AJ Smith his captain for the 2014/15 season (pic: John Scott)

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Player-coach Marshall backs new squad to do well

London Raiders player-coach Danny Marshall sees no reason why his side cannot compete with the big three in National League Division One this season.

Raiders begin the new campaign with a home match against Cardiff Fire at Lee Valley tomorrow (Saturday, 5.30pm), having only confirmed their intention to ice a team last month.

Former owner Ollie Oliver stepped down from his role following the shock death of manager Mick Cahill, but a supporters group came together to raise funding and sponsorship to keep the team alive and Marshall hurriedly recruited a squad to wear the gold and blue.

Now he is looking for his men to make their mark and said: “Luckily enough it has started to come together, considering we started so late.

“It was worrying me a bit, but my main guys stuck by me and we were able to make a few more signings to give us more depth and make a bigger impact.”

Cardiff quartet Mike Brabon, Phil Manny, Ross Wilkinson and Stephen Deacon were added to line-up late last week, with import defenceman Vaclav Drabek also unveiled at a Meet the Players event.

Drabek has played over 700 games in his native Czech Republic and joins fellow countryman Jakub Klima on the Raiders bench. He is described as an experienced blueliner with a cool head, smooth skating and great awareness of play who will chip in with points on offence.

Marshall added: “It was a case of were there any players left who hadn’t signed anywhere. These boys have got talent and will bring a lot to the squad.

“Cardiff’s loss is our gain and we just want to go out and take the points, that’s the main objective. We don’t want any stupid penalties.

“We’ve also got youngsters with talent and a lot to prove. If they want to make it in this league, they will get a shot.

“I’m always in it to win it. Isle of Wight, Chelmsford and Invicta might have better budgets but it doesn’t mean we can’t necessarily win things.”

Marshall will miss the first match of the new season due to suspension, with goalie Michael Gray and forward Frankie Harvey also serving bans.

But he is looking to new captain AJ Smith and assistants David Oliver and Tom Davis to play leading roles on the ice.

He said: “The core of the team is still there and know the way I play. A few of the new guys need to step into how we play and it might take a few weeks, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.

“AJ has been around for a few years now and does his job well. When he says something people listen and that’s the best way with a captain. Actions speak louder than words and he knows the game well, has a cool head and can deal with refs and step up when needed.

“Dave and Tom are a bit younger but both have qualities to be captains in future. All three of them will do a job together and work with me.”

Marshall also revealed that long-serving Grant Taylor was taking a year out due to family commitments, while JJ McGrath might help out with some coaching.

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