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Billing making best of fresh start

PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 January 2014

Glenn Billing (left), with former Romford teammates Sonny and Charlie Phillips while on England under-16 duty

Glenn Billing (left), with former Romford teammates Sonny and Charlie Phillips while on England under-16 duty

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Former Romford youngster enjoying life in Swindon

Romford’s junior ice hockey players were forced to find new clubs when the town’s Rom Valley Way rink closed its doors last April.

Although the senior Raiders team have remained on ice at their temporary Lee Valley home, the club’s youth teams disbanded.

But some of those youngsters are still enjoying playing the sport, including former Shenfield High School pupil Glenn Billing.

The 16-year-old has moved away from his family home in Ongar to play in Swindon and dad Peter says he is relishing the challenge.

“Glenn was very lucky in having a number of offers following the Romford closure,” said Peter.

“We chose the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Swindon as the best one to further his career. It was also the only one that could offer the amount of ice time he was enjoying at Romford.

“Glenn moved away from home and lives with a billet family in Swindon. He trains everyday on-ice and off-ice with the Academy whilst attending Swindon New College where he is studying A-Levels in Biology, Psychology and PE.

“He is playing for Swindon Cougars (under-18s) and the Wildcats (National League Division Two) and also trains with the EPL Wildcats.”

Billing appeared twice in pre-season for the EPL side and again just before Christmas against Basingstoke, while leading the scoring for the under-18s (7-14-20-34) and second string Wildcats (8-10-9-19).

“He is loving every minute of his time in Swindon as its hockey 24/7 and as it says on the side of the Okanagan bus, he’s ‘living the game’,” added Peter.

“We were all very sad at the closure of the Romford rink but we were determined to turn such adversity into opportunities.

“We think we have done that with his move to Swindon. However, we’re sure that if the Romford rink had not closed then Glenn would have still wanted to be in Romford playing for the Buccaneers and Fury and hopefully Raiders.”

Goalie Denis Bell has also thrived since leaving Romford, originally with Haringey Racers and more recently with Milton Keynes Thunder.

Bell faced 67 shots in a 4-1 defeat against Danny Marshall’s Raiders and was boasting a save percentage of almost 90 per cent for the basement boys going into the Christmas break.

Jack Cooper (9-1-1-2) and James Hall have settled at Alexandra Palace with Haringey, alongside several members of last season’s Romford Fury, while Max Gerstein (4-0-1-1) is making an impression with Lee Valley Lions and Olegs Lascenko (12-13-2-15), Seb Downing (12-1-2-3), Jake Sylvester (7-1-0-1) and goalie Sonny Phillips (2.80GA, 90.48% save) are representing Chelmsford Warriors with distinction.

England junior internationals Brandon Ayliffe (7-11-6-17) and Callum Wells (7-3-2-5) have helped Chelmsford under-16s enjoy a strong first half of their season, while Jon Binder (3-0-0-0) is now wearing Peterborough colours.

Meanwhile, Matthew Hamilton (7-0-2-2), Soloman Smith (5-1-2-3) and Charlie Cullen Hatch (2-0-0-0) have all decamped to Slough under-18s and Louis Borg (5-0-1-1) is with Lee Valley under-18s.


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