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It’s a dump, but it’s our dump

PUBLISHED: 17:17 22 March 2013

Sam Park netted Romford Fury's opening goal against Invicta

Sam Park netted Romford Fury's opening goal against Invicta

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Romford Fury prepare for final home game at Rom Valley Way

When I was a kid, a great friend and current Romford Raider would make the same joke every week. As we rounded the corner on Rom Valley Way and the rink came into view he exclaimed in mock awe: “There it is, the home of hockey!”

In the grand scheme of things, Romford Ice Rink is not the home of hockey. It’s an ugly, outdated building that suffered a severe fire almost a decade ago. But for me and many others it has been a kind of home from home.

I will tape up the sticks and lace the boots against Invicta tomorrow (Saturday), in what will be Romford Fury’s last ever game at the rink before it closes in April.

There won’t be any fanfare or ceremony, it’s an amateur league game after all. We’ll have the usual huddle of die-hard parents, bored girlfriends and the ubiquitous man and dog known to accompany low league sport. It will however, be emotional for some players, myself included.

Those of us that have played for Romford for a long time and come up through the junior system will no doubt spend the pre-game routine reminiscing about memories we have and friendships we made in our time at RVW.

I don’t think anyone will shed a tear, but we’ll definitely use the situation as motivation to go out with a bang, especially against Invicta.

They beat us in our season opener and have become a bit of a derby in recent years. Whatever happens won’t result in any love being lost between the two teams.

Looking at the bigger picture, I worry about how many of the talented young players at the club will have to give up the game altogether, unwilling or unable to travel to another team. Even worse, how many of them will be forced to defect to the ‘dark side’ and play for our bitter rivals Chelmsford (I joke; I’d obviously prefer them to carry on playing than quit, even at Chelmsford…just about).

Playing ice hockey teaches kids a lot.

The values of the game become part of their personalities and put them in good stead for getting ahead in life.

They learn to work hard, work in a team, to strive for continual improvement. They learn to be brave and most importantly to never give up even when things aren’t going their way.

It’s a shame that for at least two years until a new rink is built, the children in Havering and beyond will miss out on getting involved in this great sport at this great club.

On a personal note I’d like to say that I’m proud to have been a ‘Romford boy’.

I was proud every time I wore a Romford shirt, proud of every goal, proud of every assist, proud of every win and even proud of the character sometimes shown when we lost.

Most of all, when players from other clubs would complain that our rink was a dump, I was proud to reply: “Yeah, but it’s our dump.”


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