Pitchley’s all-time favourite Raiders selection produces a bigger squad and surprises

PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 June 2020

Grant Taylor faces off with the legendary Tony Hand, of Manchester, in the 2009/10 season

Grant Taylor faces off with the legendary Tony Hand, of Manchester, in the 2009/10 season


Ben Pitchley made the small matter of 582 appearances in a Raiders jersey over the course of 15 seasons, claiming various honours.

Andy GillonAndy Gillon

The Great Britain under-21 international defenceman won the English League Division One South title in 1997, English Premier League play-off crown in 2001 and EPL Cup in 2002 and 2005, finishing with 219 points (59 goals, 160 assists) to his name.

As such, he had plenty of names to choose from when it came to picking his all-time favourite Raiders roster, naming four line of forwards instead of the usual three.

And there were a few surprises along the way, with Andy Gillon (‘a great teammate, funny, could make everyone laugh’) chosen to share goaltending duties with Finn Mikko Nurminen.

Rob Stewart, Adam Collins and Shaun McFadyen got more votes on the blue line, alongside Craig Britton (‘a solid defenceman, played hockey the Romford way’), James Grimstead (‘ex-Romford junior so understood the club, smart defenceman’) and current Raider Jack Cooper (‘Turning into a really solid defenceman, I can see him breaking my appearance record’).

Craig Britton (pic John Scott)Craig Britton (pic John Scott)

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On offence, 47-year-old Pitchley named Rich Tomalin, Danny Marshall, Jon Beckett, Timo Kauhanen, Gord Jeffrey, Jason Rushton and James Duval, in line with some previous nominations.

But the current Romford Junior Raiders head coach also picked 504-game home-grown Grant Taylor, saying: “‘I loved playing with this kid, funny, great in the room and could hit like a train. Not afraid to drop the gloves when needed, and cannot recall him losing many.”

And there were spots for Swede Freddie Ytfeldt (‘only player I’ve ever seen outskate an icing call, shame he was only here for half a season’), Matty Turner (‘really smart hockey player, could’ve played at a higher level if he wanted to’) and Rom Valley Way cult hero Tari Suwari (‘bled gold and blue, would do anything for the club, larger than life character and allowed you to play a little tougher and bigger’).

Freddie YtfeldtFreddie Ytfeldt

Ben Pitchley’s Raiders – Goalies: Mikko Nurminen, Andy Gillon.

Defence: Shaun McFadyen, Craig Britton, Adam Collins, Rob Stewart, James Grimstead, Jack Cooper.

Forwards: Rich Tomalin, Dan Marshall, Jon Beckett, Timo Kauhanen, Gord Jeffrey, Grant Taylor, Jason Rushton, Freddie Ytfeldt, James Duval, Jaakko Komulainen, Matt Turner, Tari Suwari.

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