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It's great to be back home in Romford with Raiders where it all began for me

PUBLISHED: 08:00 14 September 2019

Raiders players at Stubbers ready for some paddleboarding (Pic: Raiders IHC)

Raiders players at Stubbers ready for some paddleboarding (Pic: Raiders IHC)

Archant

As hockey returns to Romford for the season so do I, back where it all begun for me as a junior player and a fan of the team.

One raft on its way down as the Raiders tackled a raft building challenge at Stubbers (Pic: John Scott)One raft on its way down as the Raiders tackled a raft building challenge at Stubbers (Pic: John Scott)

It has been two-and-a-half seasons since I last played for my hometown team and a lot has changed in that time including the league being restructured twice this summer being the latest.

The National League is the challenge ahead, one which I'm personally very excited for as I have enjoyed coming up against some big names in British hockey and big-name clubs - even in the last two seasons.

Now it means coming up against plenty more, including the best teams from the north and that was a huge factor in my decision to return.

I always like a challenge and thrive off being tested, but in general I think this season will be very exciting and extremely competitive throughout the league.

Raiders fans should be excited for a better standard of hockey this season with the teams that will be visiting the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre.

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The squad itself is coming together after a few weeks of training and a team-bonding trip to Stubbers where we tackled team activities, including trust exercises and time challenges.

Not forgetting the paddleboarding and raft building exercises where every player ended up in the water countless times!

That day bonded the team together more and everyone now knows their roles ahead of the new season and is raring to go.

Everyone in the room is pretty determined to prove the critics wrong as most have pin-pointed us as one of the basement teams.

One of the best ways for us to do that will be by making the Sapphire a fortress with the fans' help, just like back in the Rom Valley Way days.

I grew up watching a hard working team with noisy fans who made opponents not want to step on the ice and I'm confident that can play a part this season if we can adopt that mentality.

We also have youth on our side as the league's youngest team, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage by using speed and determination.

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