Emotions ran high during the Manchester Phoenix vs Basingstoke Bison Quarter Finals game on Saturday 28th March. The J Davidson sponsored ‘Men of Iron’ were determined to put on a show in light of player-coach Tony Hand’s final home appearance before he retired. With a shot at the championship on the line, the home side had plenty of incentive to leave it all on the ice rink. Despite a valiant attempt, the ‘Men of Iron’ lost out at a close 4 to 5.
Hand played an influential part in the game, setting up two goals and reminding the crowd why he was the first Briton to ever be drafted into the NFL. He made his debut at 14 on the 20th September 1981 against the Fife Flyers. Hand scored his first point against the Billingham Bombers on the 17th October 1981.
From humble beginnings, Hand charted a 34 year career and cemented himself as a hockey hall of famer. Other accolades involve him being awarded a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to ice hockey in 2004. He was also named head coach of the British national team in 2011. On his retirement Hand expressed a sense of calm. “When you are a professional, you just get a feeling about when it is time.”
J Davidson stepped into sponsor the Phoenixes 3 years ago after the previous sponsor pulled out. Scrap metal has a place in hockey history – in 1932 a man from Toronto named Don Munro built a model for the first table top hockey table using scrap metal. He carved hockey figures out of wood and laid the foundations for a popular offshoot of the game.
As a scrap metal processor we wanted to follow Munro’s example and support a game full of energy and history. We will continue to aid the team in the hope it produces and nurtures players of the calibre of Coach Hand.
Phoenix might have stumbled in Saturday’s match but they picked themselves up for the player-coach’s emotional farewell presentation. The head coach of the British national team was awarded a special shirt adorned with the J Davidson Scrap Metal Processors logo. It was followed by the announcement of the number 9 being retired in his honour. Acts of camaraderie like this make us honoured to sponsor such a resilient team.
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