Here Im in the train heading back home and have been in London for the weekend. Living in Chesterfield you need to find reasons to be in London and then justify it. There were a few events, friends to see... but then the Ice Hockey semi-finals and a chance to see Streatham Redhawks at home.

Now I'm not a sports fan, but Ice Hockey has become my game of choice - indeed the only sport to which I pay any meaningful and sustained attention.

 

So I'm at the end of my second season as a fan I thought I would look back and and see what precisely have I learnt:

  1. Streatham RedHawks are my team of choice, the others in my totally unbiased eyes should lose and Streatham deserve to win. Yes, I'm as blind as the next person to failings of my team and cannot see the merits of other teams.
  2. There are points in the game if Ice Hockey when it stops, or starts or a whistle is blown and I haven't a clue quite what is going on. Yes, I have been enjoying the game, loving the pace and understanding when a goal is scored (the crowd go wild) but despite attending and watching, I confess I just don't know the rules.
  3. As a result of attending the games, buying and reading the programme, following twitter i now know the first names of most of the leading Streatham players and can now scream their first names when they are close to goal and in a chance of scoring. Yes, I found myself out of my seat last night screaming "Go on Joe!" As Number 11, Allen, skated past at speed.
  4. Streatham are in The NIHL South Division. I know there are other teams, other leagues, even bigger and better leagues. But frankly I know next to nothing of them and as Streatham isn't in any of them I haven't even attempted to find out what they are or where other teams are from. My Ice Hockey fandom has been Streatham, Streatham, Streatham.
  5. The world of Ice Hockey is clearly bigger than Streatham - but unless they play for Streatham, at Streatham, in front of me when I'm there, I realise that I don't know if there are other big hitters in the league, in the UK, in junior teams or anything frankly. My understanding of the world of UK Ice Hockey is woeful, limited and has no insight of the future and the potential for Streatham let alone any other new player coming along.

So what precisely is going on for me? I've done what I thought was never possible, have turned to a sport, found a team, enjoy the games and am being drawn further in. As someone who is active on Twitter (@edfordham) and Facebook (Ed Fordham) I have developed an insight based on the social media fans and players as well as the formal accounts of the Teams themselves.

But I realise that having now paced my enthusiasm, by not reading the rules, by not reading the fan and web blogs, by not buying the club year book and more, I find that I am now falling behind in knowing how the game builds, survives and recruits.

So what has changed to make me realise this? Today, literally today, Joe Johnston (17) and Liam Rasmussen (26) retired from Streatham. In the two years I've been following both these players have been pillars of the team on and off the ice. They have added skill, leadership, quality and passion. And at the very point I have got fired up about this new interest, they are moving on. And so as I left Streatham Ice rink last night, near hoarse from screaming the team on, I realised that I could be one of those very old lags who remembers Johnston leading the team in his final match at home.

I have had a great first two seasons, but if I'm going to keep enjoying this it's time to go up a gear. And so I will, in the next few weeks and months, start to build my enthusiasm and my new found passion into a more informed understanding of Streatham Ice Hockey Club, of Ice Hockey in the U.K. And yes, even the rules of the game.

See you next season. #Redhawks