Well that was an experience and a half. Two weeks ago, in what felt like an act of disloyalty I attended Nottingham Panthers vs Sheffield Steeelers. I have recently moved to Chesterfield, Derbyshire, having left London after 10 years. So going to see Panthers (I went to Nottingham University).

But in the last two years I picked up enthusiasm, affection and loyalty to Streatham Hockey Club. It was not expected and it has entirely surprised me.  And for many weeks over the last two years I have travelled down to south London, to stand rinkside and scream, cheer and tweet my way through a game that has completely hooked me. (Twitter @edfordham)

So moving to Chesterfield I decided to keep the interest live and attended the last game of Nottingham Panthers. There was a sort of Birthday excuse for going and it has opened my eyes massively. What did I learn?

  1. There is a massively ticket arrangement and therefore different pricing. From Streatham's £10 to Nottingham starting at £16 upwards. I know which feels more accessible.
  2. The venues are of a completely different size and capacity (and hence the ticket pricing too) but this also changes your experience - it felt much more like I was attending attending a stadium music concert than a sports match. It was that scale that summed up my relationship with The Panthers - amazing wow etc but I felt I was watching a large rock act rather than 'my team'
  3. And so I reflected on the the experience I have had with Streatham - it feels close, personal and immediate. My best mate and I have the same seat each time we attend, it is rink side, there is no-one between us and the glass and the players and it gives us a direct connection with the play, the players and the whole atmosphere of the game. Don't get me wrong - which is the better stadium for capacity and investment and more - it's clearly Nottingham, but for me Streatham means it I am involved in the game and not just a spectator.
  4. The programme and the information you get - one is a dialogue between the club, the players and the fans which has been written that week and printed loyally off, and one is a full on advertising theatre-esq programme of adverts and promotions. Nottingham's is better print quality and design, Streatham's is more personal and real.
  5. And what of the team and players themselves? The first and last I saw of any of the Nottingham Panthers was their arrival and departure on the ice. At Streatham last week I saw Redhawks warming up outside, talking to fans, playing hockey and could them have gone to The Earl Ferrers Pub afterwards.

Now I realise that these all of these are my experience, compounded by my impressions. But equally in the construction of any ambition about a club doing better, bigger things, of moving up a league, in the standard of play these could be considerations. I guess my constant hope for Streatham is that in the ambition to be better and bigger - make sure your fans are kept close both literally and actually.

I'll always be loyal to Streatham Redhawks as the team that got me to Ice Hockey and that hooked me - and when I can I will be at rink side. But as I live so close to the Panthers (and they are not in a competing League) I can self justify myself and stimulate my interest in the sport by attending now and then. Enjoying Nottingham Panthers Ice Hockey occasionally, a Streatham Redhawks fan always.