Living the Dream

Since starting to play hockey in 2005, it was always my ambition to play on a frozen pond. Due to the UK climate, I always thought that I would have to spend a winter in Canada in order to skate on a large expanse of frozen water in the great outdoors, never in my wildest imagination did I think I would fulfil my ambition in Gedling! Christmas 2010 proved me wrong.

After several days of below freezing weather, the pond at the disused Gedling Colliery had become frozen solid. Now, let me tell you now that I do not recommend skating on frozen ponds after a night of severe frost, it’s very dangerous and don’t do it! This was a different situation, several days of below freezing temperatures had left the pond frozen solid to the bottom, plus some friends had been skating on it during the week so we knew it was safe.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve myself and several friends travelled to Gedling to play some open air hockey in freezing temperatures. A snowfall in the night had left a light covering on the surface, making skating difficult but it didn’t matter, we all skated around without a care in the world thinking we were in Ontario, Canada rather than Nottingham, England. Here I was skating outside with the breeze hitting my frozen face, it was like nothing I’d ever experienced, a truly exhilarating feeling.

After a bit more skating around we got into teams to play a game. It was very ‘Mystery Alaska’ except we were using Sainsbury’s ‘Bag for Life’ shopping bags as the goals! No matter though, we played as if it were the Stanley Cup final and skated hard, however that maybe had something to do with fighting the extreme cold. The sun was setting and our time on the pond was growing short.

As the light faded we decided to leave, promising to come back in between Christmas and New Year, however the weather warmed up slightly and the thaw started. We never made it back to Gedling Pond during the rest of the festive season, but none of us who were there that day will ever forget how we lived the dream.


5 Responses to “Living the Dream”

  1. 1 Adam C July 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I knew after skating on the pond for a couple of days with some guys in different hockey circles, this was too good for Jono and friends to miss. While it may be a poor mans Canadian pond (and a lot more dangerous too) the exhilaration, I imagine, was just the same, regardless of the location.

    There is something about playing the game the way it was intended to be played, a far distance removed from playing and training on the Panthers pad and even farther removed from how far the game has progressed to its current state in the NHL. It’s hard to put my finger on the feeling, exhilaration and freedom are the two words I can muster up to use, but even those seem to lack the ability to articulate what I mean and how it truly felt.

    I can’t speak for the others, but all the anxiety and worries of falling through the ice (of which there were many!divas overshadowed as soon as I took my first stride, and by this point they, weren’t forgotten, but they were pushed to the back of my mind. I’m pretty sure that if we could have, we would have stayed out all night and only gone home for food and water (and a quick warm up).

    As stupid as it sounds, it reminded me of playing out with my mates in the summer holidays and not going home until the last ray of sunlight had turned to dusk, making the moment last for as long as possible. I guess it boils down to playing a pure version of ice hockey, the kind where you put your sticks in, the sides are picked and the puck is on. Playing for the love of the game in the best arena that the world could offer us.

    What is special about that day is that we all seem to refer to ‘the pond’ when we all get together, proving that something as simple as playing sport outdoors with good friends is an experience that will never be forgotten.

    Looking back, it makes me insanely jealous of people in colder climates who can just lace up and skate, practice and play whenever they want and I’m sure I’d be a better player for it if I had that opportunity. I’m just extremely grateful we all had the chance to to play what we joked was ‘The Nottingham Winter Classic 2010’.

  2. 2 Fiona July 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    What a lovely story! You conveyed your emotions so well I was feeling it with you.

  3. 3 ted July 13, 2011 at 5:09 am

    My only problem is i will probably never get to do that again. It was amazing and really happy to have been able do it. Like Casey said, there was something so natural about playing outdoors, you just don’t get that playing out of the Nic!

  4. 4 Stuart July 13, 2011 at 10:31 am

    What a lovely day that must have been Jono! Have to agree, there is nothing like skating – and playing hockey – outdoors. It is an absolutely exhilarating experience. I remember one Canadian saying to me once that skating was ‘the nearest thing to flying’. I particularly knew what he meant the first time I managed to achieve my own ambition of playing for fun outdoors.

    I have been fortunate enough to play and skate on a few ponds and lakes in Canada and also in such unexpected areas as school car parks with the snow piled up in surrounding banks to make a rink.

    Perhaps my most memorable time was on Wabamun Lake in Alberta thirty miles from Edmonton. All fears of collapsing ice were allayed when a large truck drove past us on the ice! We cleared off a rink and the obviously quickly-frozen ice was as smooth and clear as glass. Even the fish underneath the ice could be seen swimming around, what a beautiful experience!

    It’s a shame that you didn’t take a few shovels or makeshift snow clearers over to Gedling as it would have made your skating experience even more enjoyable. Maybe you could have done with one of these! In Canada they clear the ice surface of snow before the action starts – that’s often mom and pop’s job before the kids get to it!

    Just one more thing. I clearly remember a few Panthers aficionados from way back in the ‘eighties I think writing an account of an outdoor pick up game they had elsewhere in Notts. I thikn it was south of the river somewhere. It would be interesting finding that and compare your experiences.

    Keep your stick on the ice bro!


  5. 5 William R Wilson December 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    HEY JONO-you just lived the life of ALL KIDS IN KINGSTON, who skate on ponds all the time, in winter,including Jody & Brock.I will have more to give you & your fans to visit this city-known as the BIRTH PLACE of HOCKEY in CANADA. Thanks MY FRIEND! MR WINK

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