What History Has Taught Me

The 1994/95 season in the British Premier League was a classic. The Panthers team that year was coached by Mike Blaisdell and included the likes of Rick Brebant, Paul Adey, Ross Lambert, Garth Premak & Chuck Taylor. British stalwarts such as Simon Hunt, Randall Weber & Matt Trickett and youngsters Ashley Tait & Marc Twaite in the early days of their senior careers.
These were the days when home games would see 3,000 people squeeze into the old barn while 9,000+ would regularly watch the Steelers at Sheffield Arena.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, this was the last season where we found ourselves clear at the top of the pile in January. That season we had gone unbeaten in the league until a 9-8 defeat at Sheffield Arena in early January, but held the lead right up until the final weeks of the season before the worst kind of conclusion, defeat by the Steelers at home in the final weekend as they clinched the title ahead of us. I’ll leave it to Kim Williams to explain from her excellent Panthers History article, The Great Divide:

“I still feel sick thinking about that night. The game exploded before a puck had even been dropped, with players from both sides involved in a scrap during warm-up. Once the real action begun, Panthers suddenly looked like the side that had been so convincing for much of the season. By the half way stage of the game, Panthers led 5–2 and the championship seemed on again.

However, the enormous talents of Sheffield’s Ken Priestlay were not going to be denied. From thereon in he almost single handed took control of proceedings. Soon 5–2 had turned into 5–7. Panthers managed one last goal but Priestlay, and the Steelers, were to have their night. Sheffield triumphed 8–6, clinching their first title and ending Nottingham’s hopes in the most heart rendering and devastating way possible.”

I was out of the country when that game was played. I remember phoning my mate and saying “Give me good news” for him to reply “We lost 8-6”. I managed to say “oh” before replacing the receiver with a very heavy heart. Although I didn’t experience the heartbreak of actually being there, it didn’t make it any less of a bitter pill to swallow. The title was ours for the taking and we spectacularly blew it, much to the mocking delight of our bitterest, hated rivals.

Now, 18 years later, we find ourselves in a similar position league wise, at the top where it is ‘ours to lose’ according to some. I see our position at the top of the league and it’s like going back those 18 years. Panthers are currently the favourites for the title, that much is certain, however the pain of 94/95 sill sticks in the mind, it can’t be eradicated. As much as I want to be excited about our current position, I don’t want to get too carried away, believe me it will be easier to take if it all goes breasts skywards! You see, the Steelers worry me, more than the Giants do. They currently have the momentum and we still have to face them four times. Of course, a win on Sunday (and Saturday come to that) will allow me to breath a little easier and smile a little wider (OK, a lot wider).

Obviously if I was told I had to put a large amount of money on who would win I’d place it on the Panthers, but there’s still a long way to go and I’ll still try to keep emotions under control until it’s decided one way or another. History has taught me that.


1 Response to “What History Has Taught Me”

  1. 1 Alan Coulthard January 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Like Kim, I am also nervous Jono. No league title is ever won in January. Conversely, it can be lost (if this makes sense!) All we can do is take one game at a time. The next one is the most important.

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