Duo forge their name in club’s history

Dave Simms Telegraph Web Tile
Dave Simms Telegraph Web Tile
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We talk of players gone by, in days gone by so much in ‘Steelerland’. Those guys from the dim and distant past.

I wonder if, in years to come, we will talk about the likes of Mark Thomas and Jason Hewitt.

Thomas makes Steelers history on Saturday by making his 463rd appearance for the club, and Hewitt sits just a couple of games behind him.

Thomas overtakes the legendary Tommy Plommer, with only Ron Shudra ahead of him. When talking of the Shudras, Plommers and Cranstons we cast our minds back to what we call the ‘glory days’.

But as Mark and Jason recently reminded me: “Our days have been filled with trophies too – our generation delivered the same as theirs did.”

They are both right as well, and we should remember that.

When Thomas and Hewitt arrived in Sheffield, the Steelers were going through a barren period. Coaches were being changed far too quickly, and the depth of talent was not what the club had come to expect.

Seven years later and these two out-of-towners have become Steelers through and through, and they have also become senior members of the GB National side (both were again named in the next month’s squad for the Olympic qualification tournament in Latvia).

Thomas and Hewitt have also become winners: twice league champions, twice play off champions and double winners.

Alongside Jonathan Phillips, who arrived the season after, these boys have been responsible for giving the Steelers a different face, a different reason to remember the club.

No person will ever forget those initial heroes that arrived in Sheffield in the 90s, and nor would we want them too.

The truth is though that the Steelers have moved on from those days, and there are new flag bearers in the city. Ones with the Steeler also running through their veins, with in excess of 450 games behind them. We should remember that.

This weekend, the Steelers have another two difficult games as they try and claw back the points difference between them and the Nottingham Panthers at the top of the EIHL.

Thomas’s historic appearance will mean nothing if the Steelers return from Fife pointless, a venue they have already slipped up at this season.

Strangely the Steelers enter 2013 with a winning record against their two title rivals.

In six games against the Belfast Giants, the Steelers lead the series 4-2 and against the Panthers it’s 2-2, with the Steelers claiming overtime points in their lost games thus leading six points to four.

The Steelers slipped up in 2012 by not winning in places like Fife, and also dropping more games to Cardiff than Belfast and Nottingham.

The Steelers’ word of 2013 must be consistency. Their playing record shows that they can beat Nottingham and Belfast to a title when playing at their best - they just must play at their best more often.

Steelers are back at the Arena on Sunday, taking on the Braehead Clan – face off at 5pm.