Recognition at last for ‘The Duke’

Hockey royalty: Tommy Plommer in his prime.
Hockey royalty: Tommy Plommer in his prime.

IT HAS taken more than a decade to organise, but Sheffield Steelers have finally got round to honouring one of their all-time ‘big’ personalities.

Tommy Plommer may have only stood around 5ft 8ins tall, but he had a massive presence on the Arena club for EIGHT seasons. Now he is to have his shirt retired as as a guest at Steelers’ ‘Festival of Hockey’ 20 year anniversary party on August 27 - the day after his own 43rd birthday.

The Canadian with proud Scottish ancestry first surfaced in the UK with Ayr Raiders in 1991. Within a year he’d joined the Steeler revolution, remaining an integral part until 2000.

Plommer was not only one of the most popular players ever with the fans - they loved his almost reckless desire to punch opponents seemingly twice his size - but he was also one of the most decorated.

“The Duke” made 324 appearances for the Steelers scoring 120 goals, (308 points) and sitting out 668 minutes in the penalty box. One of those who played along side Plommer, skipper Ron Shudra, said: “It’s rare when I walk around the Arena now and someone doesn’t mention his name to me. Tommy was one of those players who set the standard for those who followed, his work ethic, the way he played the game, his determination to win and to entertain. He helped us win. Those victories put Steelers on the map. The Steelers are today because of what guys like Tommy did years ago.”

Former team-mate Mike O’Connor added: “Tommy was explosive, unpredictable and a complete headache for anybody opposing him on the ice.

“He had an intensity about him that overwhelmed opponents who may have been more skilful. The Duke deserves his shirt-retirement, it will be a poignant moment for all those who cherish memories of him.”

After joining Steelers in 1992 Plommer was part of the team that won Premier Division promotion, watched by sell-out crowds. He’s remembered for his partnership with Tim Cranston and Les Millie. In 1995 Steelers won a league and Play Off double followed by the club’s first Grand Slam.

In his three remaining seasons Plommer added more silverware. Owner Paul Ragan said: “It’s in recognition of Plommer’s outstanding achievements that we will hang his shirt in the rafters alongside other legends like Shudra, Ken Priestlay, Tony Hand, Cranston and Ronnie Wood.”