What is it like being the wife of a Sheffield Steeler?
Kirsty Phillips felt devastated last Sunday as she watched her husband's team Sheffield Steelers lose to Cardiff Devils in the final of the Challenge Cup.
But flashback 17 years - then it was an entirely different story.
At that time, she was a 23 year old Devils fan, who had no time at all for the Steelers.
Then love came along, in the form of Jonathan Phillips, a young prospect in Cardiff’s ice programme.
He went on to be a player then captain of Sheffield- and the rest of history.
Today, Kirsty reveals what life is like being a hockey wife, mum...and counsellor for a participant in one of the most intense - and at times dangerous sports - in the world.
How did you and Jono meet?
We met 17 years ago, and got married five years ago...he is a slow mover! I used to be a Devils’ fan and we met when he was playing junior, so we’ve been together since the start of his career.
Is being a hockey wife a challenging role?
I guess so, during the season, anyway. Things can change quickly, not just if they win or lose but if there are any injuries. A ‘normal’ wife will have a routine, but when he is playing you wonder about whether he’ll get hurt or what is going to happen in the game.
How do you cope with mood swings after games?
I just know when to back away, when to ask a question and when not. I just let him speak. It is safe to talk about boring things like the washing - or the kids - but I don’t comment on the game.. The kids do - they tell him if they think he wasn’t very good!
Normally, he doesn’t bring it home at all. But on Sunday night he did. I’d got back from Cardiff around 10.30pm (after 3-2 loss) and he got in about midnight. He was talking about what happened to about 1.40am. I just listened and didn’t offer an opinion!
So it’s been a bit a roller-coaster?
Well, when I look back, I certainly never thought in a million years I’d end up in Sheffield! I HATED Steelers, when I was a Cardiff Devils fan.
But last Sunday, I couldn’t stay behind to see Cardiff lift the Cup. We only have two friends left on their team and while I tried to be pleased for them and the fans, I just wanted to go home.
How do you feel when the action gets physical on the ice and Jono is in the middle of it?
A few years ago Jono suffered quite a nasty knee injury - your heart is in your mouth when you see something like that happen. Sometimes if he goes off the ice I will text him to see if he is ok. It’s not easy.
It does seem he gets battered quite a lot, that’s because he goes in the ‘dirty’ areas. He always seems to get hit in the face!
Do you pass on your experience of being a hockey wife to the other wives and girlfriends?
No. Everybody is different and I am laid back, while others are more vocal and deal with it (pressure of the game) more vocally. I can’t go around offering advice and, because of the kids, I don’t socialise as much as I used to.
How important is it that the wives and girlfriends get on?
Very important, yes. If two women don’t get on, it might affect the dressing room as the husbands might get involved and fall out. Luckily, in Sheffield, we’ve never had that.
Will you be glad when the hockey side of your life will be over?
I don’t think it ever will be. Our sons Oshan (seven) and Albie (six) are skating now and I think it will go on through them. Plus I think my husband will still want to be playing even if he is in a wheelchair.
What will Jono do when he has to retire?
He has no idea - and that keeps him awake at night. He doesn’t want to be in an office. He did a bit of painting and decorating with Jason Hewitt a few Summers ago - but who knows?
Questions posed by Bob Westerdale