Toby Clark – Feb 2018

“I only later cheered up after being told the Phantoms players had a wee in the cup before the second leg and I’ll never forget the sight of Lightning players drinking out of it after winning !”

So when did you first get involved with Peterborough hockey and what was it that got you hooked ?

“2002 was my first year of ice hockey, I won some tickets at an auction at the pre-school my son Josh went to for the first game of the season against Isle of Wight. I took along a mate and watched the game having absolutely no clue what was going on …… it finished 2-2 and it had a frantic ending. As the buzzer went I thought oh is that it …… no overtime or anything ?

I then kept coming to home games and the idea of us being the big fish with all the money was new to me as I was still going to watch Posh under Barry Fry and that was awful. So from supporting a little team to supporting the best team in the league and with money (as per Man City today) was just superb. There was always a fight and it was the local guys playing for a local team that really got me hooked.”

You always seem to have one role or another on match nights so, for those who know little about what you do, run us through a typical game night.

“Match night for me starts with picking my Dad up from his house one hour before face off, getting to the rink, parting with £4 cash on 50/50 and shirt off your back tickets and then it’s off to find Irene (Amos) to ask where I am needed on this particular night. My role can be anything from goal judge to clock or penalty box attendant !

Then its a cup of tea with Dad and a chance to chat with him about family affairs and ice hockey. If I’m goal judging, I have to then make sure I have pens and the game sheet off Derek, then I take a seat behind the goal at the zamboni end of the rink and enjoy the game from the best seat in the house !

First and third periods, Phantoms are shooting towards me so I need to carefully concentrate on where the puck is which is quite a skill as you have to watch the puck and not the players to see if a goal is scored or not and it is all very fast ! At the end of each period you have to let the match night scorer (Chris Burbage) know how many shots the goalie has faced in that period.

If I’m doing the clock, I have to make sure it actually works and is securely plugged in, set the time and then again concentrate on the game making sure the clock stops when the referee’s whistle is blown. When a goal is scored or a penalty is awarded, I have to tell the match night scorer the exact time it happened.

For running the penalty boxes, you get another good view of the game from the opposition bench area and you just wait for a goal or a penalty. If a goal is scored, the referee will come over and tell you who scored plus the two assists and then you have to communicate that to the match night scorer and the announcer. If a penalty is given, you just make sure the player stays in the penalty box until the time has expired …… counting down the seconds until they are set free !

A couple of weeks ago, I even did the live stream game commentary which was a lot of fun and I never knew how much went into that to allow people to watch on TV …… it really is amazing !”

So going back to those early Phantoms days in 2002, who were the players that first grabbed your attention and made an impression on you as a new fan ?

“Jesse Hammill, Antti Kohvakka and James Morgan were the players I remember most from when Phantoms first started ……. hard hitting guys who played with passion and showed it on every shift. Duncan Cook was just awesome as well.”

Never easy to define who was the “greatest” but, in your time, who were the three players who you look back on as being the best whether that be most skilled, most exciting, best character, etc or all of those things ?

“The three best players I’ve seen here are Taras Foremsky, Brent Gough and Nathan Rempel. Gough and Foremsky just clicked from the start and set each other up for fun …… they tore the league up and were just amazing to watch. Rempel just oozed class and was the tough guy forward you just needed to have on your team. Rempel also had the worst OCD ever with every stick needing to be exactly like the others to the millimetre and his sock tape had to be exact too ……. a real character on and off the ice. Must also mention Joe Miller for a lot of fun times on and off the ice !”

You must have been part of some fantastic hockey nights at Bretton ……. what would be your most memorable game here and why ?

“My favourite game was the second leg of the EPL Cup Final (2004) against Isle Of Wight. Jesse Hammill slid in and poked home a goal late in the first period and, after winning away in the first leg, this just about finished Raiders off and the cup was heading to us. After watching Posh win nothing for years and years, my team had finally won a trophy and were the cup winners. I loved that night !

Winning the treble in 2009 was fun and Isle Of Wight, again, for the away game and the beach party ! Winning the league title on the ferry back to the mainland was awesome. Beating Guildford in the EPL Cup Final at Bretton was a superb night too with every player fully on it and amazing ……. then off to Coventry to seal it all against Milton Keynes was just so sweet !

Must mention my Phantoms Academy Under 15’s team beating Milton Keynes 33-0 last season was a real p*ss take !”

….. and what about any low points ?

“Doug McEwen’s last game …… I just thought so what the hell are we going to do now ?!!! Missing out on the play-offs 2005/2006 was just awful with Romford gloating all over it ! Losing 10-0 in the 2003 EPL Cup Final First Leg away at Milton Keynes was really bad. I had the flu and left Milton Keynes rink with eight minutes to go, was sick outside the rink and sick all the way home. I only later cheered up after being told the Phantoms players had a wee in the cup before the second leg and I’ll never forget the sight of Lightning players drinking out of it after winning !”

Moving up to date …… how do you feel about this season’s transformation to NIHL hockey and how do you think it is going for the club ?

“This season is poor. The opposition are just bad in most games and it’s nowhere near what we have had for the past ten years or so but I’m glad we are in the NIHL and not the Elite League as playing so many midweek games is just not us and paying £5 for a bad hot dog in some of these Elite arenas (eg: Nottingham and Sheffield) just doesn’t do anything for me. Playing Belfast away would be fun though !”

What are your hopes for Phantoms in terms of the immediate future ?

“To be at the top end of the league table with a team of players who just want to win and show real passion for the logo and to bring success to us. The academy has some great players coming through so expect a young team who play hard fast hockey. Ross Clarke and Craig Ellis are two players to watch out for plus a netminder in Luke Clark who is just amazing (I have to say that as he is my son but he is good) ! We already have Taylor Romeo, Jack Escott, Brad Bowering and Jarvis Hunt so the future looks good !”

…… and what are your hopes for the broader sport in this country in the seasons ahead ?

“Well it will just tick along with the same blazers and fools in charge of everything and with the EIHA continuing to be weak and useless. I have been to an EIHA AGM meeting and you simply wouldn’t believe what goes on and what they come out with ! It needs a real clear out from top to bottom, starting with kids hockey, for anything positive to be done to improve the sport in this country.”

Last but not least, you are standing outside the rink entrance with a spray paint can …… what are you going to spray on the walls ?


LOL ….. thanks Toby !