Standing in the corner of the Cresta Court Hotel conference room taking photographs of the 2016-2017 Manchester Storm team, one player caught my eye.
Other than the wookie that was Eric Neilson, larger than life!
Paul Swindlehurst had been on loan with the Manchester Storm from Nottingham Panthers the season before and had impressed so much that the Storm had made the move permanent.
Now Swindlehurst has never been known for raking in the points, managing just 26 in 129 starts in the EIHL for both Dundee and Nottingham before signing for the Storm. What Swinny does have though is a heart bigger than anyone and he works harder for every inch of the ice than any player you’re ever likely to meet.
This charismatic defender will dive in front of that frozen biscuit and sacrifice everything to stop the opposition from getting in on his goal, Swindlehurst is to hockey what the late, great Bobby Moore was to football.
And it is this fight, this hunger and this passion that I and the rest of the fans and players of the Manchester Storm will miss the most.
I hope the move to the Belfast Giants helps you become the player that I know you can be sir and I look forward to watching you represent the greatest country in the world at next years Championships.
Thanks for everything Swinny.
Feature Image: manchesterstorm.com