A Message from Gilly

After six seasons of
involvement in coaching the Widnes Wild, I have decided to step away following
the 2018/19 season. It is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, but with
heightened work commitments, it is something I decided on once we had secured
the league title.

The Widnes Wild has been a major part of my life for the past six years. When I was appointed the club’s first head coach in 2013, the ambition outlined by Matt Lloyd and backing provided by Silver Blades, and later Planet Ice, led me to believe we had the perfect platform upon which we could build something special, and so it has proven. It’s been a privilege to play such an active part in an organisation that has introduced ice hockey to thousands of new people in a new community, many of whom continue to enjoy the game I love today.

Whilst it’s impossible to
thank everyone I’ve come in contact with individually during my time in Widnes,
there are a few groups and individuals who deserve a special mention.

Firstly, I’d like to thank
everyone who’s been involved with the Wild’s coaching and management teams. In
particular, I’d like to mention Mick Caunce, Garry Fearon and Pete Bleackley,
who helped put in place the foundations for the fantastic club we have today
over the first two seasons we were in Widnes, and Ollie Barron, who’s made the
last three seasons the most enjoyable, and most successful, in my coaching
career. Thanks also need to go to Matt Lloyd, who as the club chairman, has
backed every decision that has been made by coaching staff, even when things
might not necessarily have been going too well.

I want to thank every match
night volunteer, whose work means we can put the strongest team possible on the
ice without any concerns, and who put together the most professional
match-night experience we could hope for.

I’d also like to thank every
player who’s ever pulled on a yellow and black shirt. For six consecutive
seasons, we’ve improved on the ice, in terms of league positions and
silverware, even though we set the bar high with a playoff appearance in our
first season. That wouldn’t have been possible without the exceptionally
committed and dedicated players we’ve had, each and every one of whom have
contributed to the Wild’s success today.

Over six years, Widnes has
become a second home to me. Although I live 60 miles away, I’ve felt welcomed
from the first time I walked into the rink, and the support I’ve received over
the last six years has been incredible. So my final thanks go to the #WildOnes.
Whilst the Wild lead the league in virtually every element of organisation, the
supporters are what makes the club truly special. No matter where we travel,
and who we play against, we’re almost certainly the best supported team on the
ice. Without that support, there would not be the success, and for that I will
always be grateful.

Although I am stepping away
from the coaching side, the Wild will always be my club. I couldn’t have hoped
for a better time in Widnes, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve
achieved. I know I’ll be leaving the club in very capable hands, and I look
forward to seeing what the future holds as a fan rather than as a coach,
because I’ll always be a #WildOne.

Thank you all for an
incredible six years. It’s been an honour.

Mark

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