INTERVIEW: Chris Preston
Chris Preston speaks to us about his life around the game which has effected his life.
Chris found his way into the sport by sheer chance as heâ€™d accompanied his father to work the day that he was laying carpets in the housing which had been provided for Canadian imports playing in Blackburn at the time, the Imports spent time speaking to Chris, telling him about the game and had left him with a burning desire to watch a game, atleast.
After instantly falling in love with the fast-paced sport and spending the season watching Blackburn Blackhawks, Preston was looking to get into the sport and started a beginners class at Blackburn where they were building an U10â€™s team, with a lack of players within the age group, Chris had to play in the U14â€™s team where, in the first game which was a defeat, heâ€™d scored 2 of the 5 goals for his team.
“I played my first EIHA game when I was 16 for the Blackburn Hawks at Whitley Bay. Whitley Bay has always had a fearful reputation and the arena was packed. The home crowed was banging the seats and I knew it would be a rough game but once I found my feet, I settled down. It was a massive confidence boost and moments like that really build your confidence. I played a few more games for the Hawks until I was 19. I left the juniors and was about to start my basic training for the Army but an injury put an end to that and I needed several operations.
By chance my mum was out shopping when she saw a former coach of mine Bobby Haig, who was also the coach of the Hawks. She told him I had never come back to play after my operations and he said I should give the Blackburn Falcons (Recreational Team) a go to get me back into hockey.
Once Iâ€™d settled I enjoyed I was enjoying time with the Falcons and being a young lad I enjoyed the way the team was at that time and how it fitted with my social life I had outside of the sport.”
As Preston had already seen, a playing career can take a turn at any time and with the birth of his first son it did just that;
“After Iâ€™d had my first son my life was in a different place again. Mark Ward who was a former coach approached me about playing for a new league team where he was head coach, Lancashire Raptors. Firstly I played 1/2 a season for them then played the next two seasons in full. In those two years I scored 26 goals and getting 44 points and being made captain. Unfortunately one game into the next season a situation had come about which made it time for me to move on.”
After leaving the Raptors, a return to Falcons was a clear decision as it worked perfectly with his life as a Husband and Father;
“My first game back with the Falcons we were beaten badly by Bradford 13-3, but I could see that we had potential within the team. We had the right players we just needed to play the right systems. Once I started putting my ideas for playing systems into place the team instantly turned around and we now had ambition and a growing confidence.
Recreational level has a real mixed range of teams. Some of the teams are complete beginners while some such as Kingston Cobras who were a team that we really aspired to be like, had some excellent players who had played at the highest level of British Ice Hockey and went about things with an envious professionalism.
Within my first year back with the Falcons I was made captain and we went on a huge winning streak. Mid-way through that season, by playing the systems I had implemented we knocked out one of the countryâ€™s best rec teams in a high standard tournament held in Hull to make the final. By the end of that season we made the summer cup playoff finals and topped the year off by beating an ENL team. The next year we built on that success and set our aims to become the UK’s top rec team by this year and earn an invite to the highest level rec tournament in Europe so we can work towards the aim of becoming one of the top European Recreational teams by 2014. I had an amazing two & a half years back with the Falcons and leaving the team wasn’t a decision I took lightly. They have just won a national tournament in Sheffield against fourteen other teams, without me and former falcons team mate and current wild team mate Filip Supa by playing to the systems and the team spirit that I brought in.”
Preston impressed through continuous weeks of trials and it was clear after a couple of sessions he would fit into the team perfectly, with a decision made it was only time before the deal was done, and announced online. And, a decision which Chris seems very happy with;
“What Widnes have on offer here though is fantastic. I really want to be part of it and this is definitely the place for me. I love the set up, I love the ambition. I trust the people I have decided to join, I have known Mick & Gilly for years but the main thing is, Mick is the type of person that will never allow himself to fail and If I am to move on from a winning team I want to go to somewhere ran by a person who shares my desire to win games.
I am also very impressed by by Silver-Bladesâ€™ ambition to grow the sport of hockey. When I saw what the plan was for hockey at Widnes, and who was involved in running it I knew I wanted to be part of that team. My eldest son is playing Ice Hockey and has just started playing in goal where he is proving to be a natural between the pipes. My youngest is also showing an interest by playing with my other sonsâ€™ first hockey sticks around the house.
Playing for the Wild and everything it has to offer, it’s a chance to make my lads proud and really inspire them because playing hockey as a child has made me a far more confident adult.”
Weâ€™re looking forward to seeing Chris Preston in competitive action, and would like to send a warm welcome his way.