The Future is Wild
For the second week in a row I was in attendance at the Widnes Wildâ€™s home game. Sunday saw the eagerly anticipated visit of northwest rivals Deeside to the Silverblades ice rink. There was a large crowd too backed up by the traveling support that made the 40-minute or so trip down the motorway and over the bridge from Wales.
This match was supposed to be the Wildâ€™s home opener but with the rink in Widnes not quite ready back in September that date was switched with Sundays. Nonetheless and inspite of two different seasons so far for the teams there was barely a seat in the house.
For the Widnes fans there was promise from the 6-1 defeat. A poor second period from Wild saw them loose their discipline and organisation on the ice and as the penalties rose so did the score line. However 5v5 the Wild showed they could compete with a well established and drilled outfit in the title chasing Dragons.
It was tough physical game like a local rivalry should be and the Wildâ€™s performance will please Chairman Matt Lloyd even though the score will not. Before the game I caught up with Matt to talk about the Wild.
Whilst happy with how the first season has gone with some of the best crowds in the Laidler Conference Lloyd is looking to the future and has outlined a 3-year plan.Â Within that time he wants the Wild to be in the Moralee Conference playing the long established big teams of the National League North such as Blackburn, Billingham, Whitley Bay and Solway and competing. But not content with that Lloyd has his sights sent on the newly announced Laidler Conference Playoffs for next season.
It is an ambitious target but with the club established and rink completed Lloyd is confident of building on this seasons team and achieving that aim.
The Wild though are much more than just a team and a short term one. It is a credit to discover that much of the behind the scenes volunteers that run the match nights are locals and even new to the sport. Lloyd is keen to stress the importance of the community in the Widnes Wild and hopes to bring that community on to the ice through the junior set up and into the first team. It will be a long process but the team and Lloyd are in it for the long hall. In a small way that may already be paying off with over 18 juniors on the books despite having a lack of ice hockey coaches available and the senior team only beginning playing in August.
The Wild are not about to become world-beaters overnight but they do have in place a structure that will allow them to be a strong side within the National League. 3 or 4 years is ambitious to go from a new team to a competitive Moralee Conference team. Certainly I would expect that with the backing of the community the team has, a completed rink a bit of extra time to build a side next seasons Wild will be a different animal and the days of being underdogs in their own rink could be over.