Telford Titans ice hockey club forced to quit
A Shropshire ice hockey club has folded weeks before the start of the new season after an exodus of players and coaches.
Telford Titans have pulled out of the National Ice Hockey League because of fears they would be unable to fulfil their fixtures in the league's northern division one.
Seven players have left the club over the past two seasons due to the strain of amateur players being asked to travel as far afield as Dumfries in Scotland and Whitley Bay to play league fixtures. The Titans finished bottom of their league last season, winning two and drawing one of their 28 games.
A request by the club to drop down a division this season was blocked by league officials due to the temporary axing of promotion and relegation.
Coach Paul Shuttleworth said the team's overheads cost more than £19,000, which included rink hire for training and matches and bus hire for long away trips.
He said the team was threatened with fines last season for putting out small squads for away games, and said some of the coaching staff had left in recent months.
He said dropping out of the league had been one of the "hardest decisions" those involved the club have had to make – but he predicted the club would have almost certainly folded mid-season had attempts been made to continue.
The news was announced on the club's official Facebook page, and the players received an email from team manager Jenny Roden on Friday. Mr Shuttleworth said league chiefs had been notified.
The club, which was formed under its current guise in 2007 after the temporary demise of Telford Tigers, held open trials in late July with the intention of fielding a team next season. Mr Shuttleworth said: "One of the problems was player availability – Sheffield was our nearest trip and players with day jobs were being asked to travel for several hours to places like Dumfries.
"We finished bottom last season, players were having to pay their own fees and it ceases to be fun. It cost just over £19,000 to keep the Titans on the ice last season, and the club management, coaches and players felt it would be impossible to fulfil our fixtures this time around.
Centre forward Paul Davies had been planning a sponsored 221-mile roller skate from Aberystwyth to Skegness to raise money for the Titans, but has now postponed it and will complete in in the future for a charity.
Mr Davies said: "We heard rumours about the club folding on Thursday and then I received an email on Friday confirming them. It's desperately sad."
The 27-year-old said he had played for the club only for one season after moving back to his home town Shrewsbury from Bristol.
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