Shropshire Star

Telford Tigers boss Tom Watkins proud of testimonial showpiece

Tom Watkins is proud to host a “celebration of ice hockey” tomorrow in a testimonial to mark his Telford Tigers longevity.


Tigers players old and new spanning several generations over almost 40 years will gather at the club’s home in the town centre tomorrow night for the showpiece event to celebrate 18 years in a coach or general manager role.

Watkins, who also spent three seasons at Tigers as a player in the 1990s, is excited for everyone involved to put on a show for the supporters.

“I think it will be a lot of fun for everybody and as much as it is my 17th year with the club I’d like to see it as more of a celebration of ice hockey,” Watkins said. “It’s been a while since we’ve had anything like this in Telford, a lot of good people have put a lot of effort into hockey in general, a lot of players played and been part of this club. We’ve had a lot of success in recent seasons.

“There will be a lot of league winners, former players, current players, it will be a celebration for fans.

“The format makes it more fun, we’ve got four teams, four captains who’ve drafted a team. I think it’ll be quite competitive when the competitive spirit takes over on the ice.”

An array of players from several eras, including members of the popular sides from the 1980s, as well as current staff members of Watkins’ and the head coach’s former players from his time as head coach, will take to the ice.

The format sees four teams, captained by Jonathan Weaver, Ricky Plant, Scott McKenzie and Jason Silverthorn compete in shorter, 12-minute matches before a winner-takes-all final. Watkins will skate for all teams.

“People like myself at 45, or people who are 55 like Karl Creamer, my assistant, Barry Hollyhead, my assistant, we don’t play regularly,” Watkins added. “My elder brother Ben is coming down who hasn’t been on the ice for over 10 years.

“There is ex-Telford played Geoff Lane, who played in 85/86 with Karl, it’ll be easy for the current players but not so easy for these guys.

“I’m particularly looking forward to seeing a couple of players I coached in my first seasons coaching at the club, guys who really made an effort and different and put building blocks in for the more recent seasons, my old captain Tomas Janak, Joe Henry, Daniel Croft, local players like Daniel MacKriel, Daniel Scott from my first season or two and came back.

“My brothers, my son, it really is a good mix of players from across different teams and eras.”

Watkins has prepared his squad for the 2023/24 NIHL season with Tigers as the first team look to improve on last season. Tigers face off next month for the new campaign.

But, for this weekend, focus is on some nostalgia as the club and its fans come together to celebrate Watkins’ achievements spanning two decades. The head coach said: “It’s been a phenomenal run, you know how cut-throat sport can be, I’ve been given time to learn to coach early on, to develop as a person and coach and I’m very proud to have been here as long as I have.

“Equally I’m proud of the work a lot of people do around the community to improve aspects of the area and support other people. It’s more than about a game of ice hockey. I’m very fortunate to be supported by a vast number of volunteers who without them I would not still be here.”

Teams are selling well with some still available and fans can walk in on the night.