JUST months ago, the future of Newcastle Vipers looked in doubt and yesterday, general manager Jaimie Longmuir admitted there were times that he feared the franchise might fold.
Now, the club’s future is a whole lot brighter.
Long, long summer days of sacrifice and slog have ensured the Vipers remain afloat, and poised to start a new Elite League season at Sheffield Steelers on Saturday, with the return leg at Whitley Bay Ice Rink on Sunday (face off 5.30pm).
Before then, the Vipers contest local bragging rights with rink-mates Whitley Warriors – English National League champions – in a pre-season exhibition match at the Hillheads venue tonight (7.30pm).
And with his never-wilting belief rewarded by the “real lift” of a season-long ‘home’ at Whitley, along with the buoyancy brought to the club by chairman Paddy O’Connor and new player-coach Danny Stewart, Longmuir is looking forward to an exciting new chapter in the Vipers’ story.
“The end of last season was a little uncertain and we didn’t know what was going to happen in terms of the venue,” Longmuir admitted.
“But as soon as we got the venue sorted, and with Paddy coming back to the club as chairman, it’s really been a breath of fresh air.
“Bringing Danny in, he’s been terrific to work with and with so many new faces I think it’s given everyone at the club a real lift. It’s an exciting new chapter.
“It was definitely hard at the end of last season but since then it’s been fantastic. Hopefully that can carry on into the season.”
He added: “There were times when I feared it might fold, towards the end of the season you were never sure. Everyone’s been affected by the financial climate across the world, so I was under no illusions we were no different.
“But it’s just been a lot of hard work and a lot of belief to keep things moving forward.
“It’s a lot of early mornings and late nights and a lot of long days, it’s definitely a tough slog, but we’re really lucky that we have a lot of great people involved and we all help each other.
“From myself, Paddy and Danny, the guys in the office and now the players as well, it’s refreshing to see these guys coming in, young and appreciative and hungry to do well.
“When you see that it’s reward for all the hard work. That’s when the belief really comes to the fore and this is why we’ve made this sacrifice.
“Now when you see the team taking to the ice, it makes all of that work worthwhile. We’re definitely looking to the future now, as opposed to looking backwards.
“Hopefully we can build the club up again and really give the fans something they can be proud of.
“I’m just hoping these guys have a great season and that can only be good for the club.”