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"Hope Springs Eternal"


Noun – A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Verb – Want something to happen or pay for research paper be the case.

As the hockey season begins, that feeling of expectation, that want for success, sits deep in the belly of our stomachs. But out of your control.

You don’t pick the teams, you don’t pay the wages, you don’t call the plays. But blindly you put your hope, your emotion and your trust in YOUR team.

The twists and turns of the season drag you through the mire of your faith. The team will delight and frustrate you in equal measure. But through it all the hope remains. Your own mind sets the targets, your understanding of the game builds your belief in what is achievable. Your eyes witness what is on offer and your voice delivers the joy, encouragement, grief or disdain dependant on how you feel YOUR team have performed.

Yet, again, you never pay attention to the fact that it’s out of your control!

The game attacks your emotions, yet you find yourself drawn back to it. A passion in your faith for YOUR team. The quest for success. From the elation of a win, home or away to the eruption of joy for a goal no matter what the circumstances. Each action builds or destroys your hope.

Less than 10 games remain in the quest for the Elite Ice Hockey League. The levels of hope vary through hockey towns across the UK. But the excitement builds none the less.

Not least in the East Midlands, a team not deprived of success, but wholly ridiculed for decades by one number. 1956.

Year by year their hope began to build higher and higher. Year after year belief shattered time and again as the formula for league success evaded the patrons of Lower Parliament Street. Hope has stood alongside frustration, stood by anger, stood by desperation to stand atop of the tree and finally resign the number 1956 to the history book from whence it came.

As each game this season has ticked by, with sparkling performances, goals and victories, the rest of the league has looked on. In times gone by as the Panthers stood on grounds of league failure, other teams felt a means to hold that stick and beat them with it. The affluent financial muscle of Neil Black’s organisation falling short and giving hope to others who take on the quest for success.

A cycle of capitulation became comfortable for many across the league to believe in, many in Sheffield and beyond to wallow in, as the familiarity bred the contempt of the Nottinghamshire faithful.

But not this year. Hope has reached levels unthinkable in years gone by. But it can only stand as nothing more than just that.

And while hope brings excitement, it draws the unlikely bedfellow of fear. Sport is unpredictable. That is why it attacks the emotions. There are games to be played, twists to be undertaken and opponents to overcome.

Belfast are the reigning champions, and the closest rivals in the quest for the title. And in the grand theatre of sport, it will be Belfast who can twist the story in a means to draw gaze from all fans of the sport. Speak to anyone about the title race and two games are thrown firmly into view. A gauntlet laid down prior to the feast of St Patrick.

These games have been billed as the deciders, the games that will make or break the hope of those that follow the Nottingham Panthers.

Belfast are used to this, last year they won the title by lifting the same gauntlet and striking it across the face of the Sheffield Steelers. But the situation was different then. Belfast were in the ascendency. Today they stand at the tail of the Panthers, forever tapping on their shoulder to remind them that hope can still be taken from them.

Game by game the numbers crunch. The permutations are discussed and the possibilities are debated. Many still fear a prediction of success. While others stand in resignation of what they believe is inevitable, uneducated by unpredictability of sport.

There are less than 10 games to be played. Hope began in September. Many still have it, some don’t even recognise it such is the immense nature of possible success. Others fear it.

For Nottingham, it’s not just success they crave. It’s an end. It’s a vindication. It’s the day the number 1956 can be cast aside.

But it hasn’t happened yet. It may not happen at all.

Because the fans can’t control what happens.

All they can do is hope.

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