So why Manchester Phoenix, Mark Thomas?

Friday, 8th May 2015

The news that Manchester Phoenix have signed Mark Thomas is not a raising of the bar. It is more a case of flinging the bar out of the window.

This is no run-of-the-mill player, who fancies a few seasons of retirement in the comfort of the English Premier League. No. Mark Thomas is at the top of his game, with many, many years at the top level left to play. I know of at least one Elite League team, apart from the Steelers, who were no doubt chasing his signature. Then there’s that lot in the EPL. It is fair to say he’s a man in demand.

So why Manchester Phoenix? When Neil Morris mentioned his name in our weekly meeting, my eyebrows didn't just raise. They nearly fell off. I suspect fans across the league – both EIHL and EPL - were equally surprised. Isn't this the club that is supposed to be scrapping for the tit-bits that other teams don’t want? You know – given little chance of winning anything next season? That is perhaps a tad harsh, but none of us expected a player of this calibre. Look at the other signings, however – Stephen Fone, James Archer, Robin Kovar. None of these guys won EPL title in 2014 by falling over the blue line. And they were outstanding in reaching two major finals last season.​

So back to my main point – why Manchester?

Mark is, by all accounts, something of a local lad, with a young family in the area. Less travelling will have been a massive attraction. Then there’s the support. Manchester fans always have a place in their hearts for all former players. Even Andre Payette... Well, sometimes. So he can expect a great welcome from the Phoenix faithful.

And finally? The future.

Plans for a new 3,000-seater arena, in the city centre, will be a draw for any player. Manchester is, remember, one of the busiest, most exciting cities in the world. Who wouldn’t want to be at the heart of that? Mark Thomas does.

So forget about chucking the bar out of the window. I don’t even think it exists anymore.

Jim Piper

Press Officer

Jim Piper

Phoenix Press Officer Jim Piper
(Image: Richard Allan)

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