Interview with Billy Price

Thursday, 28th August 2003

As with most of the local players signing with the Phoenix, Billy first encountered ice hockey at Altrincham while waiting to go public skating. At the time he was just nine years old and he recalls, “I first saw hockey at Altrincham in 1989 when I saw Nipper (Paul Bayliss) running a training session just before I was due to go general skating, and I knew right there and then that I had to try it. I got my first set of hockey kit for my tenth birthday and the rest as they say…is history.”

Billy, an apprentice chef by trade continued his career path story saying, “I played at under 14,16,19 level and on into the ED1 Team at Altrincham until 1995 when I joined the Blackburn Hawks. I played at Blackburn for three seasons before joining the Chelmsford Chieftains for the start of the 99-2000 season. I spent one more year at Chelmsford before returning to Altrincham where I’ve played until now.”

Having already mentioned Paul (Nipper) Bayliss, it came as no real surprise that Billy cites the long-time Altrincham coach as the biggest influence on him to date. “Paul is a great teacher of the game. He can shout a bit but, that’s the passion for the game in him – all of us at Altrincham have felt the rough edge of his tongue from time to time, but all of us have learnt so much from him as well.”

Along with Nipper, former captain of the Aces, Simon Mills, get a mention in dispatches from Billy, “Simon has been a friend of mine for a long time and having played longer than I have, he’s been something of a mentor to me as well.”

As for a highlight moment, representing his country stands out a mile for Billy. “To be selected to the Great Britain U-20’s was a thrill and to travel to Romania was a great experience. We didn’t know too much about the place we were going and the team winning the gold medal topped off the adventure aspect of the trip. The coaching staff really looked after us and to come home a champion was just a great feeling.”

Most young hockey players have an idol or player they admire more than most and Billy is no exception and he cites arguably the greatest of them all as his number one. “Wayne Gretzky has to be my favourite player from the NHL. For what he achieved, the standards he set and the way he brought the game to parts of the United States that had never before been touched by hockey – I’m not sure anyone else could have done it the way he did it.”

Wayne Gretzky apart from being a superstar in the NHL was also a very humble and modest hockey player and in that respect Billy, like the other local players, is similar when he mentions his ambitions for hockey. “Nothing outrageous really, I just want to enjoy playing hockey at the highest level I can for as long as I can.”