Manchester Phoenix welcomes Keith Woodcock

Thursday, 12th January 2017

A statement from Neil Morris...

“As we all know, the last 2 years with the Phoenix have been extremely difficult and fraught with problems. We rely on a team of highly dedicated individuals to keep the club running and I have asked Keith Woodcock to join that team in a role directly assisting me. Many of you will know Keith already. I have known him, through ice hockey, for over 20 years, from his days with the original Atricham Aces. He then worked with Trafford Metros, the Altrincham junior organisations and on to the Manchester Storm, including a short term as their General Manager.

“Although now retired, in his professional career, Keith was a chartered surveyor, having dealt with all aspects of commercial property. His last role was as Property Manager of a large electricity utility, running a department of over 100 staff.

“Keith brings a wide experience of ice hockey at all levels and property matters and will provide me with some much needed and valuable assistance in the critical times ahead.”

Keith has this to say on the present Phoenix situation...

“I was born and bred a Yorkshireman and have inherited one of the traditional Yorkshire traits of speaking (and writing) what I mean. I have no training, nor skills in codes and would ask people not to bother deeply analysing what I say looking for hidden meanings — there are none!

“Through all the tribulations of the last 2 years, why has the Phoenix survived? Why has the owner persevered and kept the ship sailing? It certainly isn’t the financial benefit - it’s been a burden for much of its existence. It certainly isn’t egotism - that is satisfied by his achievements elsewhere. It’s because of a love for the game, the club, its fans and its players and a desire to see the Phoenix succeed in a permanent home in Manchester. Let us not forget that it was Neil Morris who stepped in when the original Storm folded, formed the Friends of Manchester Ice Hockey and kept hockey in Manchester going by establishing the Manchester Phoenix (in a large part using his own money) and being instrumental in the development of the Altrincham Ice Dome.

“The dream of a permanent home in Manchester is still very much alive, but the route has had to be changed several times, as numerous unforeseen road blocks have bee strewn in the way. A planning application is only valid for 6 months. The reports to support the application for the Hillkirk Street site, resulting from issues raised by the public, proved a lengthy process and we ran out of time. The Council had always made it known that they would want possession of the site after the initial short lease expired, but it was expected that it would leave enough time for a return on the investment for a temporary rink. After the planning delay, the lifespan of the site is no longer sufficient to give this return. A rethink is necessary and the only option is to get on with the development of a permanent home for the Phoenix while the team plays at an existing facility.”

Tony Hand would like to add...

“This Club exists on a great group of people; the fans, the players, the supporters club and not least the volunteers, who all work together tirelessly week in week out. I am pleased that Keith has joined us to provide Neil with some direct support and look forward to working with Keith in the future.

“I am working hard to establish a squad for the future, but would like to take this opportunity to give my personal thanks to the import players who are leaving us. They have performed excellently for us and I would have loved to continue working with them. Unfortunately, the club’s financial position does not permit that and they leave us with my very best wishes.

“I would also like to give a huge thank you to our British players. Facing difficulties no team has had to face before, they have remained loyal to the cause, giving all they have every week. Ably led by Boother, Ben and James, they will be the nucleus of the squad as we move forward. Thank you so much guys for hanging in their with us.”