THE longest serving coach in the English Premier League, Milton Keynes Lightning’s Nick Poole, received a special honour as supporters celebrated the end of the club’s 10th anniversary season.
Calgary, Canada, born Poole was given a giant framed photograph of himself in action for Lightning by chairman of the supporters club, Dave Bunyan, to mark his long and loyal service to not only the senior team but the junior sides as well.
He thanked the coach for his loyalty to the club through ‘thick and thin.’
Poole, who has made Milton Keynes his home, has been Lightning’s player coach since their inception in 2002. Indeed only Elite League Coventry Blaze’s Paul Thompson has been coaching longer in this country.
Quite where the framed photograph will end up is unclear. Poole’s wife, Andrea, was heard to joke: “He can hang that up in the garage!”
Fans were in high spirits despite the team missing out on all three pieces of silverware this season.
Poole said that while the team were disappointed not to have won any trophies, he did not believe that they were that far away from doing so and he would be working hard to ensure a competitive squad was put together for next season.
General manager Vito Rausa was unable to attend due to duties in Philadelphia, United States, but he broadcast a message for the fans saying he was as upset for them that they did not get to the Coventry play-offs.
Rausa then left the audience on tenterhooks in a final video in which he proceeded to announce the first new signing for the next campaign – only the important points such as the name of the player, his former club and record were deliberately blanked out!
In the event no player signings were announced – as has been the case in the past.
The player awards saw Lewis Christie pick up two honours when he was voted best defenceman as well as taking the coach’s prize for his commitment which was ‘never ever less than 100 per cent.’
Supporters club award winner was captain Adam Carr while the most improved player was Ross Green, a product of the club’s junior system.
Another former city junior, Leigh Jamieson who is due to marry fiancée Janine this summer, pipped Blaz Emersic for top points scorer.
Poole said Jamieson had been a ‘revelation’ after switching him from defence to the forward line this year.
There was a prize for Emersic though – he claimed the most valuable player accolade with the players’ player award going to goalie Alex Mettam. This was voted for by his team mates.