A noisy protest by a core of Manchester Phoenix supporters known as the Choirboys during Sunday’s 6-3 win over Swindon Wildcats has sparked an online debate.
In-game announcements were drowned out by the Choirboys, who bang drums and chant during games, after they apparently took umbrage at a post on Phoenix’s online forums claiming they can be too critical of the players and had gone quiet during the 4-2 loss to Guildford Flames on 17 February.
Phoenix’s much respected press man Jim Piper, who stood in for regular match night announcer Pete Hagan on Sunday, took to the forum in a bid to end the “bickering” and asked someone from the Choirboys section to see him before the game so “we can see about working together to get the place rocking”.
However, the effort at detente did not succeed and the Choirboys took every opportunity to crank up the noise during announcements of goals and assists, as well as the news that goaltender Jorge El-Hage received the Supporters’ Club Player of the Month for February.
The extra decibels did not go unnoticed, sparking discussion on the Official Phoenix Podcast, while fans took to Facebook, Twitter and the club’s online forums to debate the battle between announcer and unruly Choirboys.
On Twitter, Pete Bradbury, a blogger and member of the podcast team, was unimpressed with the protest, while speaking on the podcast, Nigel McFarlane said the Choirboys were “quite vociferously making a point”.
Some defended their actions, pointing out that the Choirboys have no official links with the club and, as paying fans, should not be expected to necessarily generate atmosphere for the rest of the crowd, be quiet during announcements or refrain from criticism.
However, any tensions between the announcer’s box and the Choirboys’ block appears have bypassed a good number of fans altogether, with many saying they simply enjoyed the raucous atmosphere.
Perhaps most importantly, there seemed to be no ill effects on the team, who secured a big win in the third period thanks to an inspired performance from Joachim Flaten. The Norwegian forward (pictured) produced two goals and an assist in a six-minute blitz to seal the victory.
Manchester Phoenix told CT Sport that the issue has now been put to bed.
“Manchester Phoenix Ice Hockey Club would like to express that the situation has been blown out of proportion and have dealt with the issue internally. All parties that were involved have drawn a line under the misunderstood situation and will do everything thing they can to support their club in this weekend’s double header,” it said in a statement.
“We pride ourselves on not censoring what our fans say, whether on our official social media platforms or others, as their views are needed to help us get even better both on and off the ice, whether it is praise or constructive criticism.
“We are all looking forward to making the ice dome THE place to be this weekend.”
Phoenix will be hoping for plenty of noise from the home support – and plenty of goal announcements for the home team – when they attempt to overturn a 6-4 aggregate deficit against Guildford Flames in the EPL Cup semi-final second leg on Saturday before second place Basingstoke Bison come to Altrincham on Sunday.
By Andy Jowett
Pic: Rai Pekkanen