A Message from Gilly

After six seasons of involvement in coaching the Widnes Wild, I have decided to step away following the 2018/19 season. It is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, but with heightened work commitments, it is something I decided on once we had secured the league title.

The Widnes Wild has been a major part of my life for the past six years. When I was appointed the club’s first head coach in 2013, the ambition outlined by Matt Lloyd and backing provided by Silver Blades, and later Planet Ice, led me to believe we had the perfect platform upon which we could build something special, and so it has proven. It’s been a privilege to play such an active part in an organisation that has introduced ice hockey to thousands of new people in a new community, many of whom continue to enjoy the game I love today.

Whilst it’s impossible to thank everyone I’ve come in contact with individually during my time in Widnes, there are a few groups and individuals who deserve a special mention.

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who’s been involved with the Wild’s coaching and management teams. In particular, I’d like to mention Mick Caunce, Garry Fearon and Pete Bleackley, who helped put in place the foundations for the fantastic club we have today over the first two seasons we were in Widnes, and Ollie Barron, who’s made the last three seasons the most enjoyable, and most successful, in my coaching career. Thanks also need to go to Matt Lloyd, who as the club chairman, has backed every decision that has been made by coaching staff, even when things might not necessarily have been going too well.

I want to thank every match night volunteer, whose work means we can put the strongest team possible on the ice without any concerns, and who put together the most professional match-night experience we could hope for.

I’d also like to thank every player who’s ever pulled on a yellow and black shirt. For six consecutive seasons, we’ve improved on the ice, in terms of league positions and silverware, even though we set the bar high with a playoff appearance in our first season. That wouldn’t have been possible without the exceptionally committed and dedicated players we’ve had, each and every one of whom have contributed to the Wild’s success today.

Over six years, Widnes has become a second home to me. Although I live 60 miles away, I’ve felt welcomed from the first time I walked into the rink, and the support I’ve received over the last six years has been incredible. So my final thanks go to the #WildOnes. Whilst the Wild lead the league in virtually every element of organisation, the supporters are what makes the club truly special. No matter where we travel, and who we play against, we’re almost certainly the best supported team on the ice. Without that support, there would not be the success, and for that I will always be grateful.

Although I am stepping away from the coaching side, the Wild will always be my club. I couldn’t have hoped for a better time in Widnes, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve achieved. I know I’ll be leaving the club in very capable hands, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds as a fan rather than as a coach, because I’ll always be a #WildOne.

Thank you all for an incredible six years. It’s been an honour.

Mark

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