The Sheffield Steelers Supporters’ Club began in 1991. Founded by Hayley Roach and Tim Brimble, it went on to become the largest ice hockey supporters’ club in the UK.
Hayley Roach worked as a volunteer in the Steelers office when the team was founded in 1991. Working on ticket promotions, she was the first port of call when the team needed someone to give their 8000+ base of fans a focal point and was soon joined by Tim Brimble, who worked for Ward’s brewery and distributed tickets to their many employees.
Tim and Hayley soon had the largest Ice Hockey Supporters’ Club in the country under their wing, between them working out benefits and getting fans signed up, organizing away trips and social fund-raising events, before forming a committee and between the two of them writing the constitution which, with a few amendments over the years, the current committee still works to today.
“I’ve often been asked about memories from my time with the Steelers, in the early days it was a phenomena, a mania, I was part of something that made sporting history in Britain.”
Ask any fans who were around at that time and they will probably be able to tell you about the first ever league promotion game. The SSSC with Hayley and Tim at the helm organized 33 coaches to transport Steelers fans to Blackburn for the game that could seal their promotion.
“…there is one memory that never fades, and I still get a lump in my throat when I think about coming back from Blackburn on that last match of the season. As long as I live I’ll never forget the sea of people I saw below me from the balcony of the arena. I think I had had hired every single coach in South Yorkshire that day to travel to the north west for that match, it was a mission organising the coaches, the stewards, selling the tickets etc and organising the entry tickets at the other end. I travelled back from Blackburn on the team coach and we decided to get a police escort to get us into the arena, reports and messages coming back to us were that there were literally thousands of people at the arena and we wouldn’t be able to get through the fans and cars...we contacted the arena security and the police escort picked us up at one of the motorway junctions …we got off the coach and went out on to the balcony and as far as you could see were just fans cheering and shouting for the team, it was truly amazing to see and to be a part of it. We just couldn’t believe how many people had turned up to celebrate the success of the team, they really got a hero’s welcome.”
It was Tim Brimble who decided to create a legacy for the founding members of the SSSC – The Brimble Roach award. Originally presented to 'The Most Improved Young British Player', the award has changed and adapted over time, as the young Brits grew up and were replaced by young import players, through the Superleague years when the Steelers (and every other team in the league) only had a couple of British players amongst their imports, the spirit of the award remains the same, It is now generally summed up as being awarded for 'Outstanding effort and contribution to the club above and beyond the call of duty.'
In recent years it has not always been awarded to members of the playing staff, non-playing recipients include David Simms (PR), Mike Blaisdell (coach) and Mike O’Connor (General Manager). In all cases, the recipients have worked longer, harder, and with a spirit and dedication to the club that deserved formal recognition.
“…despite everything the club has been through the trophy still stands and now is a credit to Tim, his amazing legacy lives on, for the work all those years ago.”