For Raiders fans there will be a number of dates that stick in our minds when reminiscing about the Gold and Blue. For some it is the first game they went to, the opponent and the final score and not having a clue what was going on but cheering anyway. For others it was a birthday when they were presented with a match puck or perhaps presented MOM beers to their favourite player. Some tend to harbour memories of cup and play off finals and fancy dress and occasional road trips.
Most however will remember 14th April 2013 when Rom Valley Way hosted its final Raiders game and the IOW didn’t even have the decency to let us win!
A tearful farewell for hundreds of fans that packed the rink that evening having seen over 25 years of drama with families and friends that developed as we all aged. Awful losses and brilliant victories all etched in our memories.
We left the old building not entirely convinced that the Raiders would survive till a new rink was built. Indeed many doubted that a new rink would ever be built.
Today’s announcement may be another treasured moment but more likely it is the subject of this message that will stick and we will all do as much as we possibly can to make it a memorable event.
As many are aware the 3rd of February sees the grand opening of the Sapphire, the gleaming jewel of a building surrounding the new home of the Raiders. Our sponsors Everyone Active are doing their professional best to make sure that all of Havering and beyond are aware of the opening to ensure the centre is full and energised for that day and beyond.
The Raiders’ management are delighted that our determination to be part of that celebration becomes official today. The Raiders can at last announce that we are going home in precisely one month from today, to be part of that celebration and to be playing in our new home on the very first day it is open.
So note the date, 3rd February 2018, and when the booking system is in place make sure you reserve your seat because we know that the Sapphire’s many facets including pool, gym, fitness studios and rink will see a very large crowd many of whom will migrate to the 3rd and 4th floor to witness the commencement of the 3rd phase of Raiders history. We aim to make it a memorable evening of entertainment.
We have just 4 home games remaining at Lee Valley and we would like to recognise the hospitality shown by our temporary hosts and voice our gratitude to them for helping to facilitate the Raiders’ survival till this moment. Those thanks are repeated to all the fans and helpers that have sponsored and funded in various ways since the fans management committee had the privilege of taking the reins and guiding the team to its present state.
The Raiders’ fan base has shifted a little west in the last 5 years and we do hope that those local to Lee Valley will continue to support us in the new rink and witness the continued progress of the Raiders, supported at last by their own junior development system.
It will also be great to welcome back the vast number of lapsed Raiders fans that have regularly promised their return as soon as the Raiders are home. Your time is close!