I think most bloggers will agree that the “About” page is second in importance only to regular content, visitors want great content but also want to know who it is that’s producing that content.
Knowing this I’ve been very slow in adding a post about myself, why, well what and how do you tell visitors about who you are and what do you add in, what do you leave out?
OK, here’s my version, warts and all:
I’m Ken Abbott, I “discovered” Ice Hockey (North American visitors please note, in the UK we have Field Hockey so add the “ice” bit to differentiate) way back in 1982 or ’83, a friend had a spare ticket, so I joined him, took my place sitting on a very long wooden bench in Block One of the old Nottingham Ice Stadium and have been hooked on hockey ever since.
The Nottingham Panthers had re-formed in 1980 and within three or four weeks were playing to near capacity crowds of 2500 spectators, by the time I came onto the scene the “Sold Out” signs were a common occurrence – in those early days you had either to queue from the early hours of the morning or hope that a friend or friend of a friend would come up trumps with a ticket.
When looking back I find it fascinating how certain decisions turn out to be pivotal in life, in 1984, the very same friend who I relied upon for my Panthers tickets transferred from his sales job in Nottingham to another branch, we were in the same industry, I was looking for a change, had the necessary experience and took over his sales position.
One year later a work colleague from the same company suggested we drive 25 miles north in to Derbyshire to meet the “boys” from the company’s Chesterfield branch for a drink, that night I met my wife to be, a very pivotal moment.
Fast forward two years, I had married and transferred from the Nottingham branch to the company’s rather run down depot in Sheffield where, as manager, I increased business by 800% over 5 years.
Right place, right time
Then in 1991 along came the World Student Games and the construction of the Sheffield Arena and a certain Ice Hockey team that was to take the UK by storm, the Sheffield Steelers.
Hockey night in Sheffield was like no other, there was raszmataz, there was glitz, there was glamour, there was this massive arena that, after just a few months, was filled to an 8300 capacity of rookie Sheffield Steelers fans lapping up everything that the team could throw at them.
Then there was me, a fan of the Nottingham Panthers (very soon to become “the enemy”) quickly realising that this was a unique opportunity to do some business for myself in a sport that I loved.
By this time I had already done a little business with the junior development section of the Nottingham club, supplying hockey jerseys and I was keen to extend my business interests with the Steelers.
To cut a long story short I met with the team’s GM and # 7, Ronnie Wood and from then on I supplied the Steelers with Baseball Hats, Scarves, Tee Shirts, Jackets and Replica Jerseys, even Puzzles, Ronnie Wood asked can you source this or can you get that and I’d say sure, leave it with me.
The Hockey Shop
Do I open my own hockey shop?
By the end of the first season the Steelers wanted to clear their remaining stock by having a sale, one Steelers fan, Les, owned a Motorist Discount shop and offered the use of his empty upstairs room, Les, I’ll be forever grateful to you for that!
The sale started at 10am one Sunday morning, the fans were queueing up outside waiting to get in, was this when the idea to open a shop started, absolutely!
It didn’t take much to realise that the city of Sheffield had become a hockey town, my instincts told me that some of Steelers fans would want to emulate their ice heroes, which meant taking up the game, which meant an increase in demand for skates and all the other equipment required to stay protected on the ice.
By the start of the following season I had quit my full time job and Sheffield’s first Hockey Shop had opened (the first three months in Les’s upstairs room) we sold all Sheffield Steelers merchandise, Ice Hockey skates, sticks and protective equipment plus NHL replica jerseys and merchandise.
After establishing the Sheffield store I moved quickly to open Altrincham in Manchester and in late 1997 opened my third store in Nottingham, I was going home.
I was my own boss and working in a sport that I absolutely loved, it couldn’t get any better could it – actually life took a dramatic down turn when in October I sold off my business and just a month later my first wife Maggie lost her battle with breast cancer, leaving me with my two young daughters aged three and eight.
To be continued…