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Up Close and Personal With AJ Smith

Up Close and Personal With AJ Smith

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Published by jwgscott
Romford Raiders Facebook interview AJ Smith
Romford Raiders Facebook interview AJ Smith

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: jwgscott on Apr 24, 2013
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04/24/2013

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Up Close And Personal With……………AJ Smith
The Romford Raider Facebook page is delighted to keep some post season momentumgoing with its on-going articles straight from the mouths of the players themselves. Weclearly hope there is some relevance here and that the featured players are set toreturn to the Gold and Blue, wherever that may be and whatever the shade of thosecolours are. We are not so fickle to forget you guys just because pastures new beckon,and we hope in the near future to have a few golden oldies on the books for you aswell. Any requests, please pm on the facebook front page.Back to the star of this interview, AJ Smith.First things first, is it AJ, Smithy, Adam? What do you prefer?AJI prefer AJ but I get called everything, I’ve got a couple of mates outside hockeythat call me Smithy and my family call me Adam and it’s Adam at work as well. Oh andBombers Mrs, Clare insists on calling me Adam too…Normal question then, when did you first skate, where, and how did you get on?.....anatural?AJI think I was 4 or 5 the first time I went skating at RVW. I took to it pretty quick andremember by the end of my first time I was skating around in the middle while myparents were still clinging to the boards.How did that visit come about?AJI can’t remember to be honest.You grew up pretty close to RVW, so I guess the Romford Junior system was a naturalprogression in the interest in the sport. Any persuasion needed to get you there? Is afamily member responsible?AJYeah I grew up in Elm Park less than a 5 minute drive from the rink. Both myparents were responsible for me starting hockey, they used to take me to watch theRaiders as a young kid and when I was 6 I started training and never looked back.How many of the junior teams did you ice for? Any trophies in that time?AJI iced for the U10’s, U12’s, U14’s and U16’s at Romford before I left. I can’t reallyremember any specific titles but I’m sure there must have been a few league winsalong the way and a few top points scorer trophies too. You can find them now oneBay…Who of the present squad and better known Raiders would you have appearedalongside in those early years?AJThere’s no current Raiders from my exact age group but I played up with the likes of Grant Taylor, JJ McGrath, Anthony Leone and Stuart Low. Dave Oliver was comingalong just a couple years younger than me. I also played South East for my whole junior career with a certain young lad from Peterborough called Julian Smith so weknew each other well when we both signed for the Raiders.
 
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Did you have any family members or relatives involved in the sport at all?AJNo, it’s just me that plays in my family.Growing up with a relatively unusual sport as a hobby, did your classmates at Albanyget curious regarding this “odd” sport you were involved in?AJIt’s one of those sports that everyone’s heard about but no one knows that muchabout it, and it wasn’t just like it at school, every time you meet someone and they findout you play hockey they have a million questions and it almost always starts with “That’s a bit rough ain’t it? Is there always loads of fights”?Were any other Albany pupils amongst the junior teams at the time?AJYeah one of my best mates James Beattie played as well but he packed it in after juniors but he came to the IOW game last Sunday to watch and say goodbye to therink.What other sports did you excel in at school?AJI was pretty good at most sports but wouldn’t say I really excelled at any of them. Iwas in the school rugby team but we only ever played one game and we lost quiteheavily so I don’t know if that counts. On the other hand though there was one sportthat I was terrible at… Field Hockey! As a left-handed Ice Hockey player it was anightmare, you have to use a right-handed stick, you can’t use the backhand of thestick, you can’t put it through your legs and you can’t kick it, in the end I just went ingoal to get out of the way. Stupid sport!Did Ice Hockey help out do you think, the extra physical training, hand eyecoordination.AJI think it must do, it keeps you physically fit and if you’re fit it’s quite easy to pick upmost sports.Do you think the commitment required for hockey hindered your school work in anyway? Was it possible to be disciplined and stop hockey affecting homework.AJI think a lot of things hindered my school work but hockey seems like a betterexcuse so yeah, I’ll use that.So was being a player in a big tough sport a help with the ladies in those early days?AJEarly days? It still is, I can barely walk down the street sometimes without womenthrowing themselves at me, it’s a nightmare! It’s not just me though, I know DaveOliver suffers with the same problem. He is a model too though…I don’t recall your name in the senior rosters at Romford. When did you head over toInvicta?AJI left for Invicta when I was 13 so no, never played for the Raiders before now.
 
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Did you player for any other senior teams between?AJNo, only ever played for just the 2 clubs.Why the move to Invicta. Since your return it’s pretty obvious you could have done agreat job for Raiders years ago.AJAt the time Invicta were the best junior club in the country, I had a lot of friendsthere and Pete Bronnimann had been trying to get me there for a few years. Romfordwere always in the B leagues at the time so it seemed like an obvious move. They alsoput me straight into the senior team at 14 which wasn’t an option at Romford at thetime that I left.And in that case why the move back? Any change in circumstances make that an easierchoice?AJI’d always known that I wanted to play for Romford at some point, they are myhome town team. I was at Invicta for a decade and had a lot of success there but in mylast season there I’d found myself dropping down the pecking order in favour of newfaces from further away. At the time I had been working a permanent nightshift for anumber of years and couldn’t commit to every training session and that wasn’t wellreceived which didn’t help and I became quite disillusioned with hockey as a whole.Then 3 years ago I got a call in the summer from Marsh, I’d already been offered aspot back at Invicta on the 3
rd
line but Marsh said he wanted to play me on his first linewith himself and an import. He was also cool about my work situation and it was achance to play in the famous Gold & Blue. It renewed my love for the game and I’veloved every minute of the last 3 seasons.You were a fixture in that team during the spell where they won everything, year afteryear. Does that become a bit boring, being so dominant?AJI was in the Invicta squad that won the league 8 seasons in a row and I can tell youthat winning never becomes boring!So was playing on a team with a complete line of Smiths explain the AJ moniker? Wasit useful in differentiating between you and Andy Smith.AJI think one year there was 4 of us. Myself, Andy, Tim Smith and Andy’s cousinJamie. That’s not where the name AJ came from though, I generally can’t rememberwho first started calling me AJ but it was pretty much as soon as I started playinghockey that it came about.If so, can we see the AJ being dropped before too long, or is a return across the watera possibility?AJWell I used to have to have AJ Smith on the back of my shirt to differentiatebetween me and Andy who had A. Smith and I liked it so I had it on my shirt my firstyear at Romford but then the next year my shirt turned up and the J was missing, thatwasn’t my decision and I wasn’t happy at first but then I had a great season and wewon the league so I kept it like that for this year too.

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