20 Years - Mark Easton looks back at 1998-99

12 October 2017

As you will no doubt be aware this is the Edinburgh Capital's 20th season. Over the course of the coming weeks I will summarise the previous 19 campaigns for you and reminisce about the players and games that people still talk of today. I will also be speaking to former players and coaches from over the years and will let you hear their views on their time at the club. I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I have enjoyed looking back at the archives.

Season 1998-99

1998 was the year the Edinburgh Capitals were formed. After the demise of the Murrayfield/Edinburgh Racers and a couple of years playing under the name of Murrayfield Royals it was time for a new franchise to take off in the capital city of Scotland. Current Caps General Manager Scott Neil along with several investors decided to bring new life to hockey here in Edinburgh.

Former Fife Flyer and Paisley Pirate, Canadian defenceman Doug Marsden signed with the club as Player Coach and brought in a few players who'd played with him previously at Paisley such as Brits Dean Edmiston and Scott Plews. Back stopping the team was import netminder John Finnie who had also played with the Royals the previous campaign and he was backed up by Robert Jack a Scottish stopper who had been around the Murrayfield teams for a number of years. Canadian sharpshooter Jeff Daniels finished as the clubs top points scorer that season. Mid season after the departure of imports Stefan Simoes and Colin Wilson the club moved fast to bring in Flying Frenchman Olie Coqueux and dynamic Swede Tony Malm. On the blue line was stand out Finn and eventual Player of the Year Erkka Tapio along with tough nosed Defenceman Jason Kelly another mid season signing. Jason was the son of Bob Kelly who was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers in their Broad Street Bullies days. Scott Neil himself still iced at that time and brought experience to the roster along with veteran Neil Abel. Young players such as Alan Hough, Laurie Dunbar, Stevie Flockhart, Stuart MacMillan and Ross Hay all improved playing with better players week in week out. Other imports to feature were former Murrayfield Royal Neil Smith, ex Racer and Royal Roger Hunt, Scott Neil's good friend from his Sheffield days 'Turbo' Tim Cranston and Mike Galati, another to arrive mid season.

Caps first ever game was against Fife Flyers in the Benson and Hedges Cup on Sunday 6th September 1998. Our first ever goal was scored in that 4-2 win when big Canadian Dman Roger Hunt (See first ever scoresheet below) fired the puck home. The Caps finished third in their group which included Fife, Telford and Paisley. A challenge round was put in place back then and the Caps faced Ayr Scottish Eagles of the Superleague losing 23-2 on aggregate. From this we then went into the B&H Plate Quarter Finals where we faced Guildford Flames losing 15-8 over two legs. The Flames went on to win the cup. In the British National League campaign there were many ups and downs. Eventually finishing 8th out of a 9 team league, we had a decent spell over Christmas but a terrible run winning only three games in the last 19 as we moved into 1999. The Caps qualified for the Play Offs having won 9 games out of 32 in the BNL. Slough Jets won the league title that year. In the Play Offs it was still the old style group stages which sadly saw the Caps finish bottom after 6 games with only one win to conclude our first season. To rub salt in the wounds our biggest rivals Fife Flyers went on to win the Play Off title.The VIC Christmas Cup was a high point for the club throughout that season. Again group stages started the tournament of which the Caps finishing top of the group after 6 games with five wins and one loss. In the semi final stages we faced Basingstoke Bison sadly going out 9-6 on aggregate and although we won at home 4-3, the damage had been done the previous night down in Basingstoke. Peterborough Pirates went onto claim the trophy. Drink specialists Stella Artois sponsored the Scottish Cup and with there only being three Scottish teams at that time and Fife being the current holders it saw a semi final between the Caps and Paisley. The Caps came out on top winning 6-3 on aggregate to face the Flyers in the televised final on the BBC. It wasn't to be though for the Caps as they looked to win their first ever piece of silverware as we went down 6-4.

Overall it was a rollercoaster season that saw us start of as Edinburgh Capitals but it was the beginning of what we have all grown to love over the years and many great seasons and memories were to follow here at Murrayfield.

I caught up with top marksmen Jeff Daniels recently and he had this to say about season 1998-99 "I remember us having a decent team but we had a lot of turnover with the imports which I don’t think helps any team for a number of reasons. Although the standings may not have shown it we had some talent, we had some very good Brits including a few Fifers. On a personal level I had somewhat of an injury plagued year, I had both a bad wrist and then a pulled groin for some time. Unfortunately for me and the team skating was never my strongpoint and you take away what limited ‘speed’ I did have and there isn’t much left. It’s too bad too, I enjoyed playing with that team and like I said we could have been so much better if we caught a few breaks here and there. On the ice I would say Doug Marsden was the most impressive, not necessarily his talent but more his heart and competitiveness, he would do what it took to get the job done whether it was diving in front of a shot or dropping the mitts knowing he was in tough. Saying that I enjoyed playing with the Hough’s and Plewy’s of the world, just good people on and off the ice."

I also spoke to Scott Plews who was happy for me to interview him

You can read interviews from past players from the 1998-99 season and all other years at my website - www.eastycatchesupwith.wordpress.com