The Belfast Giants honour Graeme Walton on Tuesday night with a richly deserved testimonial.
Never in his wildest dreams did the Belfast boy, born and bred, think that he’d play ten seasons for a professional ice hockey team in his home town but when he retires at the end of this Elite League campaign he’ll do so with the franchise record for most appearances for the team. It will be well in excess of 550.
Not bad for someone who only took up the sport at the age of eleven.
“I started skating when I was about eight years old. My dad used to take me to the Dundonald International Ice Bowl for public skating. When I was 11 I got asked if I would like to come and try ice hockey. I did and took to it right away,” he explained.
“I have had ten great years playing over 500 games for my home town team winning two league titles, a playoff championship and two other trophies and I’ve played for Great Britain in three world championships so I have done more that I ever could of imagined in my career.”
Walton lists signing his first contract and winning his first league title on the same team as the great Theo Fleury as his top two moments but there are plenty of great memories to choose from.
“Playing with Theo was amazing, he was one of the greatest hockey players to ever play the game.
“Stanley cup winner and Olympic Games gold medalist and here he was in Belfast playing for the Giants in the same team as me.
That year was amazing we had a really good team and we all clicked. We won the league title, my one and only so far.
“My All-Star team is made up with some of the most popular and memorable Giants players over the past ten years including
“It promises to be a special night and I am looking forward to it.”