DOUG SHEPPARD has called on the English Ice Hockey Association to take action after he was angered following Bracknell Bees’ trip to his former club Basingstoke Bison.
Sheppard left Basingstoke in the summer following a highly successful spell in charge to become Bracknell’s head coach, with many players following him to Berkshire.
And the Canadian returned to his old club for a league game on Saturday, where Bees were well beaten 6-2.
But it was incidents off the ice which upset Sheppard, who accused the long-standing Basingstoke match announcer and DJ Daren Bavister of insulting his players and their families in the crowd over the public address system.
“You talk about the derby intensity and building up the clash, that’s fine, we’ve got no issues with that,” Sheppard told The Wokingham Paper.
“But the minute you go after people and start talking about personal appearance, it certainly crosses the line.
“I wasn’t happy with it one bit.
“There was normal banter last time we went there. But this time it was certainly way over the line.
“At the end of the day, it’s a family sport. Given how well our School Zone is going, we certainly wouldn’t go anywhere near that line.”
He added: “I brought quite a few ex-players with me. We’ve moved on and we’re happy in Bracknell, things are going well.
“But for some reason there are some people there (at Basingstoke) struggling to move on.
“People change team and sport all the time. If they want to come after me I’m a coach, I’m the one who left and if that’s what the issue is, fine.
“But these players just want to play hockey and their families are obviously going to support their kids, there’s just no room for it.
“I was really surprised it went to that extreme. It’s their DJ’s job to get the crowd going and get them involved but there are ways about doing it.
“Anyone who heard the comments would know it’s way over the line. The people that want to look on the other side of it obviously didn’t hear it or need to put themselves in the shoes of if it was being said about them and their family.”
It is not the first time Bracknell have returned to Sheppard’s old stomping ground this season with Bison running out 3-1 winners when the pair met in early December.
And the Bees coach had no problem with the treatment on that occasion.
“The first time we went there I spoke (with Daren) and he said this is nothing personal but I’m going to be doing my job and I just let him know that’s fine, just do what you’ve got to do.
“Then this time, maybe he thought he would push it that much further.
“I’m sure when he looks back, he honestly must know that he crossed the line and I hope there’s a more genuine apology to the people he was targeting.”
Bavister, who also mans the microphone for Reading FC on matchdays at Madejski Stadium, has since released a statement saying: “The home fixture versus Bracknell Bees carries more passion than usual due to the summer transfers and changes with both sides.
“I have a long standing reputation whether you are a player, coach, Bison fan or otherwise, as an in-game announcer of traversing close to a fine line and occasionally crossing it without for-thought for any repercussions.
“It has been brought to my attention that I misread a couple of situations and have offended a minority of fans.
“Whilst my delivery of the game was no different to any other over many seasons, I regret that my actions have upset people.
“It was not and never is my intention.”
But Sheppard is not fully satisfied by that response and feels the league should step in.
“I read the statement and he (Bavister) knows he was over the line, but doesn’t really apologise,” said the Bees coach.
“I think that’s all you can do in a situation like this, own it, apologise and I’m sure everybody wants it to go away and not happen.
“Call it a rivalry, call it what you want, it’s still a family atmosphere in both places. There’s just no need for it.
“I just don’t see how we’re going to grow as a league if that kind of behaviour is taken.
“If you were new to the sport and you went there and you heard it, you’d think what’s this all about?
“I just hope they (EIHA) look into the situation and find out exactly what was said and they can take a stand and do what they like once they gather the information.”
He added: “I feel Saturday was out of order, classless and showed a complete lack of respect for our team and the sport of ice hockey.
“I’d like to think the league will take the correct action in dealing with this situation.”
For more exclusive Bracknell Bees content, see this week’s Wokingham Paper.