Belfast Telegraph

Proud Garside excited as date for his Belfast Giants testimonial is released

Mark Garside
Mark Garside
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Mark Garside has expressed his pride in being awarded a testimonial by the Belfast Giants for ten years of outstanding service with the team.

The British international will be rewarded for his dedication to the franchise with a night that's dedicated to him at the SSE Arena on Tuesday 11 February.

Former team-mates of Garside, as well as the current Giants roster, will take part in the testimonial game that will be open for fans to attend.

"It'll be a great night. It'll great to see some old faces again, some guys who have retired. We'll have a good laugh. It'll be good for the fans to see them again as well," says Garside.

The 30-year-old, from East Kilbride in Scotland, joined the Giants at the start of the 2010/11 season and has returned every year since.

In that time he has amassed 495 appearances for the team and the 12th highest scorer in franchise history with 52 goals and 195 points.

His consistent levels of performance for Belfast have seen him capped 39 times for the Great British international team, and he would have played at the recent World Championships but for injury.

As well as his personal accolades, Garside has been involved in three Elite League title victories with the Giants, as well as winning three Challenge Cups too.

"I'll never forget winning the league first time around, and then on from that the trophies that we've won," says Garside of his favourite memories from the last ten years.

"I think the Challenge Cup last year and the year before, and the league last season, it had been so long since we'd won, so that was pretty special too. You always remember the trophies.

"And a lot of the guys, when you look back in retrospect you remember all the characters you played with and the fun memories you had together.

"It's very special to be given a testimonial. It's not that often a guy will play in a team for ten years. We've been lucky in that over the last two or three years we've had a couple of players (reach it).

"It's really crept up on me. I never thought about leaving at any point, but it is very special to have it."

This will be the third testimonial the Giants have hosted in the last three years, with Colin Shields and Stephen Murphy both receiving similar nights in the last two seasons.

The likes of Giants legends Paxton Schulte, Graeme Walton, Mark Morrison and George Awada came back to play in Murphy's last season, and a similarly stellar line-up is likely to return for Garside's testimonial.

A draft night will be held to determine the two teams the night before the game, on Monday 10 February, while it is hoped that will include live music as well.

Before that, Garside is aiming to host another event in early December as part of the build-up to the testimonial.

On the night, it is likely there will be more than hockey going on at the SSE Arena, with the Scot admitting he has taken notes from the two players who have gone before him.

"It'll be mostly ice hockey during the game though!" laughs Garside, before adding: "I spoke to Murph and Sheds a lot about what they did.

"There are a few other guys in the league doing theirs this year as well. I've kept an eye on their Twitter pages to see what they're doing!"

In the meantime, there will be plenty more signing announcements for the game over the next few weeks for fans to look forward to, with the next one coming as early as next week.

"So far we've got Boxy (Jonathan Boxill) and Colin Shields, who have retired, coming back," adds Garside.

"There's quite a few guys who we're close to having confirmed and we have one guy confirmed who we'll announce next week. We've got a few irons in the fire, as it is!"

All of the information about the testimonial and how to get tickets for the game can be found on the Belfast Giants' website or on the testimonial's Facebook page.

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