New season, new management, new name - well nearly, new start. After ending the previous year virtually penniless Flames' long-term financial stability was ensured when a new consortium, SportFact Ltd, led by Canadian merchant banker John Hepburn, took over during the summer. They installed former Team International netminder Ron Charbonneau as general manager and gave him the task of building up the side until it was good enough to fulfil the club's dream of making the Premier in three seasons.
Charbonneau recruited two experienced dual-nationals; Romford's Terry Kurtenbach as bench coach and the much-travelled Fred Perlini to join the returning import trio of Rob Friesen, Ryan Campbell and Paul Thompson. Last year's brits, Andy Sparks and Billy Rawles were joined by a large number of fellow GB junior team members such as John Noctor, Ben Challice, Drew Chapman and Elliot Andrews. The team also experienced Bobby Brown on his never-ending tour of the country as he played a brief seven league games. Joining mid-season from Milton Keynes, Andy Allan proved a reliable blue-liner bringing some much needed experience to the side and was popular with team mates and fans alike. Another addition before signing deadline was of American Tom Peart, who relieved Kurtenbach of his duties coaching.
With only the five players back from the previous year's squad everyone feared a slow start to this year's campaign as the team gelled, but Flames cruised through their Autumn Trophy group, scoring double figures in each game. But in the semi they came up against their jinx team, Solihull Barons, who went onto win the trophy.
As the league started, the team pulled themselves out of the bottom third of the Division One table and threatened to take a playoff spot for most of the season. However, after losing four points when Teeside withdrew in January, Flames found themselves instead with the prospect of battling against relegation. But seven wins in their last ten games ensured that they finished safely in seventh place, though out of the promotion play-offs for the second year.
Among the high point of Flames' season were extremes - the total bench clearance at the end of the home leg of their challenge game against Milton Keynes and the draw with Cardiff Devils in the Southern Cup, with fans getting a glimpse of life in the top league. The biggest low point was having five points deducted for an alleged breach of the wage-capping regulations. Fortunately Guildford won their case, but has never since been able to shift the reputation of being a rich club.
To beat dwindled numbers at the gate and as thank you for returning after last season's hard times, fans were treated to almost monthly social events. From the summer Meet the Players Bar-B-Que, to Halloween and Valentine discos, Christmas meal and Skate with the Flames session which was attended by over 700 people, to the traditional End of Season Awards dinner.
Ryan Campbell has to head any list of Flames' most influential players. Apart from making his presence felt with opposing goalies - he increased his average to almost three points a game - he continued his work in the team's re-organisation in the off-season earning himself a position in the office. His attitude and work commitment, were an inspiration to his teammates. The other imports began work in setting up the 'Drug Freeze' programme during this season, more information about this can be found elsewhere in the book, as well as general duties in the office and with the junior teams.