After three seasons of failing to live up to their potential Flames' were half way through their 5-year plan and crunch time was approaching. For the second season in a row the management trekked up the M4 in search of a coach, this time welcoming Stan Marple, fresh from his all conquering season with the Swindon IceLords.
Marple's first move was to retain long-serving defence men Paul Thompson and Terry Kurtenbach, and forward Ryan Campbell. Darrin Zinger returned for what turned out to be the last full season in his illustrious British career. After them came the firepower, Barcley Pearce, another to make the journey from Wiltshire, and new to this country, Southern Premier League's highest scorers Mike Harding (also 9th in the National League scorers) and Pete Kasowski. Rugged defence man, Scott Adair, who came direct from Alberta's University, accompanied them. Some female fans shed a tear as heart-throb utility player Nick Rothwell left after just 12 games to pursue a career as a Sky TV colour commentator and yes that did include interviewing spectators of the Fish-a-mania angling competition.
With the framework in place, Marple then focused on talent already in this country. Jamie Organ jumped Slough's ship, and young British goalie Simon Smith joined from Medway Bears, both men topped the netminding tables for the National League and Premier League respectively. The role call of young British talent resembled something from the GB junior who's who, as Anthony Page and Andrew Einhorn signed from Basingstoke and Rob Lamey, Joe Johnston, and Jason Moses all made the jump from Flames' own junior development programme to full time spots on the team. The Plant brothers, Rick and Russ, were reunited with each and coach Marple, who they appeared to work so well with. The Contributions made by all these players were influential in securing the championship. Yet, not surprisingly, the squad was dubbed Team Canada and their young talent was unfortunately snubbed in the All-Star selections (selected by the BNL coaches).
Winning became a habit for Flames. Although choosing not to defend their Benson and Hedges Plate Title, other titles soon came Flames' way as the team not only completed the treble (Southern Premier League, National League and Play-offs) but also bridged the gap between ISL and BNL. Flames' made history with challenge game wins over Basingstoke Bison (2-1) and Nottingham Panthers (6-3) being the first ever defeats inflicted on Superleague teams by a British team from outside their league.
Speedy forward, Kirk Humphreys, joined at the start of the Christmas Cup, the only competition silverware available that they did not win, in which Flames lost to Telford on aggregate in the final. Campbell celebrated Christmas by scoring his 500th point whilst Lamey and Johnston received call -ups for the GB under 21's tour of Estonia. By the end of the festive break Brian Mason had also come on board, and the squad were set to defend their top spot in both leagues as they recommenced the league. They did so passionately, winning both National and Southern Premier Leagues comfortably by February.
With nine playoff wins from ten matches, they were favourites for the clean sweep. Telford was disposed of in a nerve racking 5-3 Semi, (Pete Kasowski missing the game in favour of being at the birth of his first child) then Kingston in the pale by comparison 5-1 final. The Surrey side could finally call themselves champions, with proud management and fans looking on.
Flames' held their first testimonial match this year, as Darrin Zinger retired from a full time role within the sport to turn his hand at banking or law. Gary Stefan, Steve Moria and Wayne Crawford were among the list of old friends who turned out for Darrin's night of tribute, partly to celebrate the full recovery Darrin had made from testicular cancer.