A BAND of devout ice hockey fans were left disappointed after missing Bracknell Bees’ biggest game of the season – because their bus broke down.

The committed fans -–which included an 11-year-old celebrating his birthday – were travelling north for the team’s play-off clash against Manchester Phoenix but ended up stuck for four hours.

They left the John Nike Leisure Centre, in John Nike Way, Bracknell, at 11.30am but disaster struck as the coach approached Birmingham on the M42 at about 1pm.

Charlotte Hunter, chair-woman of the Bees Supporters’ Club, from Hanworth, was one of about 10 fans left stranded when the coach broke down.

She said: “It was disappointing to say the least. We were going along and then the bus just died. We were on the side of the road for about an hour and a quarter and then two taxis took us to Hopwood Park Services.” A replacement bus arrived at about 5pm – but with face-off just 30 minutes later – the disgruntled supporters returned to Bracknell.

Mrs Hunter added there was particular disappointment for one fan. She said: “There was an 11-year-old, Martin, and it was his birthday present.

“He was in floods of tears but we’re hoping to get him along to the presentation night to meet the players.” Yvonne Salter, from Easthampstead, was another fan who missed out.

She said: “Everyone was just talking about the game the night before and hockey in general. Everyone was having a good chinwag but it was disappointing we couldn’t make it to the game.” Mrs Salter runs the Face-book and Twitter feeds for the Bracknell Bees so had to rely on her husband John, who was at home, to update the sites using information from the Manchester Phoenix Twitter feed.

The Bees won the first leg 3-2 at The Hive on Saturday, but were dumped out of the English Premier Division play-offs after losing 6-3 in Manchester (8-6 on aggregate) on Sunday, bringing their season to a close. Mrs Hunter said: “We are the noise makers and we felt it could have made a difference.” She added the fans are expecting to receive a full refund from the coach firm and hope to get their money back for the match tickets.