Chairmans Update - October 2015

Dear Member,

I should like to take this opportunity to appraise you of developments in the Club, which I hope to expand upon at the AGM on 22nd October.  You may remember that last year’s AGM was held in May 2014, which is nearly 18 months ago.  This year however, The Committee felt that it should be moved to a later date that was during the hockey season and would hopefully encourage increased attendance.  I look forward to this being the case!

For an update of the 2014/15 season please refer to my end of season report which is on the web site.   It is however worthwhile providing a very brief update on the start of the 2015/16 season even though we are only a few weeks into it.  The Men’s 1st XI are experiencing a challenging start to their season.  Unable to secure a coach for the start of the season, captain Dan Walsh has stepped up to coach on an interim basis.  The appointment of a new coach is however imminent and we look forward to improving fortunes having garnered just 3 points from the first 5 games.  Conversely, the Ladies 1st XI are benefiting from a continuation of the set up from last season, and under coach David Evans and captain Lucy Shepherd they have won their first 4 games and are yet to concede a goal.

The league season is now underway for all other teams and again this season we are fielding 9 Men’s sides and 5 Ladies, and are keen to continue to encourage junior participation throughout the sides. I prefer however to focus more on off the field activities.  On a highly positive note, I am pleased to report that grants totalling nearly £200,000 have been awarded for the refurbishment of the all-weather pitch at Langley Park School for Girls.  This is made up of £150,000 from Sport England and £50,000 form England Hockey.  The applications made by the School and the Club respectively involved significant input from both parties and I feel strongly that we are building a working relationship with the School  that bodes well for the refurbishment project as it progresses.  A huge amount of thanks go to Charles Darby for his liaison with the sporting bodies – especially England Hockey - and to Tommy Hamilton for ensuring that the content of the applications positioned us in such a strong position.  

The grants do not cover the whole cost and we estimate that a further £75,000 to £125,000 is required, depending on the extent of the refurbishment.   This is clearly a large amount of extra funding that we need to find, yet I am confident that we can raise the amount needed so long as we can reach agreement with the school over our use of the pitch at an acceptable cost.   We are actively exploring the avenues by which the money can be raised and are keen to report on this in more detail in the near future.  

Our overall aim with the LPSG pitch is to secure our long term playing future through a) excellent yet affordable facilities and b) growing the Club organically through developing our junior hockey capability.  I would like this to be the catalyst for bring the junior and adult sections closer together for the long term benefit of all our members. 

This project will be the focal point of your Committee’s efforts over the coming months, with a view to having the new pitch in place for next season. Such positive developments however must be tempered with a note of caution.  A new pitch is not a panacea for all the issues we face as a hockey club.  Our lifeblood is members, and attracting and retaining players is arguably our biggest challenge.  The root cause of this I believe is the current demographic that sees people in their 20s gravitate towards South West London.  Consider some other clubs with which we are familiar……

Old Loughtonians once at the pinnacle of hockey in England are no longer competing in the National Leagues and are running fewer sides than they used to, this despite having 2 pitches outside their clubhouse.  The difficulties they face I believe stem from their location.  Hockey players coming back from “Uni” do not move to NE London.  

Compare this with Spencer HC.  This club does not have facilities to match Old Loughts, yet they reputedly had to turn away a very large number of prospective members at the start of the season.  Their “problem”?  Hockey playing 20-somethings do want to live in SW London.

To some extent our situation mirrors that of Old Loughts.  Nevertheless we are only a few miles away from Spencer and can surely benefit from encouraging this demographic to look a little further east to meet their hockey needs.

2015/16 sees Brombeck HC completing 10 seasons as the merged Club, which coincides with the 150th anniversary of Beckenham CC.  We intend to celebrate this with an end of season dinner / dance.  Plans are tentatively underway to hold this event in a marquee at the Club in April next year.  This will be outlined in more detail at the AGM, and at this stage I welcome any input from members as to timings and the format this should take.

As always I should like to thank all the team captains, the members of the committee and the numerous volunteers for their continued hard work and commitment.  I wish you all an enjoyable and successful 2015/16 season.

Chris “Chopper” Harris