As the nights draw out and days get warmer we have reached the end of yet another hockey season, and it’s time to reflect on what has gone by and what we can look forward to in 2015-16.
From a playing perspective we have competed throughout the club in both the Men’s and Ladies sections. The highlight for the Men has been the 1st XI. The team recorded their highest ever position in the National League East Conference finishing 2nd to runaway winners Holcombe. A strong start to the season was put in jeopardy by the unexpected resignation of the coach Marc Hardy after 5 games. Marc has been a fine coach for the club and we are especially indebted to his contribution in helping the 1s stave off relegation in 2012-13. However, every cloud has a silver lining and through a mixture of good timing and hard work on behalf of several members, notably Simon Evans, the club secured the services of Jason Lee as 1st team coach on an interim basis. Our challenge now is to find a coach for next season. Ideally Jason will continue in this role but at this juncture this is dependent upon his availability and our ability to respond financially.
The Ladies 1s also finished runners-up in their league but unlike the Men they were only 1 point adrift of winners Cambridge City. It feels that the team is getting closer and closer to securing promotion back into the National League, so fingers crossed for 2015-16.
Congratulations to the Ladies 2nd XI who reached the final of the National Plate Competition at the Lee Valley Stadium. They unfortunately lost 1 – 0 to Oxford in a hard fought game, but celebrated their achievement long and hard back at the club afterwards. Well done!
Whilst we started the season fielding 9 Men’s and 5 Ladies sides we were unable to maintain this number of teams. We unfortunately experienced difficulties in the middle of the club, which manifested itself in the Ladies 3rd XI finishing bottom of their league and the Ladies 2nds also being relegated. More disappointingly, the Men’s 3rd XI were unable to fulfil their fixtures and we were forced to pull out of London League Div 2. The problems here appear to be the result of 2 trends. Firstly, we have lost a significant number of players – both men and ladies – to the competing pressures and attractions of life away from hockey and secondly, we have struggled to attract new players as the current trend of post – university players descending on South West London continues unabated. We recognise the major challenge that this presents to our club and recruitment of both new players and former Brombeck juniors returning from university is a priority for the club over the summer.
The junior section once again provided many players for the senior sides throughout the season, and we are keen to for this to continue and expand over time. Thanks go to the senior players who have been involved with the coaching on Sunday mornings. This provides great motivation for the junior players and provides much needed finance for the senior section. We must however find more effective ways of involving the Men’s 1st team in this process.
As I know we all recognise, finances continue to be tight. Our major cost is pitch hire and earlier in the season we made a joint application with Langley Park School for Girls for funding from Sport England to relay their artificial pitch. We were not successful in this but given the importance of this project we shall re-apply for funding this summer. Having had constructive feedback from Sport England we are hopefully better positioned to make a successful application.
2015-16 is the 10th anniversary of Bromley and Beckenham Hockey Club. This coincides with the 150th anniversary of Beckenham Cricket Club. Plans for celebrating both these are underway and we hope that by having joint celebrations we can involve as many people throughout the club as possible.
My thanks go to all the team captains, the members of the committee and the numerous volunteers for their continued hard work and commitment. As always we must recognise the work Jo Read does as Treasurer to keep our outgoings commensurate with our inflows. It is left for me merely to wish everyone an enjoyable off-season and please come back re-invigorated and ready to meet the challenges of attracting new players, lowering costs, increasing revenue, finding sponsors etc, etc, etc……..
Chris “Chopper” Harris