Thursday, May 23, 2024

Club Hockey File: Pelicans itching to celebrate 100th anniversary

A year like no other, 2020 was supposed to be a huge year of on-going celebrations for Pelicans HC in Norfolk.

Established in 1920, the club – which has spawned players such as Danny Kerry, Kath Johnson, David Vinson and John Shaw – was preparing to celebrate its centenary year with a raft of events to mark the occasion. The highlight was to be a VIP gathering of the club’s former chairmen and women and other dignitaries, followed by a black tie event for members past and present.

Club chair Charlie Lankfer was looking forward to a busy year. As it turned out, the logistics and organisation took on a very different hue.

Among Lankfer’s responsibilities now was the dubious honour of being the club’s Covid officer – a role made more challenging as the guidelines issued by both the government and the national governing body were often changing, through necessity, on a weekly basis at times.

“We had many events planned, starting with an Anniversary Ball, golf days, junior discos and resurrecting our successful Easter Festival to name a few,” says Lankfer.

1936-37 squad: The first club photo

“The aim was a range of events that catered for everyone, giving present and past members opportunities to all join together in celebrating.”

For Lankfer, along with a lot of club members, one of the things that makes them so proud of Pelicans HC is its reputation as a family club that has multiple families whose ties with the club go back generations.

“My Grandfather first played for the club in 1948, my uncle also played for many years and I started when I was 12,” adds Lankfer. “I am now 53 and proud to say I am still playing. I met my wife Nicola at the club and she still plays as do my two boys.

“It is safe to say Pelicans is very close to my heart, so to be asked to be chairman for our 100th season was a great honour. Little did I know that only a few weeks into the job with all the above events in place my role would change and I would be given the title ‘Captain Covid’.”

With hopes of a belated birthday sometime in 2021, the nearest the club got to a celebration was a socially-distanced day in December, three days after the actual 100th birthday. The occasion, while muted and very low key, at least gave members a chance to mark the occasion.

Chairman Charlie Lankfer welcoming club President Neville Carter to the 100th Anniversary Club Day

As Lankfer says, “At least it allowed a few past members to come and say hello and raise a glass. We were fortunate that the weather was kind enough to allow our President Neville Carter to join us before all hockey ceased again.”

Behind the scenes, says Lankfer, has also been difficult to manage. “We have our own pitch but hire an adjoining pitch from Lynnsport – a facility run by the Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk.

“It’s a case of booking, cancelling and then last minute saying can we have it please, still not always knowing whether matches are being played or not.

“Financially, it has put a strain on the club as we have lost income from match fees and bar takings each week but we have still had the cost of running the club. These costs include lights at training, rent on the clubhouse and trying to put money aside in a sinking fund for new carpet – something we won’t need anytime soon hopefully.”

To support the membership, Lankfer says the committee took the decision to offer members a reduced subscription next year due to the lack of hockey.

He says this will put more pressure on the finances but the committee felt it was necessary to support members who have supported the club all year.

And Lankfer is optimistic that Pelicans will get their celebration, even if they are a little late: “We are only 100 once so celebrations are only on hold for now and we will be able to celebrate in the not too distant future.”

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