In 1988, Sean Kerly returned from the Seoul Olympics as a gold medallist ahead of a new national league. He ventured down to Devon with Southgate for a clash down at Ottery St Mary before a crowd of 2,000, scored a hat-trick and was on his way to securing a free trip to the United States, the prize offered up by the league’s sponsors as top scorer over the season.
‘Easily a record for a club match in Britain,’ reported The Sunday Times at the time. Over 30 years on, is this still a record for a domestic league game, one wonders? More than likely. With three Olympic medals won by GB women at successive Games, there have been plenty of marketing openings to breathe life into the domestic game. The national governing body say there are more players picking up sticks from the upsurge of international success. But translating that to watching the domestic game continues to be a damp squib.
As a leading publication covering the sport, this is an embarrassment as we try to portray hockey in a leading light. Thousands play regional hockey every week, yet sometimes mere 10s can be seen watching Premier Division games.
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