Monday, May 20, 2024

An England Hockey season of relegation, walkovers and frustration

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For some, the end of season spells ecstasy as they have clinched promotion or taken home the league title. Others are left with a sense of emptiness, with four months too long a wait for the new league. A handful may wearily pack the kit away for the summer and dust off the golf clubs or cricket pads instead. However, for far too many the end of this particular season has left them with a sense of frustration.

We’ve seen a wealth of cancelled games across the leagues this year. Some where the new league structure has simply been misjudged and there are large distances to travel, combined with an imbalance in quality of teams. Others for Covid issues and a ruling which has been problematic.

On one match weekend last month in South Central Men’s Division 1 Cherwell, over half the games were walkovers and one of the two that remained resulted in a 13-1 drubbing. In addition to this it appears that several walkovers are simply being recorded as ‘5-0’ results, without the W/O tag.

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  1. I totally agree with the sentiments of the article -we were one of the clubs that had to give a walkover in the league you mentioned-we were short of 20 players in a 5 team club -at least half due to injury and covid. In the early part of the season we had to give a walkover and abided by the rule of cancelling the lowest team and moving people up. When it became clear no one else was following that rule we took a more pragmatic decision if cancelling the game of the team with the least remaining players. We never cancelled 1s or 2s games unlike some clubs

  2. Faced this issue in the last game of the season. Our opponent’s 1st XI cancelled their away game and played a number of their 1s players in their relegation threatened 2s against us. Didn’t really affect us as we were mid-table, but it could result in another club being relegated due to our opponents unscrupulous actions.

  3. Our club has had a painful season with a couple of 12-1 matches. The league has been totally unbalanced and many of our players a disheartened and exasperated. Still week in week out we’ve turned out and played well, won a couple of matches at most but bottom of the league.
    I do think the league should adopt a balanced style where the top/ bottom team go up/down and then 2 teams either side play off for promotion or relegation. This would mean that you won’t end up with a few seasons stuck being hammered.

  4. Think you have this spot on. It has been unsatisfactory. It will take another year to start to get the standard right. What the impact will be on smaller clubs still remains to be seen but I suspect with a more stringent application of this rule smaller clubs will struggle and the move to super clubs that EH desire will continue.

  5. Chris Ryder, I can confirm from a small club’s perspective your view is absolutely spot on.
    EH need re-review pretty soon to avoid Hockey in England just being about afew super club’s doted around the country. Unless if that is the way to go in which case there needs to be some focused EH support provided to smaller clubs so all talent (young and old alike) gets the opportunities to keep on enjoying playing hockey

  6. If lower teams in a club are always required to surrender players up to higher teams the outcome is that the lowest teams have the most matches cancelled and the weaker players moving up may find it an unpleasant experience if the standard of game they end up in is too high . So the players we want to encourage the most, the new starters, the back to hockey players, etc are more likely to be discouraged. Personally I think it would be better if the team missing the most players was allowed to cancel or postpone their game and any available players from that team were not allowed to play down to strengthen a lower team. This season has been uniquely difficult for all clubs regardless of size, let’s hope next year is an improvement. If you dont like this rule then speak out and look for changes.

  7. It makes no sense to force a cancellation on a lowest team that has a full complement of players because of a shortage in a higher team, it just leads to lots of uncompetitive games and unhappy players. The team with the shortage should be allowed to concede

    I am not sure I understand how “ dropping half of the first team for a relegation decider” happened when the regulations explicitly prevent this in the last 4 games of the season. Were some areas so lax that they were not even enforcing this?


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