The future of Stafford’s oldest sports club is under threat, with the hockey club forced to find a new ‘home’ pitch after another 3G hammer blow.
The news comes two weeks after a boost for the sport following England women’s gold at the Commonwealth Games – Stafford lies a one hour’s drive from from the Birmingham 2022 venue – and follows the decision by Beacon Sport and Fitness to relay their artificial pitch into a 3G surface.
Stafford HC now find themselves in the “challenging situation” of having no home pitch to play on for the foreseeable future.
“We believe there is already a lack of provision in the Stafford area for young people to get into sport and that is now being further amplified by the lack of playing pitch provision for hockey,” a club statement read.
“We now face the challenge of travelling to play our home matches and attend training, increasing the risk of players leaving the club and us being unable to deliver the provision of hockey to local people that has been in place for over 150 years.
“England Hockey state that one of their ambitions is to double the number of hockey players from 140,000 to 280,000. Their aim is to do this by supporting clubs to grow participation year on year and by encouraging a wide participation of hockey in schools.
“England Hockey also intend to develop hockey’s infrastructure by implementing their facilities strategy to secure better long-term arrangements for clubs. It is our intention to continue to be a significant part of this ambition within the Staffordshire area.”
Stafford remain buoyant that the club can survive, with five men’s and four women’s teams a senior level, and activity from vets down to junior level.
Eloise Gommersall, 14, said: “Hockey at Stafford has been such a big part of my life so far and I would hate for it to stop. I was diagnosed with double curve spinal scoliosis early January and have to have major surgery to fix it.
“Hockey is one of the things that helped me stay healthy and fit for my operation and is one of the main factors that is going to push me to recover as quickly as possible after my surgery. Now knowing that I may have nothing to come back to leaves me distraught. The team has been together for so long our bond is stronger than any other team I know”.
Charlotte May-Wymer, Stafford HC chair, said: “Owing to the actions of one local private institution hockey will no longer be played in Staffordshire’s county town. Players will now have to travel out of the area to undertake hockey activities and the club run the risk of losing players to other neighbouring organisations. We are devastated about this news and call on anyone who understands the importance of team sports for people of all ages to come together and help us”.
Stafford has now set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise £650,000 to keep the club alive and build a new pitch in the area.
If your hockey club is threatened by a lack of provision or closure due to council decisions, please get in touch with us so we can raise your concern.