Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hockey at schools: ‘Our pitch has been set on fire – now we could fold in two years’

Opposition have taken to calling the rented Academy pitch where Urmston HC play as “mud-baths”. Players base their monikering on account of the flooding, silting, standing mud and general disrepair of the facility. With eight senior teams and a growing junior section at the Greater Manchester club, it’s more than embarrassing, says Martin Stonehouse, who has played at Urmston for 18 of the last 25 years.

Club chairman Stonehouse is at a loss of where he and the club can go from here. With a pitch nearing two decades old and seemingly no refurb or relay in sight, there are fears that the club could be disbanded or forced to merge in the next two seasons. Stonehouse, a former teacher, is also unsure of where to go or how to stop the club from potentially merging to save itself. “Problems are endemic within the fabric of our hockey network,” he says.

“For a team on the edge of National League, playing NW Prem men and a division down on the women’s side, you’d expect okay facilities and a growing club,” he says.

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