Thursday, June 13, 2024

England Hockey dives into radio silence on key domestic match weekend

It’s 2pm on Saturday 25 March 2023 on the last weekend of the league hockey season for many clubs up and down the country, writes Clifton Robinsons fan PHIL BAILEY.

Weeks and months of blood, sweat and tears have gone into the season: coaches, managers, players, administrators and volunteers will have put the hard yards and now, on this day promotion, relegation or play-off positions have gone down to the wire. England Hockey posts support this: ‘Final weekend of the England Hockey Leagues! High stakes battles, nail-biting finishes & top quality action as teams fight for points, play off survival and top spots.’

I manage to attend all home games for our women 1s, do go away but family and commitments mean this is occasional rather than regular. Like thousands of others, I do a bit of volunteering at the club and others do much more but on 27/03 I couldn’t make the away game and the two and a half to three hours travel. Fair play to the coaches, players, managers and officials who do this week in and out – mainly paying their way to do so!

2pm arrives when many games push off to decide these important events and then….. domestic hockey dives into radio silence. From around the country virtually no updates on these important matches and for some clubs their future.

As a supporter and follower of domestic hockey, someone who is rooting for their club today and knowing that for many it is a big day, I want to follow the action as it unfolds across the leagues and see how the ‘high stakes battles’, the ‘nail biting finishes’ and ‘top quality action unfolds’. Instead, there is nothing, supporters across the country are in the dark and don’t know how their team is doing. Half-time will come and go – are we still in poll position, are other results putting pressure on us – how is it looking as the quarters unfold and we go into the last few minutes – nothing!

When I am watching football, rugby union, rugby league, horse racing or cricket I can find the live action updates on numerous sites – for hockey zero.

Social Media gives the odd the odd post but not to follow as league events unfold. I flick to the England Hockey site but no updates. I don’t bother with BBC Sport as they don’t even report on domestic hockey – not interested unless there is an international medal at the end of it.

We used to be able to follow matches in some leagues live on Altiusrt but that has been taken away without explanation – so we have to put up with radio silence, perhaps flick through the sports channels and watch something else.

Old Georgians
Old Georgians were runaway winners in the men’s Premier Division PIC: Eva Gilbert Photography

I know a lot of people work hard in hockey and sometimes unfairly get stick they do not deserve, I know funding in the game isn’t great and it does prohibit some things – but surely if we want to be taken seriously as a sport we have to have an infrastructure that gives access to the action as it unfolds and this needs to be led by the National Body and an agreement as to how we can follow action during the season – after all we did have it before Covid.

If we don’t have updates on our sport coming out centrally on a platform, then that sends out a message. We’ve heard about ‘Legacy’ many, many times over but on a Saturday or Sunday trying to follow domestic hockey and the action as it unfolds is nigh impossible.

It’s 3.40pm, some results are starting to dribble in on the 2pm games….. still waiting for ours.

Oh well back out to the garden to shift some of the frustration – it could have been a great afternoon following the highs, lows, shifting positions but it is still as if we are in the dark ages; this needs addressing by our national body, with the support of clubs, so that our sport is promoted and on par with other sports – so I’ll wait for final scores but this experience doesn’t really pull me into our fantastic sport.

I eventually find out that Clifton have won 4-3.

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  1. I sympathise after having desperately searched for a update/result the weekend before last.

    However, surely the clubs can help by providing updates themselves on social media. If I’m looking for a rugby or football score while the match is in progress, I go to the clubs social media pages, not the league.

    Yes, it’s another job/volunteer required, but it’s not difficult or particularly time consuming. We certainly try to do it for my team/club with a couple of us sharing the job. We did come unstuck on Saturday though as each of us thought the other was doing it!

  2. I totally agree, the availability of timely information is pants

    And the league tables don’t even show the promotion and relegation places. Just because there might be additional relegations in the regional leagues depending on national league relegations, that’s no reason to give no indication – they know which divisions definitely have 1/2 promotion places and 2/4 relegation places

  3. I have expressed disappointment at lack of coverage or even information after games to EH. Better system is needed but not sure when GMS will be as good as what we had before. Radio silence on that topic as well.

    Regarding social media it is sometimes worth considering that when there is a paucity of updates and some close league battles, occasionally clubs might just keep the updates to themselves.

    Also as a club we have moved on from twitter – much more now on Instagram and any live updates go on our Bar Chat WhatsApp group which is generally internal.

  4. I agree with the views expressed in this article. What’s more England Hockey now seem to have decided that National League hockey below Premier Division doesn’t exist. Their tweets and articles refer only to the ‘final’ day of the league season last weekend completely ignoring the first divisions and conferences still have a week to run. On Sunday Southgate Men won Division One South to return to the Premier Division for the first time in many years, and Cardiff &, Met won Div. One North to become the first Welsh team to gain Premier League status. Both of these are newsworthy, but are completely ignored by EH. This coming weekend in the Women’s Div. One Bowdon & Stourport are vying to win promotion. Locked on the same points and separated by just 3 goals, there is the possibility of real drama as both sides try to win their respective matches and score as many goals as possible – no reference to this from EH, and of course it will be so difficult to keep abreast of the score in both matches. This lack of recognition from EH for teams below Premier is a true disservice to the players and hard working volunteers who have striven throughout the season to achieve their goals – and don’t get me started on trying to find details of goalscorers etc. from EH!

  5. When I was at my old club I used to live tweet scores in NHL and Indoor games (the latter via Altius RT).

    No one doing that job now.

    EH should definitely be doing more, at the top level at the very least.

  6. Fully agree Phil. Another irritant is that most clubs/teams are still playing their final games this weekend & cannot support the only event EH is interested in. A club is more than one team & support for higher & lower teams is part of making a club.
    A bit like Indoor Finals when there is NAGS training!
    Legacy. Hockey Family etc al

  7. Wouldn’t be too hard to have an app where umpires or home team put in cards and goals live and this updates a website

    • We do a version of that for the league In hong kong here where I am. The captains lodge a playing card pregame with umpires numbers on it, those umpires then lodge the result post game which immediately feeds league standings and a results page. There’s an option to add goal scorers. We overcomplicate it due to local idiosyncrasies, you wouldn’t need our complexities but the basic concept should work as Andy states.

  8. Eh are an embarrassment of an organisation with no long term vision…. Can’t imagine what hold’s hockey back?


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