Back in early 2022, after a Mixed Round Robin at Lord Wandsworth College, everyone was having teas and liquid refreshments in the Four Horseshoes pub; both homes of Warlocks Veterans Hockey Club, writes Nigel Dean.
A discussion ensued about the possibility of starting a women’s team. The men’s team had been in existence since 1989.
The upshot was that Jolene Burder and I would look into the possibility. A WhatsApp group was created in order to get the idea started and obtain like minded ladies. Finding a fixture for a non-existent team was quite challenging. But eventually the wonderful Ladies from the Army agreed to play us. So, in April 2022, the first Warlocks woimen’s game took place. Yes, they were a lot better than us, but the ball had started rolling, so to speak.
We managed to get some fixtures against South Masters league teams and had some great games, especially with South Berkshire. We also ended up playing a couple of area teams. We didn’t make some fixtures, we just didn’t have the numbers, but these were increasing. The ladies joining were from clubs that didn’t have a league team, nor did they have their own cup team.
Getting fixtures in the season, and keeping them, proved to be somewhat difficult. It didn’t help with league fixtures, cup fixtures or even other cup fixtures taking pitches!
During this time, the Ladies said they didn’t like the Warlocks shirts! They wanted different material, more feminine, and out there. So, I looked around trying to find a supplier who would deal with a small club, but still have reasonable prices. Core37 managed to translate what was in my head onto a shirt design.
Eventually, in 2023, we had home and away fixtures with Trojans where we were able to play our first games in our new shirt. They were really high quality games. Since then we have played four Area Teams before their championships. Looking forward, we have six games in July and some more in August.
What has been special is the way the ladies network seems to be working. Yes, as the starters Jolene and I are still getting people to join, but we are being asked by others if colleagues or friends could join. We do not ask anyone who wants to play what their ability is, they get to play and it’s up to them what they think.
Because we have such an eclectic mix, everyone gets a chance to play with the stars that we do have playing for us. We do not pick the strongest team, it’s who is available on that day. The atmosphere in the squad is wonderful.
We are considered as a ‘super’ team because we cull players from so many clubs (probably 20+ now). But we don’t select that way. Anyway, there is definitely a requirement for our existence.
Our WhatsApp group now has over 70 participants. Over 50 of these are also signed up to our Teamo team management system. Incredibly, 36 have bought shirts, and we have a waitlist. The men have also bought into the shirt and over 30 of them have purchased them.
So, has it been a success? I believe so. We are giving a lot of ladies the chance to play Masters hockey. It is giving them confidence to progress. Lots of them have attended the Area trials, and even England and Wales trials. We seem to be filling a gap in the hockey landscape.
Fixtures are liable to be an issue in the new season, but maybe this will be covered by clubs who want a warm up game before they play in the cup. We have already been approached for something like this.
In conversation with other areas, it would seem they also need a Warlocks style team in their area. Maybe we have to start Warlocks regional teams! We have come a long way in little over a year, so here’s to the next!