Hockey merger is working well

In September 2012 the joining of two East Devon hockey clubs perhaps shifted stars at the far end of the galaxy, but in terms of what this means for the future of hockey in the region it can only be good.

Sidmouth and Ottery Hockey Club was created when fierce rivals but now good chums, Sidmouth Hockey Club and Ottery Crickets Hockey Club merged.

Why was this so important? Both clubs had a clear desire to sustain hockey for all, whether at primary school level or the more experienced player who learnt their game on grass, and this would be best achieved by coming together.

“It started off as a conversation between the two chairmen,” says Ian Mackie, chairman of the new club, “and it grew from there. The recognition that both clubs, particularly the men’s sections, would benefit from working together was the primary driver, and, as ever with these things, you hope it will also benefit other sections of the club.”

Has it? Well, yes. The club continues to put out four ladies’ sides each week with a good mix of youth and experience and a lot of enthusiasm to ensure good hockey is played. There is also a desire to pass on the necessary skills to the younger players through training and matches.

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As for the Junior Academy - that has continued to flourish. Run at the Sidmouth Sports Centre and Colin Tooze Sports Centre in Ottery St Mary the number of young people attending has continued to grow.

“The Junior Academy has over 100 members now,” says Steve Ellison, club development officer. “This means we have been able to enter teams in the Devon mini-leagues at U10 and U12 and hope to provide more age group hockey for our youngsters.”

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The other important thing is the development of links with local schools. Ellison added: “We have strong links with The King’s School in Ottery St Mary and its feeder primary schools. We offer a mix of QuickSticks, which is designed to give younger players an easier introduction to the game, and regular hockey at our Sunday morning session. Now, we plan to build the same relationships with Sidmouth College, Colyton Grammar School, St John’s and other schools in the area.”

Men’s hockey is thriving with six teams in the Davis Wood Hockey League, offering a range of opportunities for all members to play at a standard befitting their skills.

Adding to the success of the teams is the generous support of the club’s sponsors, Stalite Signs Ltd and Plastics in Construction Ltd who have provided the Ladies’ and Men’s shirts, plus contributions from a number of other local companies and individuals.

Sidmouth and Ottery HC offers hockey for everyone including adults returning to the game.

“We call it Rusty Hockey,” says Mark Moore, coach and vice-chairman. “It is aimed at women and men who haven’t played since school or have had a break from the game. It’s a fairly gentle, good fun and relaxed session on a Sunday morning.”

? Sidmouth and Ottery Hockey Club is always looking for new members to join its ranks, so if you are interested in playing hockey, whether you’re a bit rusty and haven’t played for a while, you play at school or have played hockey more recently, contact us by emailing or have a look at our website

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