Hockey will ‘die’ if action is not taken

Hockey will ‘die’ if action is not taken

Hockey will ‘die’ if action is not taken

Newquay have concerns

24th March 2021

By Tom Howe

Newquay chair, Lora Millward, says hockey will die in the town if measures aren’t taken to ensure the Truro-based club can return home.

With the likes of football and rugby taking priority, a number of hockey-friendly pitches have been resurfaced in recent years. Moving from a sand-base to rubber crumb makes them both unsafe and unsuitable for hockey clubs, who have been left struggling to survive up and down the country. Newquay Hockey Club is just one example. Without a home in the town following the resurfacing of their home, Newquay were forced out and currently play at Penair School in Truro. The club continued training in Newquay but, as they rose through the ranks, were unable to play matches on the new surface.

A move to RAF St Mawgan was ultimately unsuccessful as the pitch was too small and not set-up for hockey. Eventually, they gave in and moved operations to Truro, meaning an hour’s round-trip to play and train.

“It is happening everywhere, it is not just clubs in Cornwall,” said Millward, who is leading a campaign to raise awareness of the issues. “I don’t know figures but, to me, it doesn’t seem that this is under control. [Companies] are seeing these old sand bases and saying ‘we have got loads of money, would you like us to relay the pitch for you’? What [they] are going to do is make it 3G and not a sand base. If the sports centre or school say they still want to play hockey, [companies] will then say they are not interested.

“[The campaign] is mainly to make people aware of what is going on. I don’t think the majority know that this is happening around the country. A good amount of people play hockey. It is popular and is one of Britain’s bigger sports. We won Olympic gold in it a few years ago. It isn’t a case of let’s give up and not play hockey anymore.

“I wanted to show how wrong it is that people who have the money, like the FA [Football Association] and the RFU [Rugby Football Association], are being allowed to make decisions on what surfaces they want, whether it affects other sports or not. I don’t even know if the Government is aware of what is going on. Sport England and England Hockey are but they don’t seem to be doing a lot about it

“The way they find out the needs of an area are by the county council filling in a pitch strategy form. Cornwall Council is the only council in England that haven’t filled it in. That pitch strategy wasn’t available when our pitch was relaid 20 years ago. I don’t know whether it is just us in Cornwall? I think a couple of other hockey clubs have had issues and had to move.”

As more funding is announced to support some grassroots sport, others, like hockey, are losing pitches all over the country. With that in mind, Millward has penned an ode to the FA, RFU and Government, with the final verse reading: “With so many clubs suffering a similar fate, please someone do something before it's too late.”

“[The response] has been brilliant actually,” continued Millward.

“Lots and lots of hockey clubs have liked it and said they are in a similar position. They have sympathised and agreed something needs to be done. It makes us feel that we are not the only ones who have to put up with this.

“Footballers and rugby players can still train on sand bases, whereas we can’t use a rubber crumb because it is not suitable for hockey. It completely ruins the game. The kids learning at Tretherras now, I’ve seen [their facility] and it is ridiculous. Nobody is going to start hockey and think it is a good sport when playing on that surface.

“Hockey in Newquay will die unless we can get a pitch back. We are trying to keep kids interested and have had sessions at the dome but that isn’t happening because that is indoor and we are in a pandemic. They can’t [go on using] that astroturf. It is just rubbish.

“Penair’s pitch floods [too]. As soon as there is a bit of rain it floods. It is constantly slimy and really slippery, even with astros on. There are only about three floodlights working so in training we can hardly see some areas of the pitch.

“We have complained about all of this but nothing gets done. They don’t have the money either. I think they are hoping to relay it but we haven’t heard anything. It is not a dig at them. Hopefully some good might come out of it because, if all we are waiting for is Cornwall Council to fill this form in, someone might get a rollicking for not doing it. They might actually fill it in and we might get some funding.”

Millward concluded: “The astroturf they are offering to relay, saying it has to be 3G... they have got to be told they can’t do that. You put a multi-sport surface down, not just for football and rugby. That’s not multi-sport. If they are offering to put a pitch down in an area where a hockey club has lost their pitch in the past, like in Newquay, it has to be a multi-sport surface.”

The Voice has approached the FA, RFU, Sport England, England Hockey and Cornwall Council for comment but no response was received before going to print on Tuesday.