End of an era as Harlow Hockey Club lay down their sticks after 65 years
Sport / Mon 13th Aug 2018 pm31 12:27pm
A Tribute – As Harlow Hockey Club Lays Down its Sticks after 65 Years!
Intro: We have received this long valedictory piece that tells us all that Harlow Hockey Club is no more.
What a sad day and this piece begs lots of questions, that we may well ask.
AS August begins and the air cools, memories of a long hot summer begin to fade, and autumn draws in, there is only one thing on every Hockey players mind…pre-season!!!! The excitement, the anticipation, getting back to fitness, to chilly evenings, damp kit, new faces, then to September; – the start of league! Chilly mornings, warm teas, winning, losing all in the company of the team you love. Hockey isn’t just a sport, it is a way of life. Choosing to spend every Saturday morning, September through to March with the same group of people, the passion, dedication, spirit and love. Winning, losing, drawing, scoring. In rain, wind and snow…
However, not, for the players of Harlow Hockey Club. Not this season.
After 65 years of Hockey, the club, our club, our team, our hearts, our passion, our dedication, our friend, our escape from the weeks turmoil, our sport… has withdrawn from the league and has ceased running.
It is hard to believe that just a few short years ago, HHC had five teams (Two Ladies, Two Men’s and a Mixed), a Ladies 1st Team competing in the Premiership, a Ladies 2nd Team that had just promoted to Division 3 and a Men’s Team that had just won their League! Social was strong and the club held regular fundraising and team bonding events that were well attended. They had a proper coach and training sessions were popular, a visit from Olympic Gold medallist Nicola White at the club’s 2016 HockeyFest made local news and it seemed the only way was up.
However, from the moment, HHC had its funding receded and lost its home pitch to vandalism (the funding was cut in 2013, when Essex CC relocated Passmores School and the decision not to rebuild an astroturf in Harlow was made), it has been an orphan of Harlow. Having to play home games at the neighbouring counties astroturf in Sawbridgeworth (with high pitch fees) after years and years of ongoing meetings and talks with the council to re-instate the clubs funding got nowhere. (Harlow was given a lottery grant in 2000/2001, which was rescinded three years early), with no club house, or home ground and the council’s attention on the town’s other sports clubs instead, Harlow had to rely completely on its players to survive.
The committee consisted year on year of dedicated players, giving up their spare time to keep the club going for the sake of others… pitches, kit, equipment, teas, was all paid for by the players. It was truly a labour of love.
It had, as any club does, a handful of individuals who made this job harder than it needed to be -not everyone was as honest, or as dedicated, and on a number of occasions the club (and its players) were taken advantage of, but each time, through sheer determination, it game back fighting, stronger, and better than before.
However, there is only so much, so many can give. After a poor season that saw a ‘split’ in the club between the Ladies and the Men, the subsequent loss of both Men’s Teams, then of one Ladies Team, the club feared the worst. With only one team remaining, Harlow pulled out all of its resources to try and finish the 2018 season with a Team. – It did. Just.
Now as the 2019 season looms, it has dawned on the club, just how much of a task it will be to field a team for another season. This ask is simply, just too great.
HHC has therefore taken the heart-breaking decision to lay down its sticks.
So here end the memories, the excitement, the anticipation, getting back to fitness, to chilly evenings, damp kit, new faces. Here ends the start of league, chilly mornings, warm teas, winning, losing all in the company of the team you love, here ends the people, passion, dedication, spirit, the winning, losing, drawing, scoring, the rain, wind, snow…
It is sad to think in an age so dedicated to healthy eating, exercise, keeping fit, getting active, mental health and well-being, that a vital community and social resource able to provide all of these things in abundance, was so badly let down. Despite multiple meetings, pleas, talks, and more meetings, the club received no support, monetary or otherwise. Whilst funds and attentions were focussed on new grounds and new club houses for the town’s other sports teams… HHC were left to fend for themselves, without so much as a shed to call their own. Not only were they not given help, the pitch they did have was taken away from them, along with much needed funding that ultimately could’ve have prolonged the club for years to come. It is an appalling and irresponsible show of events from the council and ultimately has signed HHC’s death warrant.
However, just because we can’t make any new memories, doesn’t mean we can’t take old ones with you… our club can give you no more than the best of it, take them and relive them again and again and remember the good times. Then the club can go on, in our minds and our hearts. Let HHC’s spirit live on, in every ball you strike, every stick you bear, every goal you score…for just having been a part of this club you are honoured, to have been a part of something great! … they say the friends you make at Hockey are friends for life and that really is the case at Harlow. It is a legacy that will endure, in spirit if not on the field and to all its friends, players, dedicated committee members, parents, supporters, sponsors, partners, affiliates, the club honours you, and thanks you…from the bottom of its heart- without you there would never have been a club in the first place, let alone for 65 years!
So, thank you for the love, the time, the dedication and your passion, thank you for giving up every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and then Thursday evenings, for the countless hours spent organising fixtures, liaising with the league, sorting umpires, attending meetings, writing match reports, sorting finances, organising socials, distributing newsletters, washing kit…Thank you! HHC pays tribute to you, its players, You, who ultimately made HHC the club it is today – and will always be remembered as…
It is, – and you are legend!
A long list of Saturdays playing hockey, down on the Rye, where we had to put up our own goalposts, and up at Cressex. Shame about the Club folding, but thank you to all who gave their time and energy to keep it running. Does anyone know if Sue Szwer has an email address?
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