Hockey league set to ‘thrash out’ ending for current term

Hockey league set to ‘thrash out’ ending for current term

Tom Howe

Decision time looms for Truro, with the West Clubs Women’s Hockey League (WCWHL) set to meet this week to discuss how to conclude the covid-hit 2020-21 season, writes Tom Howe.

Truro are one of more than 100 WCWHL clubs eagerly awaiting the outcome of Friday’s meeting, during which officials will ‘thrash out’ various suggestions with regards to a resumption of the campaign or otherwise.

WCWHL secretary, Susan Yeoman, has admitted to the Voice that it looks unlikely ‘much hockey’ will be played between now and the start of next season, which traditionally gets underway in September.

However, some sort of match action is yet to be completely ruled out, with it being mooted that clubs could be allowed to play friendly games - if covid-safe regulations are adhered to - before returning to competitive action in 2021-22.

“We are having a meeting on Thursday to discuss how we are going to end the season,” Yeoman told the Voice. “The way things are going, it doesn’t really look like much hockey is going to get played. There are so many matches to catch-up on and there is no way for us to fit it all in.

“Obviously we have to make a proper decision. Our [preferred] choice would be to have some sort of meaningful league games and do what we can to allow the clubs to play. At the end of the day though, it does seem unlikely given all the things that are going on.

“Somebody said that 80 per cent of our clubs play on school, college or university pitches. Are those facilities even going to be available? They might turn around and say ‘let’s just forget it until next season’. You don’t know how these venues are going to feel about letting outsiders in. It is all well and good students using facilities but once you have outsiders coming in, they could turn around and say ‘we will leave it until September and start afresh’.

“We will come out of lockdown but there will no doubt be tiers to go into.

“If clubs are allowed to get back to hockey, they could maybe just play friendlies. It is all up in the air and we are having a meeting on Thursday to thrash it out. Hopefully we can carry on some sort of a season, or let clubs play friendlies where they are able to.”

Truro’s two teams, who both ply their trade in Trelawney Division Two, were only able to play seven games between them after the season started late, then paused for November’s lockdown, broke for winter and, ultimately, was stood down again for a further lockdown.

“We always knew this was going to be a difficult season, to get everything into place and to get clubs playing,” continued Yeoman. “We managed it for two weeks before it all went pear shaped. All clubs want to do is to go out and play. Cornwall, in a way, is quite lucky.

“In general, there are only Cornish clubs in the Trelawney Leagues so the travel between clubs is not that greater distance.

“The higher up the league you go, you are travelling longer distances. You couldn’t travel from Cornwall into North Somerset, for example, so teams were struggling to play games.

“Another thing is people couldn’t share cars and we have some who work for the NHS and things like that, who didn’t want to play in case they caught anything.

“Clubs in general were quite happy to follow regulations because, at the end of the day, hockey is what they wanted to do. When you can’t do that, you are not getting exercise or meeting other people.

“It is very difficult. You need a light at the end of the tunnel and, as far as I know, England Hockey are gearing up for business as normal [next season].

“A slight concern is that, when you don’t do something for a period of time, you start to not miss it because you aren’t doing it.

“Have people got to a stage when they think ‘I haven’t bothered this season and I haven’t missed it so maybe I won’t bother with it next season?’

“On the other hand, you have clubs who are flourishing and getting new players all the time. I can’t recall a season when we haven’t had a new team apply. We might lose one or two but they will invariably come back later.”