`

Final games for Blackpool Hockey Club as new era dawns

Dave Morgan in goalmouth action for Blackpool
Dave Morgan in goalmouth action for Blackpool

An era ends in Fylde coast men's hockey on Friday when Blackpool Hockey Club plays its final games in its tangerine colours.

An era ends in Fylde coast hockey on Friday when Blackpool Hockey Club plays its final games in its tangerine colours.

The club is to merge with Springfields Hockey Club to form a new club called Fylde Hockey Club next season, based at Mill Farm in Wesham.

It is 40 years Blackpool Hockey Club reformed and the start of this new chapter is to be marked with two final matches at their Stanley Park base.

The matches will be against players from the new Fylde Club (6pm) and then against traditional local rivals Lytham St Annes HC (7pm), both lasting 50 minutes.

Having originally played at St Annes CC and Revoe Park, the club moved to Stanley Park in the early 1990s.

After the dawn of the new century the club began to take off, winning a series of promotions and becoming one of the first Lancashire clubs to gain accreditation from national governing body England Hockey.

The also gained the sponsorship of national bar chain Walkabout which has lasted for 14 years.

They were able to form a second and then a third team, leading to the success of 2011, when all three teams won promotion and the senior side won the County Hockey Trophy for the first time.

Promoted twice more as champions in 2014 and 2015, the first team reached the elite division of the North West Hockey League and lifted the County Trophy again as the club continued to go from strength to strength under captain Nick Rainbow and coach David Morgan.

Despite continuing to compete in the top division for the past three seasons, the club has struggled to attract new young players.

The third team folded and the first and second teams were both relegated last season, prompting the decision to merge with new National League club Fylde and use its state-of-the-art facilities at Mill Farm.

Club member David Wright explained: “Local state schools no longer offer opportunities to play hockey, so there were fewer and fewer younger players coming to the club.

“Also a number of players from the club moved on to play at a higher standard, left for university or retired from the sport altogether.

“Over the 40 years the club can proudly boast that a number of players from within its ranks have gone on to play at junior county/regional representative level then National League hockey, gaining further representative honours at senior level.

“A number of club members also have gone on to umpire the game at National League level and at international level .”

It all means the men’s section, which will operate with four teams next season, is to separate from the ladies’, which will continue to play at Stanley Park under the name of Blackpool and Wyre Hockey Club.