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News Archive > Sport > St Austell fear for future if club is forced out of town

St Austell fear for future if club is forced out of town

By Gareth Davies 24th February 2021

St Austell fear for future if club is forced out of town
Charlotte Jarman and her St Austell team mates were forced to play home matches in Truro this season with club chairman Dave Grey seeking answers on a return to Poltair School

Storm clouds are gathering over St Austell Hockey Club with chairman Dave Grey admitting that uncertainty over use of Poltair School for training and matches puts their future in real jeopardy. 

St Austell’s one senior ladies team and their junior section use Poltair for training and were permitted to do so once more after lockdown restrictions in July and December were eased.

However, Saints’ first team were told by the school that they couldn’t play matches at Poltair and instead, for the 2020-21 campaign which has been recently declared null and void, the side were forced to play home matches at Penair School in Truro. The big question for the club now is will they ever be allowed back and Grey feels the uncertainty is ‘extremely frustrating’ whilst admitting the club have tried to engage with the school on a variety of subjects without luck thus far.

“We seem to be struggling more and more with Poltair School,” he began, speaking exclusively to the Voice. “That said, we completely understand the situation with covid and how that has affected everything.

“Along with England Hockey, we put together a stringent package to keep everyone safe before the abandoned season began. We all had to sign up and adhere to this participation agreement, but Poltair were making us jump through hoops and they don’t seem very supportive of hockey.

“I wouldn’t say local sports in general because I believe local football teams can train up there quite freely. The hockey goals have been falling apart and we have continuously been to the school asking them to be renewed but to no avail. We are free and open and want to know what the concerns are.

“We have tried to enter dialogue in terms of playing there but we had to move to Penair because they refused to open at the weekends and pay their caretaker to open. We do pay more than usual training fees to play at the weekend but this whole situation is extremely frustrating. I am very concerned about actual training up there because we have nowhere else. Poltair is the only pitch that is suitable and obviously we want to stay in St Austell. We are free and open and want to know what the concerns are.”

Although St Austell did find a temporary solution to their problems by moving matches to Penair, Grey says that moving training for both senior and junior sections out of St Austell could prove to be disastrous for the long-term future of the club.

He added: “We have a fantastic age range of members and we are always looking at ways they can be increased. In the ladies’ team, we have an age range of 50, right the way down to 17. If they are good enough, they can play in the first team at 13 and our youngest member is eight.

“However, we haven’t got big numbers and after the first lockdown ended, we were training in Probus for a short time. If the school don’t let us come back to train and play, then where do our juniors go?

“We wouldn’t expect parents to take their children to Truro, for example, to train for St Austell Hockey Club.

“If parents want their children to play hockey, they may end up taking their child somewhere like Truro or even the Dragon Centre at Bodmin which has got everything. If anyone has got some spare money around and want to build a hockey pitch, we would want to hear from them.”

With the league now over for another season because of the covid-19 pandemic, St Austell do have time to try and find a way out of their current ground issues.

Grey says that he wasn’t shocked at the decision by the West Clubs Women’s Hockey League to annul the season and says it was right to start the campaign, too.

“Ending the season doesn’t come as a surprise to us,” he remarked.

“The season seems like it has been a bit of a non-starter and we only played three matches. Two of those were against the same team in Truro which seemed a little nonsensical. If the league had opted for points-per-game, it would have been a farce because Launceston were top the league and they had played the struggling teams.

“As a sport and a club, with the guidance from England Hockey, we put everything in place to make sure it was safe to play. We had a covid-19 officer and in terms of our safety measures, we were in a better place than some football local football clubs. We had to try and keep the sport going so it was the right choice to begin the season and give it a go.”

Poltair School were contacted by the Voice on Monday and they acknowledged our request for comment on this matter.

By Gareth Davies 24th February 2021

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