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Hockey season over for Spalding, Long Sutton and Bourne & Deeping

The East League hockey campaign for Spalding and Long Sutton as well as Bourne and Deeping has been terminated with immediate effect.

The organising committee felt that, although there was an appetite to play hockey, time was against clubs to complete their campaigns.

The Government has given the green light in its roadmap for outdoor sports to return at the end of this month and the East League is still keen for clubs to return to action in some form.

Bourne Deeping Ladies 3rds v Spalding 3rds before the latest lockdown.
Bourne Deeping Ladies 3rds v Spalding 3rds before the latest lockdown.

Neil Liversedge, East League secretary, said: “The feedback we have had from both clubs and senior members of clubs is that there is an appetite to play hockey but for clubs and players not to be tied to a perceived tightness that a league fixture may bring. The point was also made that post-Easter, availability of players does reduce.

“The East League management committee encourages clubs, teams and players to take every opportunity to get out on the pitch and play hockey. If that means using some of the league fixtures that have not been played, being played as friendlies, so be it, but we also recognise that clubs may take the opportunity to run fun club-specific activities to suit their membership.

“The 2020/21 season has been enormously difficult and we thank all clubs and their administrators for their open ears, opinions and advice, where that advice has been constructive.”

The East League still plans to finish the Women’s Premier Division and the Men’s Premier A Division due to England Hockey National League’s plan.

Spalding are south Lincolnshire’s highest-placed club with their men’s first team in Premier B while Bourne and Deeping are in Division One.

Long Sutton’s men’s first team play in Division 3NW while all three clubs have ladies sides in Division 2NW.

Promotion could still be on the cards for some clubs – Long Sutton’s men’s first team were second and the thirds top in their respective divisions – due to restructuring of the competition.

Liversedge added: “The 2021/22 season will see the men’s and women’s teams playing under the same league structure for the first time with one Premier Division, two Division Ones and then four Division Twos in a quadrant format and we will welcome the Norfolk Ladies League who will be absorbed into the East League.

“Due to the clubs/teams being lost and extra teams going up to the National League, we can pretty much guarantee that there will be no perceived relegations and we expect that more clubs will be seen as being promoted.”

The current hockey season was suspended at the end of October following the second national lockdown.

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