'We can't wait to get back playing hockey again'
Chesterfield coach Christian Battye says everyone at the club is excited to return to the hockey pitch after the enforced break in action.
Both the men’s and women’s sections of the club have been unable to play thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with league seasons declared null and void in the process.
For Chesterfield men’s first team, that meant a rather shortened debut season in the MRHA Division One following promotion in 2019/20, although Battye was pleased with the progress being made.
He said: “We’d only managed to play five games and suffered with the government’s tier system as a lot of players based literally down the road in Yorkshire couldn’t play for us, but our last match was a really good 4-2 win that could have been a lot more comfortable, and we were just starting to hit a sweet spot in terms of finding our feet in the division and pushing on.
"So it’s frustrating that it was brought to a halt but it was the same all round and we now can finally look to the future once again.”
A restructure of hockey leagues across the country has now seen Chesterfield placed in a new regional premier league which stretches more to the north east of the country – a promotion in terms of where the league is in the tier system and with some long trips to places like Durham and Leeds included.
Battye said: “We’ll be up against some very strong sides as we’ll be playing in the fourth tier but we’ll experience new venues, new officials and so on, which will be enjoyable.
"Part of our reasoning behind accepting a place in this league was so the other teams at the club would be able to continue in more local leagues and not have as much travelling to do, such has been the restructuring involved at all levels.”
Battye says everyone involved at Chesterfield is now looking forward to getting back in action, albeit it will be September before leagues start up.
He said: “We’re back training of sorts already but as time goes on we’ll get some go off to play in the summer leagues that are run in places like Sheffield and then we’ll have pre-season, which may start a bit earlier this year.
"The junior teams will be playing again soon too which is really important as it’s been so hard for young players to have had to sit out playing sport for so long.”