Hockey lads tuning in to a TV success...

L- R: Tom North and Mark Beavis, founders of Hockey TV, with presenter, Jon Beeden (back).
L- R: Tom North and Mark Beavis, founders of Hockey TV, with presenter, Jon Beeden (back).
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WHAT do you do if you don’t like what’s on TV?

If you’re these guys, you stop watching and set up your own channel.

Hockey fanatics Mark Beavis, Tom North, Jan Rees and Ed Cant became so frustrated their sport was never on the box they set up - an internet TV station dedicated to showing highlights of hundreds of semi-professional, amateur and university matches from around Europe.

“It’s one of the most widely played sports in Europe yet there’s hardly anywhere you can sit down and watch it,” says Mark, a 38-year-old teacher of Oakland Road, Hillsborough.

“Football, cricket and rugby all dominate and other hockey sites are limited at best so there was a definite gap in the market to fill.”

And fill it they have.

So well, in fact, this month they have been invited by the European Hockey Federation to film the men’s Indoor Club Champions Cup in Switzerland. That’s the equivalent of football’s Champions League to you and me.

They and two commentators will spend three days in Lucerne recording all 20 matches for the only available highlights show.

“It’s a massive deal,” says Tom, a 23-year-old video producer of Infirmary Road. “This is the biggest club tournament there is so it’s a major achievement to have TV rights, so to speak. Not that it means we’ll be stopping focusing on the lower leagues or the domestic trophies. When we set up our aim was to cover all hockey, and that hasn’t changed.”

That set up, then? It went like this: Mark, Tom, Jan, 42, of Marston Road, Crookes and Ed, 29, of Abbeydale Road, all met while playing for, and supporting, Sheffield Hallam Hockey Club.

They started recording games for the club’s website but in October 2009 realised there was scope to film more teams and more games for their own web channel.

Then they linked with others recording different clubs to stream highlights from games around the country.

A few shakes of a hockey stick later and the site is regularly getting 3,000 hits a month.

“People are catching on all the time, through word of mouth,” says Mark.

“It’s a sport which isn’t awash with money but if we could position ourselves to make a living from this it would a dream.”

And the quartet aren’t stopping at recording games.

They’ve also set up a mini TV studio in Tom’s living room - cameras, lights, the works - where each month they record a 30-minute live chat show, Team Talk, for Sheffield Hallam Hockey Club’s website. It is hosted by third team player Jon Beeden.

“That’s an internal thing for the club at the moment,” says Tom. “But eventually we’d like to get guests from teams around the country and put it on our channel. The way things are working out there’s no reason why we can’t make it happen.”

n For unrivalled local hockey coverage see Grass Roots, free every Thursday in The Star.