King's Lynn Town star Ross Barrows helps Sheffield hockey club find a new home
A Sheffield hockey club left without a home ground in its seventieth anniversary year has a new facility for its youngsters thanks to a professional footballer.
Chapeltown Hockey Club, which was formed in 1951 and boasts around 100 members across its junior and senior age groups, has been forced to play matches on the other side of the city or in Barnsley in recent years after their pitches at Ecclesfield School were relaid using a 3G surface that ironically is better suited to football.
But a chance conversation between long-serving player of 29 years, Rachel Gillott, and Sheffield-based Ross Barrows, who plays for National League side King’s Lynn Town, resulted in the latter recommending the multi-use-sports area at the Caribbean Sports Club as a possible solution.
Ross’ dad Errol is involved in the running of the facility and, after positive discussions, Chapeltown Hockey Club were able to raise the £12,500 needed to refurbish the playing surface there, thanks largely to a £9,500 grant from Ecclesfield Parish Council.
A marathon effort from junior lead coach Matt Bradshaw helped them get over the line after he raised more than £2,000 by running a 26.2-mile route around hockey pitches in South Yorkshire.
The new pitches, which will house the club’s junior section, were officially opened by Team GB Hockey star Tom Sorsby, who is a former junior player at the club, on Monday, with 24-year-old defender Ross also present.
“It gives us that base for us to give kids the opportunity to play hockey, which is really important given everything we have all been through,” said Rachel.
"Not everybody wants to play football. Hockey is really inclusive; boys and girls and all ages play. It’s a game you can play for your entire life.”
Indeed, Chapeltown Hockey Club is home to several veterans with international honours, including Rachel’s husband Ian, an England seniors international who she met through the sport.
Yet the clubs five adult teams are still without a permanent home.
"To find ourselves in this position is far from ideal,” said Rachel.
"We keep plugging away, working with England Hockey, who are in turn working with Sheffield Council to try and find us a suitable home as close to the north of the city a possible.
"It’s all talk at the minute, there’s no certainty.”