Olympic hopefuls and heroes mark the opening of hockey pitch

The University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Council have marked the opening of a new ‘super’ hockey pitch with a trip down memory lane to celebrate the heritage of the University’s hockey clubs.

The £1.2m pitch, which has been funded by the University and built on land leased to the University by Nottingham City Council, was officially opened by GB Olympic Gold-medallist and Nottingham alumnus, Robert Clift (hockey, Seoul 1988).

The new pitch is opened by Gold medallist Robert Clift

The new pitch is opened by Gold medallist Robert Clift

The first game to mark the opening was a battle of experience vs youth, when current Nottingham students took on University alumni.

The University boasts particularly impressive stats when it comes to hockey with both its men’s and women’s teams competing in the top tier of University sport in the country (BUCS – British Universities and Colleges Sport).

Famous hockey alumni

In 2015 the men won the BUCS Championship for the first time in 50 years whilst being coached by current GB player David Ames. Famous hockey alumni include Harry Martin, Nick Catlin and George Pinner, who are part of the current GB Hockey Squad and are pushing for selection for the 2016 Rio Olympics. However the list of alumni runs far deeper and includes John Land who was selected for GB at the 1964 Olympics, as well as players such as Simon Hazlitt, Rob Moore and Anne Panter.

Current players include Mo Ghandi, current US Senior Team member and GB U21 player, James Gall.

Dan Tilley, Director of Sport at The University said: “The University of Nottingham Sport has a great sporting history, especially in hockey, and the University is investing not only in the club but also the sport, with the aspiration to be successful both at University and National level in hockey. We were delighted to welcome players old and new to celebrate the opening of this fantastic facility and hope that it will inspire other students to choose Nottingham as their place of study.”

‘A superb facility’

One of the former players in attendance on the day was Gordon Clark, 86, the oldest known member of the University Hockey Club who graduated in 1952.

Gordon said: “This weekend was such a great excuse to come back to The University of Nottingham, it holds such a special place in my heart. The Varsity game on Friday was fantastic and it was great to see Nottingham winning again. It was much better organised than in my day where we just used to get together once a week or so to train!

“The new pitch is a superb facility and it’s amazing to see so many people here to play on it and I’m very much looking forward to celebrating the Hockey club at tonight’s alumni dinner, reminiscing about the songs we used to sing and good times we’ve all had playing hockey at the University.”

Alumnus Gordon Clark enjoys the match

Alumnus Gordon Clark enjoys the match

The new facility is a full sized water-based pitch, built to the highest specification, including international standard floodlighting. The pitch augments the splendid facilities at Nottingham Hockey Centre, and establishes it as the leading hockey centre in the country in terms of quality and range of facilities.

Investment in sport

The pitch will be used primarily by the University hockey clubs as well as the wider community.

This is one of a number of investments into the University’s sports provision. Later this year its new £40m sports village will open on University Park campus.

Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dave Trimble said: “The new hockey pitch is going to be a tremendous addition to Nottingham’s sports, leisure and parks facilities and will reinforce Nottingham’s reputation as a city of sport. I’m proud to have been involved in the development of this imaginative scheme to create first class sports facilities in the heart of the city.

“This £1.2m development is further proof that Nottingham is a city which can attract major funding but also demonstrates how sustainable and realistic business models contribute to the aims of Nottingham City Council to provide first class facilities cost effectively for the people of Nottingham.”

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