Hockey has last laugh as April Fools’ gags amuse

The Hockey Paper - - FEATURE - By Gra­ham Ot­way

HOCKEY showed it has a sense of hu­mour – in the shape of three web­site ar­ti­cles which ap­peared as April Fools’ jokes on Satur­day.

In par­tic­u­lar, twit­ter fol­low­ers were ini­tially left scratch­ing their heads at an an­nounce­ment from men’s Premier League club Bee­ston.

As re­ported in The Hockey Pa­per ear­lier this year, the Not­ting­hamshire out­fit have formed a unique twinning part­ner­ship with HC Rot­ter­dam to swap ideas in ar­eas like coach­ing and com­mer­cial­ism.

But here they were an­nounc­ing a new plan which would see both the club’s men’s and women’s first team swap­ping league ac­tion with their Dutch coun­ter­parts for the whole of next sea­son.

It stated: “The ex­change has been rel­a­tively straight­for­ward to put to­gether and play­ers will be mov­ing in to their re­spec­tive team mem­bers’ houses cor­re­lat­ing to their shirt num­bers.

“The ex­change is due to take place af­ter Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in Au­gust. Both sets of men’s and ladies’ squads travel to Spain for pre­sea­son prepa­ra­tions be­fore then head­ing back to Eng­land and the Nether­lands to start their league cam­paigns.”

Bee­ston even claimed that the swap had been ap­proved by Eng­land Hockey’s com­pe­ti­tions man­ager, Stephen Bar­low.

The site claimed he had re­sponded to the ‘news’, say­ing: “This is an un­prece­dented move by the two clubs and their le­gal teams have been work­ing hard to make this hap­pen. We have been over the league rules here in Eng­land and with my coun­ter­parts at the KNHB, the pro­posal from the two clubs is fair and within the reg­u­la­tions for Eng­land Hockey.”

And in an un­usual step, Bee­ston di­rec­tor Gra­ham Grif­fiths told THP that the story would stay on the site for a week, such was its pop­u­lar­ity.

He added: “It has all been a bit of fun to show we have a sense of hu­mour but we have been sur­prised at just how many peo­ple on twit­ter be­lieved it was true.”

Just as un­be­liev­able was an an­nounce­ment by Wap­ping HC site that they had landed a spon­sor­ship deal which would see the Lee Val­ley Hockey Cen­tre re­named later this year.

It said: “We are de­lighted to tell you that we have con­cluded a nam­ing rights agree­ment for the Lee Val­ley Hockey & Ten­nis Cen­tre, which will for this up­com­ing sea­son be known sim­ply as “Wap­ping Val­ley”.

“Sig­nage round the cen­tre will be changed later to­day. The nam­ing rights deal also in­cludes all com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­fer­ring to the cen­tre.

“There­fore, Eng­land Hockey com­pe­ti­tions will be known as ‘Road To Wap­ping Val­ley’ or sim­ply ‘Road To Wap­ping’ and East Lon­don HC will re­fer to their first teams as having the op­por­tu­nity of play­ing at Wap­ping.”

Else­where, King’s Col­lege Lon­don HC laid claim to this sea­son’s Hockey Var­sity ti­tle, which they said had been handed to them by win­ners UCL be­cause of the be­hav­iour of their sup­port­ers at Lee Val­ley.

A state­ment said: “UCL’s Var­sity cel­e­bra­tions this year were pre­ma­ture with the an­tics that oc­cured at this year’s Hockey Var­sity caus­ing UCL’s Union to in­ter­vene, and de­cide that the best pun­ish­ment for, ‘un­ruly stu­dent be­hav­iour’, was hand­ing the 2017 Var­sity Se­ries ti­tle to King’s Col­lege Lon­don.

“Al­legedly, due to ex­ces­sive use of flares, out­breaks of fights, and gen­eral drunken stu­dent out­rage, man­age­ment at UCL wasn’t happy with the code of con­duct of UCL spec­ta­tors at the Lee Val­ley Hockey Cen­tre.

“The club were at first threat­ened with having their sec­ond and third teams cut if no-one owned up to the flare throw­ing, but man­age­ment sub­se­quently opted to dis­qual­ify UCL and hand the 2017 Var­sity Se­ries to KCL.”

The story added: “The UCL hockey team has also been banned from Lee Val­ley af­ter per­ma­nently mark­ing the Olympic­stan­dard pitch with burn marks from the flares.”

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