Burton Hockey Club celebrated the recent opening of their new pitch with a fun-filled Ellis Fest Hockey event at Shobnall Leisure Complex. Although the weekend weather appeared to include four seasons in a day with hail, wind and rain at times, it was also fortunate to receive lots of sun.
The event was designed to be two days of celebration of hockey on the club's new pitch, as a fitting tribute to Burton's late president Peter Ellis, after whom the pitch is named. It saw Peter's sister-in-law, Sue Ellis, who officially launched the event and unveiled an honours board with details of the main funders and supporters of the new "Ellis Astro" pitch.
First on the pitch on the Saturday were Burton Ladies fourths, in a league match against runaway leaders Woodlands Ladies. Woodlands have only dropped three points all season and , beat Burton 4-1 earlier in the season.
However, since that match, the progress and confidence in the Burton team has grown and they were up for the challenge. Imogen Hardwick scored first for Burton but then they had to defend the ensuing Woodlands onslaught which eventually resulted in them equalising.
Goalkeeper Tilly Winter saved the day by saving a penalty flick to ensure a well-earned 1-1 draw. Next week is their last game of the season, away at Buxton, and they will want to finish with a win to stay in sixth place in their division.
Next on the pitch was an academy tournament for the club's youngsters, who have had another very successful season. Sixty juniors took part in the mixed ages matches and showed high levels of skill that demonstrated the quality of coaching from the academy.
An awards ceremony took place afterwards, with club president Willie Welch, Sue Ellis and Andrew Griffiths MP, along with other VIPs, presenting all the children with a medal. More details of the academy success will follow soon, as the Burton academy under-12s girls won through the regional finals over the weekend and go on to represent Burton at the national finals in May.
After the medal presentation, it was time for the main ceremony, with club chairman Ian Brown and president Willie Welch introducing Sue Ellis to unveil the honours board. In attendance were a large gathering of players and friends of the club, many having travelled from all over the UK, including most of the original members of the Burton team who won the Midlands Championship in the 1970s.
After the speeches a series of seven-a-side matches took place involving a round robin tournament, with around 80 players from the past and present taking part. Also in attendance were Matt Abel, who played for England under-18s last year, and Danny Hibbert, who now plays National League for Oxton.
Both players came through the Burton academy system. In the evening, the annual club awards dinner was held at Bransto and attended by more than 100 people to celebrate the clubs successes.
Many players and officials were given award for their achievements – including the men's fourth team, who were named team of the year after being promoted as champions of their league this year. Sunday saw the over-35s take centre stage and many players were welcomed back, including vice-president Debbie Woolley, back on the pitch after several years away.
A very enjoyable day was had by all and many friendships with players from the past were renewed.