THC SUPPORTS STRIKE ACTION
Teddington Hockey Club is positively bristling with connections – teammates, new friends, old friends, friends for life, spectator buddies, life partners. Connections are everywhere!
We of course have lots of families, where both the children and parents play for the club at some level or other. But what about a hockey-loving father on the pitch in a competitive match alongside not one, but two sons? Or a summer hockey session where Mum, Dad, the two sons and daughter are all playing in the same team? Meet three generations of the Strike family, who live only a few streets away from our Broom Road HQ and have been involved with the club for over 50 years.
Grandfather Jim is a serving Vice-President of the Club after joining back in 1968. His son Tom is a popular Oaks Player and junior coach. His wife Clara has spent time coaching the under 10s. All three of their children – teenagers Freddie and Arty and their younger sister Tilly - all play for teams across the club. It’s part of family life for the Strikes these days; part of their identity.
Jim, a sprightly octogenarian played hockey at school and then in his student days at several clubs in Kent before joining Teddington and spent many happy years playing in the sixth team with the then club captain Peter Simon and international Ken Howells – eventually captaining the side himself.
“Back then - playing in Bushy Park, you had to be 14 years old to play for Teddington - it was thought too dangerous to play on grass with the grown-up hard-hitters. I encouraged Tom to come and join us before and after games and then play in the school holidays as he got older and he really took to it. Before I knew it, he’d regularly come up behind me in matches saying: “Don’t worry Dad, I’ve got it”.
Jim was on a mission to become the oldest playing member of the club until at 55, he collided with an overly bullish right wing from Surbiton Vets - and after 26 years, he retired with a broken nose, lots of friends and a hat-full of memories.
“It’s such a joy to see that my whole family have followed me at the Club and it’s genuinely great to see that each generation can play better than their parents. This wonderful community has given me so many years of great sport, fine friends and it’s an honour to still be involved with the club,” said Jim.
To Tom, it feels like yesterday when he started playing alongside his father.
“I remember going to the club house in Bushy Park when I was about 6 or 7 years old. Dad would play hockey and my brother and I would watch Pink Panther cartoons on the TV while he played. Mrs Sibly, who made the teas then, would give us a bit of cake if we were good,” he said.
Jim in fact cut down one of his old wooden sticks and Tom used to hit the ball around after his games when he was very young and he started playing for the 6s in 1983.
Mens 6s 1983
Mens 6s 1983
“I'm still crap after all these years, but absolutely love it! We had players then that I remain good friends with to this day – guys like Tony Coleman, Fergus King, Gareth Jones and David Barnes were all 6s too. On grass in the park, it was nothing like the game we know now.”
Tom has gone on to coach juniors from U8 and U10 boys and girls to U14 boy and watch his boys win the Middlesex Cup, The South Finals and represent the County.
He proudly proclaims the day he first played with both his sons in the same team as a very special one that he had been looking forward to for a long time.
“Eventually they get way better than you as a coach, but I really enjoy coaching and seeing the kids develop and progress in front of your very eyes. One of the first boys I coached in the U8s now plays Men's 1s, which is amazing!”
Both Tom and Clara are huge believers in the power of team sport in developing rounded and positive young adults. For Clara, already a nifty netball player, it was inevitable she would end up with a stick in her hand.
“It became the classic case of - if you can't beat them, join them. I remain a better netball player – hockey is quite a difficult game technically, but I was very keen that Tilly should get involved as early as the boys and I didn't want her to feel left out, so I volunteered along with Freddie to help coach the under 6's. I think I learned my best hockey with Tilly and her cohort!” she said.
“Being part of the club is healthy, fun and it’s a very safe environment with a real sense of
community. I enjoy the friendships I have struck with other parents and players. Promoting the club and recruiting new youngsters - especially boys as there aren't as many - has become a bit of a mission and I'm now helping the boys run the after school hockey club. I work at St John's School close to the club and I always make sure I am seen out and about in
my Teddington Hockey Club Hoodie.”
Clara also believes there is a real buzz of change around the club at the moment – the Ladies 1s making it into the National League and the female influence growing.
“You can feel the positive female influence Clare Freer has brought. It's so important that girls feel the club is run by them for them and not just controlled by the men's sides, as in the past. Keeping girls playing sport through puberty and into adulthood is so important and I think Teddington, its coaches and all the fantastic volunteers make us a leading local light in doing this valuable work,” she said.
Freddie, now a sixth form student at Teddington and with his brother Arty, an accomplished young musician says he doesn’t really ever remember there not being hockey around in their lives.
“I started playing when I was 5 and I was also playing cricket at that time. You tend not to play cricket in the freezing cold on a wet Sunday morning in winter! Hockey is a brilliant way to keep fit and the sport seems much more accessible and fun compared to other sports,” said Arty.
Both boys are clear on why they want to keep playing at Teddington: “It’s such a great community and especially when you start to make friends after the games. We both hope to still be playing when we are Dad’s age,” said Freddie.
Tilly, now playing in the U10s tells you proudly that she had a hockey stick when she was only 2 years old!
“It was a hand-me-down from my brothers. Freddie and Mum helped coach the U6s, so I think I was 5 when I started playing properly. It’s such fun and my friends play too and I just love winning games.”
When you ask her what she thinks about THC, she doesn’t hesitate: “That’s easy” she says. “It's cool and Teddington are the best.”
And when you ask who is the best player in the family, her answer is similarly rapid “It’s me - obvs!”
Quite right Tilly – you go girl!