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Captain's Log: Toby Morris, Bourton and Sherborne Hockey Club

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Thursday, 18th November 2021, 09:00, Tags: Captain's Log

Bourton and Sherborne men’s team play in GoCrea8 League Cotswold Division One Bourton and Sherborne men’s team play in GoCrea8 League Cotswold Division One

Toby Morris has been clocking up the miles on a Saturday for a good while now, but eco-warriors have no cause for alarm.

That’s because Morris plays in centre midfield for Bourton and Sherborne Hockey Club and he reckons a typical game will see him run about seven miles.

“My constant hassling of the opposition annoys them into submission,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been playing centre midfield since I was 17, I do a lot of running.”

Morris is also captain of the men’s team, who play in GoCrea8 League Cotswold Division One, having taken on the role in 2019 at the age of 22.

He joined the club as a 13-year-old and is now one of their major players since returning to the Cotswolds after studying chemical engineering at Loughborough University.

“It’s a nice club to be a part of,” Morris said. “There are so many friendly people, anyone will talk to anyone whether they are senior players or they are still at school.”

And the club is not just about the men’s team, of course, because they run two ladies’ teams, who play in Severn Division One and Two, and also have a thriving youth section.

Morris graduated through the club’s Badgers, the junior section for up-and-coming boys, and the club have plans to revive the Vixens, which has brought so many girls through in the past.

In all, the club have some 100 members but as with so many grassroots set-ups, it’s the youth who are lifeblood of the club.

Morris, as you’d expect, helps coach the youngsters on a Wednesday evening and it is something he very much enjoys.

“You can see them getting better all the time,” he said. “And it’s really heart warming when you are able to invite them to play with the seniors, their faces just light up with a great big smile.”

And once they graduate to the seniors, the great thing about hockey is that they can be playing alongside people who are sometimes 40 or even 50 years older than them.

“There is a huge breadth of experience and knowledge,” continued Morris. “It’s quite eye-opening for some of the youngsters because often they can be playing alongside someone who has been playing the game longer than they have been alive.

“But they can learn so much from them. If they’re told something, go away and practise it and it works, it’s a light bulb moment.”

Morris is a big fan of sharing knowledge and his captaincy style reflects that.

“I’m not super critical,” said the former Cheltenham College and St Edward’s School pupil. “I like to talk one to one or in small groups. I don’t want to impose my opinion, I’m here to help.”

Morris, who is happy to carry on as captain for as long as required, is helped by the fact that there are some very supportive senior figures at the club.

One of those is committee member Sean Clarke, who is in his mid-50s and has been playing hockey for 10 years or so.

“I’ll play anywhere at the back,” said the 56-year-old, “but if the younger players are available I’ll sit on the bench, they are better than me and they’ve got more energy!”

For many years Clarke was one of the more prominent figures at Stow Rugby Club, where he coached his son Archie’s team through the age groups, so how did he get into hockey?

“It was through a mate, Mike Gum,” he said. “His kids were playing hockey at Bourton and he asked if I would to go with him to a ‘Back to Hockey’ session at the club.

“I just went along for the exercise because it’s always nice to meet up with like-minded people.”

So nice, in fact, that a decade on Clarke is a familiar face at a very well run club.

“We know our place and the size of the club,” Clarke said. “We provide good social hockey and an environment which nurtures young players to be the best they can be and enjoy the game.

“It’s the same for the older players too, there’s very much a community feel to the club.”

Clarke is obviously one of the older players at the club – although not the oldest! – and while he still enjoys running around on a Saturday, he gets just as much satisfaction from watching the youngsters develop.

“We’ve got a few good young players,” said Clarke. “Toby Morris is still young and our ladies’ captain Jenny Townsend also came through the juniors, it’s great to get the younger players involved.

“In the men’s team we’ve got four or five players who have come through the ranks. Pete Hoole-Jackson is a cracking goalkeeper and he’s only 18. He’s like a cat, all over the place making double and triple saves.

“His younger brother James also came through the ranks while Joe Lorman is a young striker who is doing very well. Every year we usually get three of four players in the county set-up.”

The Hoole-Jacksons and Lorman have both been helped along the way by their mums – Kate and Petra respectively – who form part of a three-strong coaching set-up at the club alongside Simon Newitt.

“We’re very much a family-orientated club,” said Clarke. “We’re a very friendly club, that’s why I’m still playing and want to be involved.”

Other Images

Bourton and Sherborne have two ladies’ teams who play in Severn Division One and Two
Ladies’ captain Jenny Townsend and men’s captain Toby Morris
Bourton and Sherborne Hockey Club have about 100 members

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