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OFFICIAL PITCH OPENING

A day of celebration for the newly laid artificial pitch and upgraded flood lighting in Kirkby Stephen consisted of two ladies league hockey matches , men’s football, children`s hockey, and was topped off by a Family Hockey Festival.

The official cutting of the ribbon was performed by:

Mark Bromfield Kirkby Stephen Community Sports Association member for over 20years and assistant head teacher at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School,

Janette Mcwhirter Kirkby Stephen Community Sports Association member for over 20yrs and founder of Kirkby Stephen Hockey Club,

Joan Johnstone Chair of Kirkby Stephen Town Council and

Alex Birtles also Kirkby Stephen Community Sports Association member since its inception and town councillor.

The working group has worked hard to raise the funding over the last two and a half years to replace the worn old surface with a new one from pitch supplier SIS, which was manufactured in Maryport.  Christy lighting from Cheltenham have upgraded the lighting and columns to ensure a more efficient LED system.

The Major providers of funds came from the Garfield Weston Anniversary Fund,  Eden District council`s signature fund, The National Hockey Foundation, and Kirkby Stephen Grammar School.  Other local charities, sports clubs, businesses and families have contributed .

The day began with Kirkby Stephen Hockey Club’s Ladies 2nd team playing Kendal 2nds.  With an array of faces back after a few seasons rest, KSHC 2nds started the game how they also finished the game; beautiful teamwork across the field leading to 8 goals scored past the Kendal Goalkeeper (scorers: Bethany Handley 3, Laura Pepper 4 & Di Nous 1) and most importantly, nothing past the Ange Clegg in goals for Kirkby Stephen.  The game finished 8-0 to KSHC, with Laura Pepper gaining the team’s man of the match.

KSHC 1sts then took on Neston 1sts; an impressively youthful team were fielded by KSHC, with an average age of approximately 23.  Neston brought their usual physical and determined team, performing some well rehearsed linkups.  Nevertheless, Kirkby Stephen’s young squad did not allow Neston to push them aside.  The ball was soon recovered in KSHC defence, and was deposited to Lucy Potter (who was running on from substitution), Lucy collected the ball, defeated two defenders and dinked the ball past Neston’s keeper in a 1-on-1.  Neston’s determination got the better of KSHC, and they managed to sneak a couple of goals into the net.  In the final 10 minutes KSHC stepped up their game, with several chances in both ends, nothing was converted.  The final score was 2-1 to the away side; the team voted both of the youngest players, Sophie Winder, in goals with some tremendous saves at all heights and angles, and Nicole Clegg, with her fierce speed on the right wing and superb ball play across the pitch. 

The cutting of the ribbon was prepared with a speech by Alex Birtles, giving an insight to all the efforts gone into the pitch and giving thanks to everyone involved.  Flowers were presented to Andrea Dixon and Claire Smithson by Isabella Bowman and Imogen Bottles on behalf of Kirkby Stephen Community Sports Association; as a gift of respect for the endless hours writing applications and meetings to ensure all the funds were covered to complete the operation. 

The ribbon was cut and pitch was officially opened by Kirkby Stephen Community Sports Association members, from the beginning to present, and town councillors, who all have contributed a great deal into the success of the new pitch. 

After the official opening, the pitch was split into two where children could participate in some fun hockey drills and games, and the men’s 5-a-side football on the other half; depicting the variety of ages, abilities and sporting activities that are performed on the pitch over the year. 

And finally, to wrap up the brilliant day, the hockey club lead a Fun Family Team Festival, comprising of 7-a-side teams of all ages, with people who had never even picked up a stick before, but the competitiveness certainly shone throughout the teams.

Thank you to all who came along to spectate, get involved and support the successful pitch opening.  Thanks also goes to everyone who has been involved to secure the upgraded facility, bookings can be made through contacting Kirkby Stephen Grammar School.

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