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NEHL History

NEHL History

In 1956 Ashmores Hockey Club (the company of Davey Ashmores Ltd of Stockton) wrote to local clubs asking for support for a proposed league in the area. The league would have to be confined to County Durham as part of the HA ruling. Unfortunately, this would limit the scope of the fixtures. Written in the minutes book of Billingham HC was “The general view of Billingham was that in essence it was a good idea, but because of the fixtures limitation, it would lose a lot of its attraction. However, it was proposed that if Billingham were to enter a team, it would be the second team only unless the strength of the other teams warranted the appearance of the first eleven”.

Late in 1971 one of the stronger clubs in the area, Sunderland, resurrected the league idea at the Durham County AGM and proposed that Northumberland be included.

The league commenced in season 1972-1973 and 18 clubs participated in the very first NEHL. Clubs were expected to play 60% of other clubs to determine league positions. Sunderland was the inaugural winners with an 88% success rate followed by Furness on 78%. The first committee was chaired by Ken Burton assisted by Jim Rutherford as secretary.

In 1973 the number of clubs increased to 21 and the second team league was started, also with 21 teams. 1975 saw the leagues split so that there would be two divisions in each league with 12 teams in each division.

After the formation of the Northern Premier League the winner was promoted automatically into it, which increased the interest and standard of play in the North East.

In 1991 the league was made an open integrated one with league hockey being opened up to any club side wanting to participate. The integration resulted in more sides playing league hockey and in 1993 the league introduced a new committee post of results secretary to deal with the increasing amount of administration.

In 1998 a conference division was set up for lower sides wishing to participate within a more relaxed format free from certain constraints of the league. There is less formality and no fines attributable to those teams involved in the conference.

From those early league matches it was obvious that impartial umpiring was badly needed. Eric Ryan was instrumental in the setting up an Umpires Association to provide neutral umpires for league games. In its current state, as the Northumberland & Durham Hockey Umpires Association [N&DHUA], there are still neutral umpires to keep control of matches in the higher divisions of our league.

In 2002 the League decided to create its own website and acquired the internet address to utilise this popular medium as the main source of information for clubs and the League.

In 2006 the League was reorganised into x4 Divisions of 12 teams with 2 Conference Divisions – North & South.

In 2007 the status of the Conference was changed so that they would operate as a hockey developmental league. In the same year a rule was introduced whereby all games in the League & Conference were required to be umpired by members the N&DHUA so that they would be at level 1 standard or higher. This resulted in the training of a great many more umpires in the area.

In 2010 the North East Hockey League appointed, for the first time, a League Administrator responsible for the timely and accurate publication of the North East Hockey Handbook, to maintain the NEHL&C Website as directed and to administer all of the NEHL&C Leagues in terms of all match related matters and League Table collation.

For the 2012/13 Season the League entered into a sponsorship agreement with Moette Custom Clothing as was renamed the Moette North East Hockey League. Slight re-organisation was require to best accomodate the number of Teams entering the League and to maintain the 'Junior Development League' in which Junior Teams, including Under 13 players, are given the opportunity to play and develop. As things stand today the League structure is as follows:

> NEHL Premier Division.
> NEHL Intermediate League 1.
> NEHL Intermediate League 2.
> NEHL Club Development (North).
> NEHL Club Development (South).
> NEHL Junior Development League.

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