MARKET Deeping and Bourne hockey clubs could merge later this year if talks between the two clubs come to fruition.
Player numbers at both clubs have fallen and there is a feeling among many committee members that the prospects of both teams could be enhanced by working jointly.
Discussions have been held between the two committees with a final decision possible by mid-January and combined sides fielded as early as the start of the 2011-12 season.
Jon Plant at the Deeping club said: “We met at a joint committee meeting to make sure our priorities are the same and the mood was extremely positive from both sides.
“All players will have a vote on it before any change but I think it is desired by both committees.
“We would be looking to join by the start of the 2011-12 season.”
Both clubs have cut back on the number of sides entering leagues in recent years and Mr Plant added: “Deeping run three men’s teams and two women’s similar to Bourne but players are having to double to make up teams.
“Both clubs could end up fielding just one team in future.
“We want to have the men’s 1st and 2nd teams move up the divisions and hopefully when we have strength in numbers competition for places will make us more competitive.
“If we have more members we can pay for more coaching. It would enhance membership and bring in more people which in turn would make aspirations grow.”
He added that the priority of both clubs remained the development of young players and that the final decision would only be taken with the support of existing players at both clubs.
“Bourne have an excellent youth academy but between us we do not have teams for the youth players to progress to.
“We are a family club and want to keep that but allow for the ambition that young players possess.”
He said that no decisions have been made regarding possible team names, colours or where they would play. Bourne currently play at Market Deeping Leisure Centre’s Astroturf while the Deeping club play league matches and hold adult training at Peterborough’s Voyager School.
Bourne 1st team captain Ian Craig agreed a merger could make the teams stronger.
He said: “The two clubs have both been struggling to keep hold of players.
“Lincolnshire hockey is struggling in general because the young players who develop here leave to go to university.
“I am not 100 per cent sure if the merger will go ahead. There have been rumours before and it did not happen, but if it does we could create a stronger first team between us.”
n SENIOR league hockey resumes on January 15 with Market Deeping just below mid-table and Bourne at the foot of the East League Division 2N.
n BOURNE HC training is on Monday evenings. Juniors meet at 6.45pm for an hour’s training and the adult session runs from 8pm until 9.30pm at Market Deeping astroturf.
Market Deeping HC training is at Peterborough’s Voyager School on Thursdays (7-9pm) with junior training at Deeping Astroturf on Saturday mornings (9-11am).
For more details see www.mdhc.org.uk and www.bournehc.co.uk.