Hockey club chairman admits March firsts face relegation fight after player exodus

CHAIRMAN Neil Liversedge has admitted that March’s first team are in a relegation scrap after a massive player exodus rocked the hockey club.

March, who narrowly missed out on promotion last season, have shipped 20 goals in three defeats so far this campaign - leaving them bottom of Division One.

The young side look to be in for a tough season after a host of key players left the club.

Captain James Mansfield and first team stars Ed Batt and Ash Welland have defected to rivals Wisbech, while long-serving keeper Simon Coe has retired.

Rob Mitchell is missing from last season’s squad, Scott Welcher and David Hodson are playing football instead and Grant and Joel Gilmour have joined other family members at Ely.

The departures mean Adam Graham has taken over as first team captain - and Liversedge admitted he had a hard job on his hands.

“I think it will be a struggle to stay up,” he said.

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“If they finish outside the bottom two then Adam and the club will be absolutely delighted. I don’t want to sound defeatist but it’s a tough challenge.

“March is a club that goes through cycles. We haven’t got a grammar school like Wisbech to give us a regular flood of players. In hockey terms, we’ve always been regarded as Wisbech’s little brother.

“These blips happen and it’s about how you respond and how you get out of it. I’m hopeful we can get out of it soon.”

Liversedge played as March’s second team secured a thrilling 5-5 draw with Spalding III on Saturday. Meanwhile, new skipper Graham was harshly sent off as the firsts were crushed 8-1 by Harpenden.

Liversedge said: “I’m sure the firsts will win a couple of matches at home - fortress Neale-Wade has always been kind to us!

“As chairman I couldn’t be any more proud of what Adam has done. He’s working really hard and he just needs the players to back him up.”