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The EGM on Wednesday night unanimously passed the resolution to merge with the Gregs. For those unable to attend, the Chairman's address to the meeting is set out below for your information.


"For the second year running, an EGM has been called to consider a change to our rules and constitution. This is no coincidence. Club hockey in this country is under pressure as never before for a number of different reasons; changing lifestyles, falling memberships and a lack of willing officers are all contributing to the demise of “the hockey club” as we know it.

If you are honest, the older ones among you will recognise these ailments in the way your own membership of this club has changed over the last ten years. You are probably working longer hours, have greater responsibilities at home (with diminished time within which to discharge them) and are consequently unwilling to either spend too much time at the club or, heavens forbid, take on an official role! The result of this is that the younger ones among you quite probably have no clear view of what club life should really be like and are reticent about “putting your hands up”.

As a consequence, your club has had to change to accommodate these shifts in behaviour and to ensure its survival. I will be reporting to you at the Annual General Meeting in April on the substantial progress made since the changes made at the last EGM. This EGM is again about looking ahead, albeit in a slightly different way, and trying to put our club in the best possible shape for the future. Most notably, your Board has been keen to address the following related issues;

(a) The need for more (joint) social activities with lady hockey players at Woolmer Hill
(b) The continuing requirement for increased administrative support.

When the Gregs first joined us here at Woolmer Hill in the early nineties, wooed by that romantic Eric Thomson, the social side of the club quickly developed into a key part of the hockey proposition. Mixed hockey, mixed tours, well attended discos and dinners and vibrant after match social intercourse was the norm rather than the exception and did much to drive people to become involved in the organisation of the club. In short, we never seemed short of volunteers. Of course there was a very human side to all of this; dalliances, partnerships, engagements, marriages and offspring have all resulted from that union.

However, fast-forward six or seven years to the late nineties and, for some reason, this cohesion between the clubs waned. Consequently, both organisations have suffered. Neither of them is able to run what might be termed successful social events and neither can attract volunteers to assist with the myriad of tasks that a thriving club has to undertake – the latest casualty is the dinner/dance which, with no volunteers, is being arranged by three members of the board (as if they did not already do enough for the club).

Hence the need for this resolution. Without formal marriage, your board does not feel that the status quo will change. With marriage, all sorts of opportunities open up to us, both in terms of a re-invigorated social scene, particularly for the younger members, and in creating a greater pool of talent from which to draw the officers and volunteers your club so badly needs.

There are two key elements that underpin this strategy. Firstly, both current managements want to see ladies’ hockey progressing at Woolmer Hill in the way that the men’s has over the last eight to ten years. There is no doubt that excellence on the pitch leads to dynamism off it. Secondly, it is common ground that a merger must not in any way compromise the increased efficiencies – and, in particular, decision-making – which have stemmed from the radical restructuring of HHC a year ago and which have started to pay handsome dividends for the club during this season. As you will have seen from the organogram, the structure of the merged club would remain substantially the same as it is now with significant economies of scale in terms of the numbers of officers required in relation to the number of members.

Before I ask David to say a few words and then leave the resolution for debate from the floor there is one facet of the merger on which I thought it appropriate for me to comment.

As I have already indicated, the essential purpose of the merger is to advance the involvement and performance of women and girls in hockey and to strengthen both the social and administrative aspects of our sport at Woolmer Hill. It is not to increase the profitability of either the ladies or ourselves. As such this is not a financial merger within the stockmarket in which the financial interests of shareholders are paramount. If it were then of course all the minute financial facts and figures should properly be placed before you so that you could make an informed judgement on the attractiveness or not of the merger for your individual pockets.

No, it is not – and because it is not we did not deem it appropriate to burden you with the details of the financial accounts of the Gregs. However, that does not mean that we have not done our homework. Obviously, if the Gregs were in an insolvent or near insolvent condition this could have affected our own financial future so, of course we checked. And our checks showed that the Gregs are comfortably solvent - so comfortably solvent that they have already written a cheque for £2000 towards the cost of resurfacing ATP1.

In connection with this checking process, I have talked of ‘we’. This connotes the board of HHC, which is exclusively composed of businessmen, among whom several have substantial financial experience and expertise. They include David Jenkins, who for many years has kept HHC more than comfortably afloat financially and whom, with the assistance of others such as James Agace and Peter Gillespie, both chartered accountants, has this year produced a record return of subscriptions collected. They also include myself whose job involves analysis of potential liquidations for insolvency practitioners and banks. Gentlemen, you can take it that ‘due diligence’, as the accountants and lawyers put it, has been exercised and that there is no basis for any concern that the proposed merger with the Gregs will saddle HHC with debt.

Equally from the Gregs viewpoint I can say that HHC is very sensitive to the current differences between the respective levels of subscription and match fees between the two clubs and that the discussions already held between the respective managements will, within the environment of the merged entity, be continued in order to ensure equitable and equable solutions from the viewpoints of both men and lady members. The success of any marriage is based on compromise and understanding and I must stress at this stage that any changes to subs/match fees etc. will be on the basis of agreed convergence – there will be no quick fixes that might jeopardise the other significant advances this union will usher in.

David is in possession of the Gregs accounts and has worked very hard to produce a model which, although full of assumptions and estimates, gives an insight into the “merged” issues that we will all need to consider at our AGM. I will shortly ask him to give you an overview and would point out that he, like you and me, has a very demanding day job! Thank you David for your hard work.
Before proceeding with discussion, I should mention the other change sought in the attached Notice, which is the formalising of the establishment of the office of Director for Junior Hockey. From the start of this season we have been fortunate indeed to enjoy the services of Peter Gillespie who appears in your Handbook as “Junior Chairman”. This has been an informal appointment (without an expressed job description) made by the Board after the last AGM; and we believe that this vital club function – which Peter has so expertly performed – should become a recognised Board office. Hence the express addition to the rules.

Finally, a minor variation is proposed in the respective responsibilities of the Directors of Communication and Finance, switching responsibility for record keeping from the former to the latter.

And so I come back to the essential purpose of the merger – the advancement of the involvement and performance of women and girls in hockey at Woolmer Hill – to the mutual benefit of the members of their merging clubs. With that purpose in mind, I, on behalf of your board of directors strongly commend the resolution to you."