Shaw Millionaires go for gold

SHAW is responsible for producing Great Britain internationals and is home to one of the country’s best sides – but in a sport you may not have heard of.

For Shaw Millionaires have made waves in the world of ball hockey.

While many people are spending their weekend relaxing on the sofa in front of the TV, players descend on Oldham Academy North for matches in what can be a rough and tumble sport.

And James Glasper, who is both treasurer and goalkeeper, revealed all about ball hockey and how it is open to everyone – as sides are made up of both men and women until players reach national level.

And there have been a few come from Shaw and Royton.

“The most basic way to describe it would be ice hockey without the ice,” said James, who doubles as a medical writer, who turns clinical trial data into reports.

“It can get quite physical at times but that mainly depends on the level its played at.

“But teams are mixed, both men and women are integrated until you get to Great Britain level, which a few of our players have got to.

“The last one we had was a woman called Sarah Lane. We’re the most established club in the area, currently running two sides but there are two others in the Manchester area, as well as teams in Sheffield, Nottingham and Hull.”

Shaw Millionaires currently compete in the top division of central conference of the Ball Hockey UK league, competing against sides from Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Long Eaton, Derbyshire.

In division three lie sister side, Shaw Billionaires, and there are games against sides based in Sheffield, Nottingham and Hull – there is a northern conference featuring teams in the north-east and a southern conference.

Formed in 2011, the club returned to the top division after earning promotion in 2016 and so far, the 2018 season could not be going better.

So what is ball hockey?

• Teams have five players –
four outfield and one goalkeeper
– but that is boosted to six for
matches played on big courts and
internationals.

• Matches are made up of three
15-minute periods.

• There are 14 league games in a
season

• A ball, which is about half the
weight of an ice hockey puck, is
used as well as ice hockey sticks

• And, most welcome of all, there
is nowhere near the physical
contact that you see in ice
hockey, where players smash into
each other and shunt others into
the barriers.

“Much of what you see in ice hockey would be a foul in ball hockey,” added James, originally from the north-east but who has played for the Millionaires since 2015. “Although just like in ice hockey, playing in goal can be the most thankless position.

“The only experience I’d had of playing in goal before then was playing five-a-side football.

“The ball is slower than a puck as it’s lighter but they can still go at quite a speed – about 30 miles an hour.

“If you’re not wearing any pads, then yes it can hurt but thankfully many players wear extended shinguards, although I’ve seen some with just football shinpads and they’ve worked OK.

“And you have to be fit to play ball hockey. Players come on, do two minute bursts, then go off again, so it can be very explosive.

“We’ve had a lot of people who play rugby at our sessions and it’s a lot more fluid a game – the ball is constantly going.”

Despite their success, Shaw are still on the lookout for new players and it is not expensive to have a go – in fact, it is free.

Training sessions take place every Wednesday at Oldham Academy North on Broadway, Royton, at 9pm and the first session is free with all equipment can be provided.

“We usually get about 15 people at sessions, spread across the two teams, and it can be up to 30,” James said. “And apart from one guy, everyone makes themselves available for league games, which are played at weekends.

“And for your first session, all you have to do is turn up, then take it from there.”

*IF YOU want to become a Millionaire, or a Billionaire, sessions are held every Wednesday from 9pm at Oldham Academy North on Broadway, Royton. You can visit their website at www.shawmillionaires.co.uk, e-mail shaw.millionaires@gmail.com or follow them on Twitter at @SMillionaires.

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