Eirias Hockey Club is based in Colwyn Bay, Conwy at Eirias Park. Made up of around 150 members, the club is a key part of the North Wales hockey landscape and provides countless opportunities to both adults and juniors across North Wales. On paper, they remain one of the newest clubs in Wales. However, Eirias has a rich, interesting history and the club in its current form came to be as a result of a merger between Colwyn Bay HC and Llandudno HC in August 2018.
Llandudno HC were formed in 1895, making them the second oldest hockey club in Wales and they were subsequently a key member in forming the North Wales Hockey Association. Some of you may remember the Llandudno Easter Hockey Festival, a festival that started in the 1920s and ran for 64 years (excluding the Second World War) and unfortunately ended in 1996. In its heyday, this festival of hockey was attracting teams from all over the UK, Ireland and even teams from Germany! Llandudno also hosted a number of international fixtures, including some of the first ever senior Wales games and over the years, the club had a hand in developing several international players, most notably Paul Edwards who represented Wales and featured in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
Colwyn Bay’s history does not go quite as far back, but they too enjoyed some great successes over the years. Producing players like Howell Jones, Michelle Thomas, Michelle Daltry and Rachel Thomas who all represented Wales and/or GB over the years as well as Ceri O’Donnell who served as President of The Welsh Hockey Association. Slightly closer to their home though, Colwyn Bay has a proud heritage of active, passionate, and dedicated volunteers, including the likes of husband-and-wife team Meryl and John Roberts who founded the highly successful Colwyn Bay junior section. Their efforts lead to hundreds of juniors picking up hockey sticks for the first time and finding a love for the sport – the legacy of which has carried over to Eirias!
It’s not all the about the juniors at Eirias too as the club is proud to be keeping members invovled in the club, including some who have gone on represent the Wales Masters squads, at various age group squads Anthony Jeremy is the captain for this year’s Wales O45s team and was part of the O45s Home Nations team who played in Swansea in June this year. Rob Williams was also part of last season’s O55s squad who played at the Home Nations in Swansea and also went to the World Cup in Cape Town this October, coming 4th after losing 2-1 in a penalty shuffles competition to Germany.
Unfortunately, with both Colwyn Bay and Llandudno facing some slight operational difficulties on and off the pitch, a core group of volunteers from each club sought to build bridges with their local “rival” and keep hockey alive in the area, under a new name and badge. As you can imagine, merging two clubs is no easy feat – it takes months of prep and then years of hard work afterwards to make it work! It is always an extremely difficult decision to disband two long standing clubs, but Eirias has worked hard to ensure the heritage of Llandudno and Colwyn Bay is not forgotten.
The committee and the wider members themselves will tell you it took a little getting used to, working with some new faces - especially with no hockey being played for so much of 2020/21! However, this hasn’t stopped the team at Eirias who continue to go from strength to strength. The Club continues to run a thriving and successful youth section, including a development side that also play in the North West League. Eirias has continues its proud heritage of developing youth players, several of which have gone on to representing North Wales and Wales in recent NAGS programmes.
In less than four years since the merger, Eirias has doubled its membership and continues to provide an excellent hockey experience for both youth and adults in Colwyn Bay and beyond. The future is looking bright for Eirias Hockey Club so if you’re ever in the area on a weekend, head over to Eirias Park and meet some of the excellent team!