AROUND a hundred Club members and supporters enjoyed a sparkling evening at The Shrubbery Hotel in Ilminster last Friday as Chard Hockey Club players gathered for the 2023-24 season Awards.

A new award was introduced this year, the Swain Shield named after Andy Swain who is standing down after 14 years as Head of Junior Development.

The purpose of the award is to recognise the input of an unsung hero whose work is nevertheless vital to the success of the Club.

It was entirely appropriate for the first winner to be Gary Wheaton, long time player and umpire but also for many years assistant to Andy in running the junior development squad.

Andy himself was Clubperson of the Year, just reward for the years he has devoted to putting the Club on such a strong footing in terms of the youngsters joining the Junior Development Programme and progressing to join Men's and Ladies' senior sides.

The Team of the Year Award went to the Men's First Team who had enjoyed an unbeaten run of 18 matches, securing a third place finish in the West Area Men's Division 2 Central.

They were to go on to make it 19 games unbeaten the following day, ending the season with a 6-0 drubbing of Minehead 1st XI.

There was double delight for Tom Sainsbury who carried off awards for Most Improved Player for the Men's Second Team and Boy's Under 18 Colt of the Year in a season he started with the 3rd team before establishing himself as a Second Team regular while also making appearances for the Firsts.

There was plenty of family support to help him celebrate as father Paul and grandparents Jim and Christine were also in attendance.

The full list of Awards and winners were as follows:

  • Men's 3rds Player of the Year: George Parris
  • Men's 3rdsMost Improved: Ollie Bartlett
  • Ladies' 2nds Player of the Year: Thea Parsons
  • Ladies' 2nds Most Improved: Angel Reynolds
  • Men's 2nds Player of the Year: James Spurdle
  • Men's 2nds Most Improved: Tom Sainsbury
  • Ladies' 1sts Player of the Year: Charlotte Mooney
  • Ladies' 1sts Most Improved: Evelyn Churchill 
  • Men's 1sts Player of the Year: Alec Evans
  • Men's 1sts Most Improved: Riley Millet
  • Colt of the Year (Boys): Tom Sainsbury
  • Colt of the Year ( Girls): Layla Anderson
  • Clubperson of the Year: Andy Swain
  • Swain Shield: Gary Wheaton
  • Team of the Year: Men's First Team