For more than 60 years, the Anchorians Hockey Club has thrived on its own rights. The small Gillingham based club earned a status as a family-friendly club; one where its members were far more important than any results obtained on the pitch. Yet over time, their kind-hearted values became only a silver lining in what used to be a disorganized and unsuccessful club.
Relegation battles, poor organization and a very old pitch became a constant fixture of the Anchorians.
However, three years ago -on the eve of the club’s 60th anniversary-, the senior committee decided it was time for a change. The former chairman had recently stepped down from his post and Gary Jackson emerged as his successor. With 27 regular seasons to his name and endless knowledge of the club and its members, Jackson looked like the perfect fit for the Anchorians.
“I wanted to give something back to the club and felt that it needed someone who could step up and bring new ideas and I have been trying to do so, for the last three years”, said Jackson on the reasons why he decided to become the chairman of the club.
Under his leadership, the local hockey club completed an astounding makeover in only two years. A new pitch was relayed, the junior section was expanded, the ‘Back to Hockey’ campaign attracted over 40 new members and the club earned a ‘Clubs First’ accreditation. In a short space of time, the Anchorians became a model club for many other sports organizations, especially those also hoping for drastic improvement.
After reaching these milestones, the Gillingham club was not surprised to be shortlisted among other five sports clubs for the Medway Club of the Year award. And on the 29th of December, the small club triumphed over the others to secure their first Club of the Year award. Gary Jackson received the accolade and couldn’t help but to feel massively proud of what they had achieved in the past few years. It was the perfect ending to the fantastic effort made to change the club’s fortunes forever.
In a short space of time, the Anchorians became a model club for many other sports organizations, especially those also hoping for drastic improvement.
Yet, despite the accolades and recognition, for its members, the most notable aspect of the club continues to be its family values. Laura Hoppo (26), the captain of the ladies’ team, is perhaps the best example of the club’s familial nature. Her parents met and introduced her to the club.
“My parents met at this club. My dad started playing here in 1982 and my mom a few years later. They met here and went on their first date at the annual dinner. My dad started running junior training the year that I was born, so he was my first coach until I was 15 or 16.
«This is my second family. When I go for a night out it tends to be with the hockey people, when I’m bored in the week I text the hockey girls. It’s nice to have another family and friends you can depend on. It’s a place to come every Saturday to hang out with people you love and play the sport that everybody enjoys.”
The 26-year-old perfectly captures what the club is all about; having fun playing a sport with the people you love.