Harleston stalwart scoops lifetime achievement gong

PROUD MOMENT: Harleston Magpies stalwart Mike Denham (centre) picks up his Perkins Slade Lifetime Achievement award at the England Hockey gala dinner in Reading last weekend
PROUD MOMENT: Harleston Magpies stalwart Mike Denham (centre) picks up his Perkins Slade Lifetime Achievement award at the England Hockey gala dinner in Reading last weekend

Harleston Magpies Hockey Club’s Mike Denham’s services to the sport have been recognised in the form of an England Hockey Lifetime Achievement award.

A number of officials from across the country were nominated for the accolade by their respective clubs, before a shortlist of just two people was drawn up.

Express hockey columnist Denham was included alongside Liverpool-based Jean Arnold, with his name being announced as the winner during last weekend’s gala event at the Madesjki Stadium in Reading.

“I was delighted and extremely honoured to have received the award,” said Denham. “I knew I had been shortlisted, but never really expected to win. It was enormously exciting to hear my name read out.

“Hockey has been my life really and I have gained a huge amount of close friends from the sport. In that sense, I have taken as much out of hockey as I have put in.”

Aged 75, Denham has held numerous roles with Shotford Heath-based Harleston.

As well as undergoing a seven-year stint as club chairman, he has also chaired the board committee, ran the executive committee, been named honorary life vice-president, acted as leader of the social and fund-raising committee and been the commercial manager.

Denham is also responsible for much of the club’s media output, which includes a weekly column in this paper during the hockey season.

“I was lucky enough to retire at 54, but you need something to occupy your time,” he added.

“Having been involved in hockey most of my life, I decided to get involved in the admin side of the game as well.

“The column I write is enjoyable and allows me to ensure that the club is getting some exposure.

“I enjoy watching the youngsters at the club develop as players and personalities.

“Harleston is a friendly environment with some really passionate people.”

Prior to his association with the Magpies, Denham played for and held a wide variety of positions with Norwich Union Hockey Club.

On top of that, his 50-year association with the sport includes work with the British, England and county teams.

Upon nominating Denham, Harleston’s honorary secretary Daphne Beckett said in the citation: “Mike has worked tirelessly at Magpies, a club fielding 15 teams every Saturday.

“He assists me regularly in my role as club secretary and he makes it his priority to get to know all members, parents, guests and sponsors and in turn introduces them to other members of the club.

“All the commitments which Mike undertakes, he does with efficiency and emphasis must be made to the fact that we are a very rural club and the fact that Mike’s journey to the club adds up to a 40-mile round trip which he does at least three times a week in the open season.

“His acumen of welcoming all members, players or family and especially new visitors at the club is of even more importance as we draw our membership from a very large catchment area.

“Mike, who for years has supported England and GB teams at home and abroad, is passionate about hockey at all levels and I unreservedly nominate him for the England Hockey Lifetime Achievement Award.”

n Harleston Magpies U12 Boys found the going tough in the national In2Hockey finals held at Nottingham. They finished 10th after failing to find the form that had won them the East championship in April (picture: page 68).

n Defending champions Harleston Magpies are through to the finals weekend of the England Hockey Mixed Trophy, to be played at the Lee Valley Sports Centre on June 4-5 after beating Khalsa (Warks) 5-0 in the quarter-finals at home. Magpies will play Formby in the semi-finals on the Saturday.