Former England international Tim Whiteman is aiming to help get Harleston Magpies’ men’s team back playing in the top tier of national hockey.
The 30-year-old, who played a starring role in Harleston’s England Hockey Mixed Trophy title triumph earlier this month, has come back to the club where he started his career aged just six.
Whiteman is returning to Weybread to take up the position of player-coach for the men’s first team next season, and has hopes of masterminding a return to the England Men’s League.
Speaking to the Express about his plans for Magpies, Whiteman said: “The idea is to eventually return to the national league with the men.
“My vision is to build a national league environment at the club. I want to bring a national league setup to Harleston Magpies, and that will facilitate hopefully playing in the national league again.”
Harleston’s men’s first team finished fifth in East Men’s League Premier A, one level below the England Men’s League, last season, while the ladies first team secured a fourth place finish in Investec Women’s League Conference East.
While the target of getting Magpies’ men’s first team back in the England Men’s League is high on the agenda for Whiteman, he also wants to push the club forward as a whole.
“The main aim for me is to make Harleston a real hub for hockey in East Anglia,” he said.
“I want it to be an epicentre of hockey and to have the women and men playing at the same level, in the national league.”
Whiteman made his debut for the men’s first team as a 16-year-old, before moving on two years later to Nottingham Trent University, where he began a successful 10-year spell playing in the top division of the England Men’s League for Beeston Hockey Club.
While playing for Beeston, Whiteman won three national titles and the England League Cup, and also represented England and Great Britain on no fewer than 54 occasions, which included playing in five major international tournaments.
A move back to Norwich and a full-time job as a humanities teacher at North Walsham High School saw the opportunity for Whiteman to return to his home club arise, and it was a decision which he did not have to think too much about.
“It’s fantastic,” Whiteman said. “I spoke to a few people at the club about possibly coming back and I was really excited by the idea.
“From top to bottom, the club offers such a nice environment.”