The Finals Weekend from the Volunteers View

By Reading Hockey Club • Apr 16th, 2014 • Category: Home Page, News

Well the past few weekends have been incredibly busy for the club and its members hosting the Now Pensions Mens playoffs , the England v Ireland international and the Investec Women’s playoffs.
This report is not to give you a rundown of the games, results etc. – you can find all that out on the various websites (England Hockey, Top of the D, Reading Chronicle, various other hockey websites) but hopefully it will give you an insight into what it takes to get the club ready for these events and also the roles that club members play in making it such a success. It is also a way for me, the assigned RHC Events Manager for the weekends, to say thanks and well done to everyone.

For everyone who came down to the club for these events, you will have seen a transformation. Even though it is the responsibility of England Hockey to ensure that the infrastructure, stands, marquees and branding are in place, there is also a huge amount of work that needs to be done behind the scenes by club members.
Believe it or not, there are no magic fairies who click their fingers and it is all done!

It started back in December with the Club Clean-up day, when some club members gave up some of the Christmas holidays to come down to paint the Ladies changing rooms, small corridor and the foyer. There was also a huge amount of leaf collecting, car park cleaning and tidying up around the grounds. These activities were just the start of things to come, and it helped enormously in getting the club ready for the events.

The next stage was the negotiating and discussions with England Hockey, speaking to the various EH departments gathering their requirements, requesting the bollard licence with the council, letting the police know what is happening. There were also discussions regarding the outside bar (at one point we were going to have to run and manage this ourselves!) and then there was also the issue of car-parking! Chris Davey had the unenviable job of being the negotiator with England hockey, ensuring that everyone was kept up to date with the decisions and requests from EH, and making sure the best interests of the club were kept in mind.

A few weekends before the event we had another few days of clean up, following on from the efforts in December. Weeding and tidying up the grounds were key to making the place looking presentable ready for EH to come in.

And so the week before the event – Yet again there was a huge number of hours put in to clearing the clubhouse so England Hockey could take it over, sweeping around the roundabout and car-park, shifting astro around, finding volunteers and sorting out the job rota’s all the while making sure the camps being held at the club were being run in a safe environment with all the stands going up around them.
This was all down whist we were doing our day jobs!

A late decision on the Thursday before the Mens event was made to keep all the car-parking within the club grounds, instead of using Bluecoat and the Rugby club. This decision helped change the atmosphere at the event – it ensured that we kept the money for parking within the club, the “car-parkers” were at the club instead of being stuck in a field down the road away from the Club grounds, the spectators had less distance to walk and it ensured that it was easier to keep control of.
This meant that a group of people – ably commanded by Tim Hamilton – had to set out all the ropes and areas on the Friday to convince EH that this was the correct decision. And we were proved right!

And finally we got to the First weekend!!

A few of us had some very early morning starts (7am) at the club to make sure the EH were happy and everything was in place, there was a lot of “radio traffic” in the first few hours to sort out some teething problems (luckily for the club – the scoreboard was EH responsibility –it usually helps to move electronic equipment away from the water cannons when they go off!!). But on the whole, there were no major incidents or issues – whatever we were asked to do/sort out, we did, and for that EH were very grateful.

The catering crew managed by Rachael Marriott were incredibly busy preparing all the food for the VIP’s, Media, Teams and Volunteers during the weekends and the International – this was no small feat to ensure that all the food was ready and waiting for everyone. The chilli was a surprise strength to many of the volunteers on the first Saturday, but was toned down for the second weekend!!

The Mann Clan Volunteer Van was in full swing, making sure all the volunteers knew their roles, got their passes and meal tickets and helped marshal all the volunteers around posts so that people could watch some of the hockey and get proper breaks. There are loads of roles that we had to cover, some we did, some we got away with not doing e.g. providing people for the Mascots!!

The roles we had to cover were: Team Liaison, Official Liaisons, Clubhouse crew – including changing rooms and front / side doors, Catering and bar staff inside the clubhouse, car-parkers, tickets scanners, programme sellers, Ball boys and girls, face transfer painters, fun zone helpers, Rubbish collectors, water boys and general site support.
In order for these roles to be covered we needed to get a minimum of 55 volunteers per day, but in reality it was closer to 70 in order to make it easier for people to take breaks, rotate around jobs and also watch a bit of hockey.
On top of all this we also needed to get 6-8 Ball Boys and Girls per game, who received high praise from the Tournament Directors at both weekends, saying that they are some of the best that they have had at an event.

After the Men’s we had the International, which was a sell-out (1120 tickets were sold) It was great that the volunteers could do their jobs, watch the game and then help with the clean up to get the site ready for the Women’s weekend.

So to the Ladies weekend – I can only say that the same activities, roles and numbers were involved but it was SO much easier – everyone knew what they were doing and got on with it. The radio traffic was so low, the only messages were “is my radio working- I am not receiving any calls for help? ”

Here are some stats for you:
People through the gate approx. numbers – these are paying spectators and do not include the volunteers/media /VIP’s /TV crew and EH staff!!

  • 1500 on the Mens weekend
  • 1400 at the ladies weekend
  • 1120 at the international
  • Volunteer numbers (approx.):

  • 65 each Saturday,
  • 37 for the international
  • 50 for each Sunday.
  • Car park numbers (approx.):

  • Up to 250 paying cars per day
  • 1 hot air balloon – Couldn’t figure out a charge for the “parking/crash landing” but negotiated a couple of free tickets for a balloon ride as a raffle prize!
  • Catering:

  • 12 x teams per weekend
  • 100 meals per day for the volunteers, EH, First Aiders, Officials
  • Buffet for the VIP’s and EH Senior Staff.
  • My favourite stats

  • My Pedometer
    • First weekend approx. – 18.2 miles
    • Second weekend – 12.7 miles
  • 1 x autograph and photo of Jane Sixsmith!
  • 200 Bin Bags used
  • 1x the most enthusiastic toilet cleaner called Ernie!
  • 1x very nearly damaged Giselle Ainsley car in the way of the SKY Trucks !
  • It is a shame that EH have decided to use Lee Valley for these events in the future, but with all our experience we surely should bid for some of the Euro’s and Internationals (after giving ourselves a little break

    Liz Spencer
    RHC Events Manager for the Playoffs.

    Reading Hockey Club is The official RHC account.
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    One Response »

    1. Well done Liz, Rachel and the whole team! It was run fantastically and the kids and I really enjoyed our volunteering! In fact, couldn’t get Grace away from the place! I think it’s pretty sure they are growing up with blue blood :-) . You all deserve a really good break after all the hard work! Thank you :-)

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