In a lovely touch to two late and great administrators of British hockey, the NIHL1 South Conferences have been named for Bob Wilkinson and Bill Britton.
This is a great nod to the past of our sport as we look toward a changed future for the EIHA leagues. Both men were hugely influential in hockey over the last 30 years and are worthy recipients of this honour.
While the participants of each conference were decided on Sunday, it was not until last night that the draw was done to see which conference would be named after which of our hockey stalwarts.
Prior to his death this year, Bob Wilkinson had been involved in ice hockey in the UK for 35 years. He first got involved at local level in 1982 when he took charge of Durham juniors in 1982. Within 2 years he was involved at the National level after he was asked to form the first GB U16s team. One of his biggest accomplishments was setting up the first conference weekend for the juniors in 1987. He was also hugely influential in the womens game and can be credited with ensuring that the women were given the funding to compete in the Olympic qualifiers alongside the men.
The Wilkinson conference will feature Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Hornets, Cardiff Fire, Milton Keynes Thunder, Oxford City Stars and Solent Devils this season.
Bill Britton served as Secretary to the EIHA for over 20 years prior to his death in 2005. He has held the role of Chairmen in the EPL, NIHL, Women and discipline sections. After his death, the womens section (which he chaired at the time of his death) named their playoff trophy in his honour as well.
The Britton Conference will feature Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Peterborough Phantoms, Streatham IHC and Swindon Wildcats this season.
From the EIHA press release: an NIHL LMC spokesman said: “While both men proudly have their roots in the north of England, they are hugely respected by clubs, players and officials in the south.
“Bill Britton’s dual roles as chairman of the EPL and secretary of the ENL brings those two leagues together in the new structure. The clubs were 100% unanimous in their support of adopting the conference names.
“It’s a fresh start almost for the league, but it is right to have a nod to the past and two great gentlemen who did so much for our clubs, league and sport.”