Mens 1st Team player awarded for decade of service

CHARLIE Chamberlain has been honoured for completing a decade of first team hockey at Wallingford.

The defender has played and started every game for the South Oxfordshire side since 2010 and was presented with a special pennant following his team’s MBBO Regional Division 2 game at South Berkshire on Saturday. Chamberlain’s accomplishments go beyond the last ten years, though, as he has racked up 268 first team appearances over 12 years. Describing his feat as “knackering”, he has been a part of the club ever since joining the Wildcats – Wallingford’s junior programme.

Chamberlain moved away for school and university, but still played senior hockey for the club when back home, while he became a regular for the first team in 2007. He has enjoyed every minute of playing for his home town team and beating Newbury & Thatcham by a point to win MBBO Division 1 in 2008/09 stands out as one of his memorable moments. “My highlight has to be when we won the league,” said Chamberlain. “We had won our last game and were trying to find out the score of the only team who could have finished above us and then we found out they had lost.”

He also recalled the 2015/16 season, when Wallingford were one of only two sides to beat champions Ashford in Regional 1. They also kept out star man Shujah ur Rehman, who netted 56 goals that year. Chamberlain said: “Another highlight is beating the team who went on to win the league a few years ago on our vice presidents’ day and preventing the league’s top scorer from scoring - the only game he didn’t score in during the whole season.”

Goals have been a rarity, but there is one strike which sticks in the memory. “As a defender I don’t get into the opposition D very often, I think most of my goals have come from rebounds and deflections from when I was injecting short corners,” he said. “The most memorable would probably have to be when a rebound looped up off the keeper and I cover drove it on the half volley into the far side board to give us our third goal in a 3-2 win. Although on the way back to the halfway line all I could think of was a previous coach who would have probably been screaming ‘Gretzky’ at me as I should have probably swung with an ice hockey split grip!”

Chamberlain also spent time as captain of the first team, seeing talented youngsters progress to a higher level.

Wallingford were relegated from Regional Division 1 last season, but one of their stalwarts has enjoyed the challenge of helping the club punch above their weight. He said: “For most of the time I have been playing in the first team we have been in a league where we are playing teams from considerably bigger places than Wallingford, so it has been good to have been challenged. “Even when we have had seasons where we have struggled the team spirit has always remained high. “We have also got a strong junior section, so to see five youth players that I selected in the first team go on to play in the National League is pretty satisfying.”