BEN Rhydding Hockey Club will not be involved in any league action for the rest of the 2020-21 season.

The sport has been heavily damaged by the pandemic with players desperate to pick up a stick since all activity was shut down at the start of the year.

A restricted version of the game was introduced towards the back end of 2020, but the tier system meant the several leagues Rhydding are involved in were ruined.

The club's administer Hugh Lorimer said: "We couldn’t play against anybody other than Leeds and Wakefield. All the other teams in our division were in different tiers. In the end, we were just looking at friendlies.

"The leagues have now all been cancelled across the North and Yorkshire.

"There’s a possibility of our men's team having a competition to decide promotion, we are still waiting to hear about that.

"We are also still waiting to hear back from England Hockey on us going back. We are hoping to have club friendlies by Easter Saturday.

"The players have not really picked up a stick for several months, so they really need to get back playing some friendly stuff before the return of league action in September.

"The only thing that is going on currently is the elites."

One of those teams is Great Britain who currently are somewhat linked with the Ilkley club.

Fiona Crackles played for Rhydding between 2016-2018 and has been staring for England and Team GB in the past year.

The 21-year-old recently featured in a friendly against Ireland as the squad gears up to appearing at the Tokyo Olympics hopefully set to go ahead in July.

As for Rhydding, presidents Katie Priestley and Jonny Till are planning a return to hockey training as soon as they can after March 29, when organised sport can resume.

The club's flood-damaged pitch should be replaced in time for the new season too as part of a substantial insurance claim.

Fundraising efforts continue to help raise money for protection on the club's facilities from future floods.

At time of writing, £8,806 of the £40k target has been raised thanks to members participating in a range of challenges.

Six players from the Ladies 1st XI cycled over 254km in last July and raised over £2k. While, in December, the men's hockey development squad travelled 2020km in episodes of walking or running before Christmas day, raising over £1.5k. Ilkley Town Council (ITC) also donated £5k last month.

Lorimer added: "We have got to put defences in that the environment agency are happy with.

"We have now accepted that we are going to get flooded. Whereas for 50 years we did not. We have had three floods in the last five years. The pitch is covered with insurance but there are still excesses to pay."

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