Senior hockey returned to Kelso at the weekend after a 26-year absence and attracted a large crowd to the new pitches.
The new Kelso High School was built very much with the local community in mind – and a key part of its design was the incorporation of a new 2G hockey pitch, as well as a 3G rugby and football surface.
In 1992, Kelso Ladies Hockey Club was forced to leave the town to play matches, after hockey’s switch from grass to artificial pitches.
It did not deter the club, however, as it went on to win promotion from East League Division 5 all the way to the Premier Division by 2007.
Now, after more than two decades of homelessness, and great hosting of the teams by Tweedbank, Earlston and Duns, the club, now simply known as Kelso Hockey Club, returned to Kelso with matches for the 1st XI and 3rd XI.
Past captain Sharon Paterson recalled: “Kelso played their last game on home soil on March 21, 1992 when we beat Langholm 3-1.
“We then played our first ever game on the then new astro surface at Tweedbank on September 11, 1993, winning over Galashiels 2-0.”
On Saturday, Kelso lost out narrowly to Falkirk/Linlithgow 3-1, but not before Lucy Murray – a Scotland Hockey Academy player – managed to score Kelso’s first goal in the new facility, much to the delight of the large crowd.
The 3rds went on to defeat Cala 5ths in the next match 1-0, with a stunning finish by Megan Mackie.
Coaches Mary Weir and Julie Abbott have long campaigned for an artificial hockey pitch in Kelso, where Kelso High School has over 100 school boys and girls playing hockey every week, has won numerous schools trophies, and produced a number of internationalists.
Mrs Weir said: “This has been a very special and important day in the history of Kelso hockey, because there is nothing like playing in your own home town.
“We have continued to develop the club really well, with some great help from the players, parents and local volunteers, and my fellow coach Julie.
“They have been happy to travel all over for training and games every week, with all the arrangement of cars that brings, and we owe Tweedbank, Earlston and Duns a great debt of gratitude for hosting us.
“But, when you are looking to attract interest in the club, from players coming up through the ranks and from supporters, it’s a great help to be playing at a local venue, where we can train every week, and is walkable for many people.
“We’ve had some great comments from people about how much they’ve enjoyed coming along and watching, so we hope to see them again for our next home game this Saturday, and to see the club continue to build at all age levels.”
This weekend’s home game sees the Kelso 2nds take on Boroughmuir at the new pitch.
As well as the youth hockey, local coach Lynn Young has launched fun sessions for adults to encourage men and women back into hockey.
These run on the new surface on Tuesday evenings, with all welcome, whether they have played before or not.