Media facilities at the league finals weekend

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre 22-23 April 2017
Friday, May 5th, 2017
Alan Forsyth of Surbiton versus Holcombe

Alan Forsyth of Surbiton versus Holcombe. Photo: Tim Reder

The Media Centre was located to the right of the main reception with an area cordoned off and a printed sign saying “Accredited Media only”.

There were two rows of tables with chairs provided each side, therefore there were four rows of chairs. Space was fairly cramped, especially where chairs were placed back to back and where the chairs were in front of the cordons. Only the chairs on the window side had any real space behind them and that was minimal. There were times when the seating probably wasn’t sufficient during the day as the journalists were outnumbered by photographers editing their photos, however, I managed to find a space at the end of each day to write my reports for the Surbiton Hockey Club website. I wrote the second Men’s semi-final report using the plug-in internet on the Tribune before the first Women’s semi-final.

There was also a problem outside the Media Centre as part of the cordon was in front of the drinks and snack machines and as this was popular with parents and children, there were times when access would have been blocked unless the people were asked to briefly move. The only other exit was the fire door in the far right corner (viewed from the main entrance doors) but a couple of people gained access by moving the cordons at the reception end.

Toilets were available near the Media Centre but restricted to one men’s toilet, one women’s toilet and one accessible toilet for the disabled. The disabled toilet was used by able bodied people because of the limited facilities, but another toilet was available on the concourse behind the seating in the stadium.

Internet was plug in, the yellow cables could possibly have been assessed as a health and safety risk as the length meant that not only did they run along the table but also at points formed loops under the tables, so it would have been easier than it should have been to get caught up with the cables. It also wasn’t always obvious where the connectors for the computers were for each media space. A couple of the connectors didn’t seem to have been linked to the provided plug in service as at least one connector in the Media Centre linked to the Lee Valley site internet service and asked for log-in details, as did one of the connectors in the Tribune overlooking the pitch. The connectors that did link were fine and the speed of internet was excellent, enabling the England Hockey Altius website to be accessed as necessary throughout the weekend.

There were also electrical sockets, however they seemed to be limited along the row furthest away from the window. There was one circular extension lead and one oblong lead, however I didn’t see the sockets for the table nearest the window.

Within the cordoned off area, there was also a sofa, plus two tables, one larger table for food and a smaller table which was used for drinks. Tea and Coffee wasn’t brought to the area until after the first Promotion Tournament match started on Saturday, but once supplied, was available until taken away a short time after the Women’s final on Sunday evening.  Apparently there wasn’t a spoon in the coffee canister on the first day, but it was certainly there on Sunday. Tea bags were supplied with hot water available from press down cafetieres.

Food was excellent with sandwich lunches being provided at lunchtimes on both days. Pastries were available early on Sunday morning and there was a supply of fruit including oranges, apples and pears. There was also a sweet option with chocolate flapjacks and strawberry slices available during both lunchtimes.

There were a couple of errors in the programme. The Men’s Hockey League Premier Division Team of the Season had Surbiton’s David Goodfield printed twice. In spite of being promised that the missing player would be confirmed at the end of both event days, at the time of writing, I still don’t know what the correct team was, which prevented me from congratulating the Surbiton players who did make the team. I understand that England Hockey were planning to supply a correction after the event at some point.

Also, Giselle Ansley was selected as Surbiton Women’s player to watch, but was inexplicably credited with 21 goals, all penalty corners as the Premier Division’s top scorer, when she actually scored 15 goals of which 2 goals were penalty strokes. The number 15 appears next to her entry in the Team of the Season display, which makes it even more difficult to understand why she is credited with six more goals than she actually scored!

Access to the Press Tribune was easy, ascending the stairs to the left of the reception and through the café to the concourse before entering the Tribune block. It was disappointing to see that there were several empty seats for the showcase event, and this backs up my claim earlier in this report that journalists were outnumbered by photographers.

Travel to the venue was easy, even on Sunday when the London Marathon was taking place. I managed to get from Surbiton to Stratford in around 50 minutes on both days and then took the 308 bus from Stratford City Bus Station to Spitalfields Market. I showed my email to get access to reception on the first day to pick up my accreditation, which was located quickly and easily by the Hockey Maker. Everybody was friendly and helpful.

Whereas there were no security checks on Saturday, a table was located immediately in front of the main entrance on Sunday, but the check didn’t seem to be very thorough as I opened my bag to show my laptop computer and was simply waved through. Whether this was because I had Media Accreditation I don’t know but for the Champions Trophy last summer, I had no objection to having my whole bag searched and I feel that security should have done more, especially considering the recent incident on Westminster Bridge.

In conclusion I thoroughly enjoyed the event, however I am very disappointed with England Hockey’s response regarding the MHL Premier Division Team of the season error and believe that the correction should have been made very quickly as they should have known who the correct 11 players were. The fact that the error wasn’t noticed before the programme went to press isn’t good enough and shows that the programme content wasn’t checked properly.

Colin Pike
Surbiton Hockey Club Press Officer
25 April 2017