Havant stalwart Stephen Downham has been named chairman of the Hampshire Hockey Association.
He has taken the reins from Mike Ward, who retired at the county’s annual general meeting last month.
Downham and his family have had a long association with Havant and are much-valued members of the club.
Unsurprisingly, the Barncroft Way outfit are proud of his elevation to the top job in the Hampshire game.
Downham first played for Havant in 1968 – taking on the role of goalkeeper while still at school.
He played football in his youth but also picked up a hockey whenever the opportunity arose.
Upon leaving school, Downham played football for Emsworth in the Sussex Premier League.
However, he broke his ankle in a cup match and returned to hockey during his recovery.
His sister, who played in the club’s ladies ranks, talked him into turning out for the mixed team run by Gwyneth Davies.
In his first season, Downham played left-back in front of a young keeper – Bill Jones, who went on to become Havant chairman.
As a frequent scorer, he then played up front where he remained for much of his club hockey.
Downham played for every men’s team in the club – in every position – throught the years.
Following a back injury sustained during a match in Holland, he had to call time on his playing career.
Downham picked up the whistle, though, and has been umpiring for Hampshire for more than 14 years.
He has recently been coaching umpires and last season was appointed by the National Programme Umpiring Association as match delegate for both east and west conference games.
Downham first joined the Hampshire committee around 1982, when Mike Ward was president and Peter Coote was also involved.
Between then and 1992 he was county secretary and for part of that period was treasurer.
All this was before the men and women’s associations merged.
He rejoined the Hampshire ranks in 2009 and since 2011 has served as Chris Bond’s deputy as discipline officer.
Meanwhile, Downham has held several positions at Havant – and some more than once, including club captain and secretary.