‘We’re a massive club – I’d like to see us back in the Premiership’ – new Havant Hockey Club head coach James Morris

James Morris in action for Havant. Picture: Keith WoodlandJames Morris in action for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland
James Morris in action for Havant. Picture: Keith Woodland
James Morris is on a mission to get Havant Hockey Club back into the top-flight after taking on first team head coach responsibilities.

And he hopes the formation of his new-look coaching set up can help create better links between the club's 2nd and 1st XIs.

Morris, who has been with Havant for the past two pandemic-hit National League Division One South seasons, has stepped up to take on head coach duties while also continuing to play.

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The 31-year-old - currently head of hockey at Dorset’s Bryanston School - has appointed fellow player Craig Duffy as his assistant head coach while Alex Leach will assume responsibilities overseeing Havant's 2nd XI.

New Havant head coach James WilsonNew Havant head coach James Wilson
New Havant head coach James Wilson

Morris felt bringing the trio of like-minded thinkers together was important as he now prepares for a promotion push.

Despite Havant being rooted to the foot of the Division One table when 2020/21 was cancelled because of Covid-19, he has high hopes.

And he revealed his ultimate goal is to get the first team back into the Premier League for the first time since 2008-09.

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Morris said: ‘One of the aims is to get the second team up as high as we can to build a good support for the first team.

‘The other thing I’m looking for is we should be pushing for promotion.

‘We’re a massive club on the south coast, if not the biggest.

‘Whether it’s this year or the next few years, I’d like to see Havant back in the Premiership.

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‘Knowing the squad we’ve got, we’ve got an opportunity to do that this year, not that it’s easy - it’ll take a lot of hard work.

‘I’d like to see both Havant’s first and second team progress up the leagues and cement ourselves as the number one south coast club.’

Morris admitted he had no pressing plans to become a head coach but felt the opportunity Havant offered was one he couldn't refuse.

He has previous experience coaching Southampton University's boys and girls teams while he currently mixes his role as a PE teacher at Bryanston School with overseeing the hockey programme.

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But Morris believes having been at the club for a couple of seasons, and the fact he'll have a chance to settle into his role in the upcoming Elite Summer League (ESL) event, will help make the transition easier.

He added: ‘Because I’ve played I know the guys and I’ve got a better idea of the DNA of the club. Promoting from within and the style of play, it matches how I like hockey to be played and how I think promotion should be within clubs.

‘For me, having that knowledge of the club and having that environment to be able to walk straight into that helps me significantly. I’ve got a better rapport with the players, a better understanding of our aspirations and goals so it really has helped.

‘It (ESL) lends a really good opportunity to build on what happened last year.

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‘Integrate new players, give some of the youngsters an opportunity to experience - I imagine it’s not going to be at the speed of an actual league game, but it’s going to be competitive and hopefully it’ll kickstart some of us into thinking about the season a bit earlier.

‘It’s a great opportunity to start embedding some of the principles and the style of play I’d like us to adapt.

‘It’s a great opportunity and it’s really good to be able to have a look at people without the pressure of the league - youngsters, seniors, new boys, people who have been there a few years - that in itself will be great.'

Havant begin the five-team 'Elite Summer League' at local rivals Fareham on Thursday (Henry Cort School, 7.45pm). Other clubs competing are Chichester, Guildford and Brighton.