12:00pm Saturday 5th October 2013
TWO hockey players who have gained international honours have returned to their roots with Wotton-under-Edge.
Dave Newns, a former Welsh international, was part of the highly successful Wotton first team who climbed steadily through the local league structure in the 1990s and early 2000s has rejoined from Bristol-based Firebrands in the National League, where he was captain for the last two years.
James Wells-French has also opted for a second spell with Wotton.
The goalkeeper began playing hockey at Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School and was also part of the Wotton side in the 2000s, with five years as captain.
Wells-French was a junior England international who also played at top-flight club level in the 90s, including spells at Teddington, where he secured a National League winners medal and was part of the team that were runners-up in the HA Cup.
Alistair Hammond and Ryan Howarth have also returned to Wotton colours this season.
Hammond came through the club’s ranks as a junior before four years at Exeter University HC, while Howarth, formerly of Lydney, played for the club from 2004-2009 before a successful stint with Gloucester City in the Premiership of the David Wood Hockey League.
The high-profile signings coincide with the club playing home games in the town for the first time in its history with the opening of a new artificial turf pitch ahead of their 25th anniversary in 2014.
Wotton chairman Stuart Emms said: “We are thrilled that these players have chosen to don the royal blue again.
“We always felt that once we had our own pitch that some of these players would return.
“They are all excited by the new facility we have on our doorstep and by both the inclusivity and the ambition of their home town club.
“Our younger players, and the club as a whole, will only benefit from their wealth of top level experience.
“But it’s not just at the top level that the club continues to move forward and develop; recent hockey taster sessions for both adults and children new or returning to the game have proved very popular.
“In particular the club is delighted that it has been able to introduce the game to so many children from the local area.”
To find out more about Wotton under Edge HC, visit www.wottonhockeyclub.org or contact chairman Stuart Emms on 07974 256380.
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