TRIBUTES have been paid to a stalwart of hockey in Hampshire for more than half a century, writes Mike Vimpany.

Mike Ward, who passed away while awaiting heart surgery in a Bournemouth hospital aged 79, was a key and hugely respected figure in the sport across the South.

He held countless voluntary roles for national and county hockey associations, many as chairman, and had only recently stepped down as Hampshire HA chairman.

A well known figure on club touchlines tutoring umpires, Mike was awarded England Hockey’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 in recognition of his phenomenal contribution to hockey.

Upon receiving his award at a London dinner, he said he was “taken aback, totally surprised and almost emotional. I had absolutely no idea it was coming.

“I’m generally not one for awards but feel immensely proud to have been recognised by England Hockey in this way. First and foremost, I’m an administrator and thoroughly enjoy all I do for the game.”

He was a lawyer by profession and managed discipline across Hampshire and the South, granting him great respect.

Mike pioneered the formation of League hockey, chairing the South League structure for 49 years until a recent restructure.

He also chaired Hampshire Hockey association for a similar period including the amalgamation of the Men’s and Ladies associations.

He used to play in goal for Bournemouth on the grass pitches at Kinson and represented Hampshire on occasions.

After retiring from playing, he moved into umpiring, officiating at at least one county cup final.

He also served on the management committee of England Hockey and accompanied the England team on several trips in the 80s.

Fareham chairman Colin Bradbury said: We will remember him as a great servant to Hampshire clubs, in particular; someone who would represent our interests further afield.”

He was also a willing and entertaining after dinner speaker, singing for his supper at numerous club functions, usually in return for a decent bottle of red wine!

Bradbury added: “He was a great administrator over many years who is a sad loss from the hockey family."