Rochdale Underwater Hockey Club has had a number of reincarnations over the years.
Our history started with Rochdale Lifesaving and Snorkelling Club in 1972 set up by John Hamnett, but when the snorkelling side got too busy the two parts were split. John carried on with the Lifesaving Club and the Snorkelling club was taken over by Barrie Whitehead in 1975 (who still runs it today) aided by Norman Turner initially and later Debbie Smith, Garry Alexander, Frank Greaves, and Mick and Helen Hyde, these last 4 being still actively involved today. Over the years it has been great to watch those young people gain skills and build confidence and then go on to mentor and inspire other young people. And that made me feel inspired. I am grateful to them because it still does.
Junior snorkelling members started playing underwater hockey in 1979, when a few friendly games were arranged with Batley and Huddersfield teams. At that time we made our own bats, gloves and pucks.
As the junior members grew older they became seniors and an adult team developed. We also attracted adult members from the local Milnrow (now Rochdale) Sub-Aqua club. In 1988 Rochdale Underwater Hockey Club started as an offshoot and the Juniors took the name Rochdale Mantas, the Seniors became Rochdale Aquacrazies. The club agreed to join the British Octopush Association at its 3rd AGM held on 30 April 1990. We currently have 3 teams registered with BOA, Mantas U16 (No 126) Mantas U13’s (No 351) and Aquacrazies (No 235)
Underwater hockey grew more popular and more junior teams began to develop and play locally. Rochdale joined the Yorkshire Underwater Hockey League and played competitive matches against the likes of Sheffield Stingrays, Hoyland Sharks, Batley Argonauts, Sawston Piranhas, Huddersfield Sharks, Farnham Flippers, Thames Valley, and Cliff Park Pikes.
After initially using the small pool at Rochdale baths, and then Gaskell pool at Heywood, the club moved to Oulder Hill School in 1982 where the Juniors remain today. The Senior team moved to Manchester Aquatics Centre in 2006 when Oulder Hill was temporarily closed for refurbishment.
Over the years, members have taken part in several TV programmes promoting the sport, most notably Look North West and Granada Reports in 1989, Don’t Just Sit There in 1990 and It A’int Cricket in 1991.
One member who was Junior team Captain in 2001, Mark Dawson, led the team to become Yorkshire League Champions in 2001 and achieved second place in the UK National Championships. The following year 2002, he was selected to play for the England under 19 squad in the World Championships held in Calgary, Canada, where he became part of the Gold Medal award winning team.
Another member, Janet Robinson was chosen to compete with Europe's best for the England squad in Yugoslavia in 2001. Janet is currently serving as BOA Secretary.
Janet and Mark were subsequently selected for the England squads playing in the 2004 World Championships in New Zealand and were joined by two other members, Adam Morris and Jonny Bostock.
More recently, Zach Tait was called up to play for Team GB in 2015, and again in 2017 together with Rebecca Northover who both played in the World Championships in Tasmania In July 2017. Zach's team, GB u19's men missed out on becoming World Champions by 1 goal.
We now have 7 players taking GB training and hoping to be selected for the 2019 World Championships to be held in Sheffield.