Out in the Field with our Herald reporter: Falling out of love...

FOOTBALL is my first love – always has been, always will be – but as one of the 6,200 Brighton fans who traipsed back from Liverpool last Sunday with their collective tail between their legs, it isn’t a relationship I am particularly fond of at the moment.

Like a teenager stood up at the school prom, the Albion’s Anfield experience left me feeling distraught, stupid and more than a little embarrassed. My beloved Brighton were lucky to lose 6-1. It could have been ten. The one single saving grace however was the fact that it was the five times European champions that we were going out to and not, like in previous years, such footballing powerhouses as Mansfied and Lincoln. I think that is what they call progress.

The unceremonious exit of Brighton & Hove Albion is not what I want to talk about however. Ranking slightly lower than football (but slightly higher than my wife) in my affections is the sport of ice hockey. I ruddy love it. It is fast, physical and takes far too much skill for me to ever consider taking up. But, and here is the rub, despite all its obvious attractions, you cannot watch it anywhere in Sussex.

On Wednesday night I had to head straight from work to Guildford in Surrey to watch the Flames take on Manchester Phoenix. And I will not be the only proud Sussexman there. Dozens of people head up to the Spectrum from the south coast for home games, with plenty more saying they would throw their support behind a local team if only there was one.

There is currently not a single ice rink in the entire county. That is shameful. Almost every town now gets one of those temporary festive ones at Christmas time. And, nine times out of ten, they are booked up solid.

The nearest rink, apart from Guidlford, is in Gillingham. Hastings used to have one but it shut.

Wouldn’t it be great if Eastbourne could lead the way and build one right here on the Sunshine Coast? Maybe the powers that be could incorporate one among the new plans for the Crumbles?

That way local youngsters – so often left with nothing to do in their spare time – would have somewhere safe to hang out. And, more importantly, I wouldn’t have to travel an hour-and-a-half to watch hockey. I can see it now, ‘Tonight here at the Crumbles rink in Eastbourne, the Sussex Sabres take on the Slough Jets’. It does not get more glamorous than that.

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AS THE reporter charged with covering the health service I have been treated to some behind the scenes tours of the DGH for a series of features I am writing. Everyone in Eastbourne is well aware of the troubles faced by the trust running the DGH, but having seen staff working close-up, I can reassure you that the people working on the floor are as dedicated, talented and professional as any you will find elsewhere. Management may have its issues, but the town should be very proud of those who spend every working minute ensuring patients remain safe, healthy and ultimately, help them get better. We are lucky to have them.

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MENTAL health charity Mind says its charity shop here in Eastbourne is running low on stock. Many other stores are reporting the same. Times are tough and no doubt people are perhaps putting off replacing things - meaning unwanted items don’t get donated quite so often. However, times are increasingly tough for charities - with many having their funding cut while demand increases. Mind is a superb charity which does amazing work. If anyone has any old books or bits and bobs, please take them to the Mind shop. They will be hugely grateful and, with one in four people estimated as suffering from mental illness, chances are you might end up indirectly helping someone you know.