“I am looking forward to getting my life back!”
The new season will soon be here and we are happy to announce that 2017-2018 will see a new kit supplier and some additional items for sale besides the usual playing and training kit. The Club committee has taken on board the membership’s concerns regarding quality, pricing, and – particularly - service, and following a rigorous and thorough tender process has appointed O’NEILLS as Blackheath & Elthamians supplier with immediate effect. It was probably a good time to do this too, as the new name and badge meant that some form of change was necessary anyway.
Here are the ten key questions you may have for the coming season:
So what’s new, and what isn’t?
Well … if you bought kit last season and want to get a bit more wear out of it first, the new playing strip is sufficiently similar to the old one for you to continue doing so. The new playing shirt has some subtle improvements and embellishments, however, and it is nearly 20% cheaper than its predecessor, so check it out. Every effort has been made to present both Blackheath and Eltham elements in the design, so “1861” is prominent as a watermark on the front, whilst “Be Proud, Be Worthy” appears on the tail at the back ….. so don’t tuck your shirts in! As a Club policy decision going forward, we are consciously moving away from named shirts and initials/numbers on shorts and skorts, as the amount of “customisation” was becoming problematic from a manufacturing perspective and it was actually starting to look a bit messy and inconsistent on-field too. This is not the case for any leisure/training wear, however, where personalisation and initialling will be encouraged, as before.
There is a greater variety of training gear, other items such as bobble hats and kit-bags are now available, and there are even two hoodie designs, one similar to the existing one, the other a slightly cheaper bright red one. And everything bears the new Club logo – simple, clean and white (apart from on the white away shirt, that is).
Can I keep my current playing number?
If you wish to, yes. As always, some players move on at season’s end, so quite a few “lower” existing squad numbers may have become available for “recycling” since the end of 2016-2017.
What is the online ordering system like?
Only time will tell … it looks good, O’NEILLS have lots of web-shop experience, and – most importantly – your orders will turn up to your home address quicker and with no “monthly cut-off date” restrictions, so you can order whenever you like.
What are the prices like compared to before?
Some items (like socks) are similarly priced to their predecessors, whilst others are broadly comparable. The majority of playing and training kit, however, is noticeably cheaper, in most cases by around 20%, with signature items such as the new red hoodie proving exceptionally good value.
Will there be any kit “bundles” on offer?
In short, no. We took the decision to keep individual garment prices as competitive as possible, so that members can buy what they want and when they want it. It would therefore have been difficult to offer much in the way of further savings on the published BEHC list prices. But just for the record, buying the items individually online will actually cost no more than the bundle prices from last year: for example, a men’s numbered home shirt + shorts + socks will cost £61.00, just as the “home bundle” did previously, which just shows that we are getting far better value this season.
Why were O’NEILLS selected and who are they?
This is NOT the same company as O’NEILL (without the S) who manufacture surf gear, or O’NEILL’S (with the apostrophe) who run pubs! O’NEILLS are based in Northern Ireland and provide kit across a wide range of different sports, not just hockey. In this country they are particularly active in Rugby League (kitting out the likes of St. Helens, Huddersfield and Widnes) and are the official supplier of EFL League 2 football team Wycombe Wanderers. The Irish T20 cricket team also played against England earlier this summer sporting a green O’NEILLS kit. They were selected because they manufacture all their own garments, hold large stocks of key items and have the critical mass to supply a club of our size without suffering either constant shortages or sacrificing quality.
Is the junior kit better than before?
We received quite a bit of feedback from members of the junior section that our younger players would much prefer having playing kit that is more similar to the senior clothing and not just an “economy” shirt. Hopefully we have managed to achieve this goal, as the new red shirt is a virtual replica of the senior version, minus a collar but plus the different shirt sponsor. Despite the enhancements we have managed to persuade the manufacturer to keep the base cost of this shirt down to £20.00, which is good news. Otherwise, all other kit items are available, identical to the senior versions and generally cheaper than before.
When can I start ordering stuff online?
We shall let you know via the website (and a hyperlink) when the on-line shop is open for business, but we hope it will be within the next few days , which means that everyone should be able to get their new kit in time for the new season in late September / early October.
What are the sizes and fit like – will there be fitting sessions as before?
O’NEILLS base their measurements on “European sizing”, so their garments may be similar in fit to M&S, i.e. relatively generously cut, but beware … the men’s shirt, for instance, is a relatively slim-line fitting, so size “L” probably does mean large, nothing more. The shorts, however, are definitely “big”, and quite a few first-team players have opted for a combination of L shirts and M shorts. There is detailed measurement information on the O’NEILLS website and the Club does have a range of playing kit in most sizes to try on if you are in doubt as to what will fit you best. There will be occasional “fitting sessions” at the Club, probably starting at Trials Day on Saturday, September 9, 2017, and these will be advertised in advance. It is impossible to stock every size in every leisurewear garment, as this would run into 100+ pieces of clothing for us to hold, but there should be enough examples of kit to sort out most sizing issues. There will be no “on site” purchases, however – everything needs to be ordered and paid for online.
So it will all be perfect, right?
Any change of supplier means that there will inevitably be a few teething problems, but the Club is confident after its due diligence process that we are now dealing with a kit manufacturer who will deliver better long-term value, service and quality.
Watch this space …
Updated 20:29 - 7 Sep 2017 by Matt Wilde