After an incredible 22 seasons at the helm of the Invicta Dynamos, Club Director / Secretary Jackie Mason and Game Night Co-ordinator Andy Mason are stepping back from running the club at the close of the campaign with current Head Coach Kevin Parrish and wife Sarah Parrish taking up the mantle.
The transition of ownership is well underway behind the scenes and plans are already afoot for the club going into the 2019/20 campaign.
After the sad demise of the Medway Bears in 1997, fan of the side Jackie Mason soon found herself involved in the group creating a club to take their place. “Dave Hodge and Gary Bayliss formed the Mos” she recalls. “I didn’t actually know Dave but Gary (a former Medway Bear) phoned one evening and asked if I would be interested in becoming Club Secretary. I had a meeting with Dave and somehow at the end of it I was not only Club Secretary for the Mos but also responsible for registrations and fixtures for all the organisation’s teams! I’m still not sure how that happened! A year later Dave stepped down and Sean Clement asked if I would like to run the club and here we are some 20 years later.”
And so began a rollercoaster journey that Jackie Mason would argue contained considerably more ups than downs. On the ice the team have scooped a remarkable 19 honours in 22 seasons – the highlights including an EPL and Playoff victory in 2000/01, a Grand Slam of 4 titles in 2005/06 and a National Title in 2008/09. The most recent was a Playoff victory in 2016/17.
But whilst the success of the team on the ice is ultimately how a side is judged, there is far more to running a club than chasing the ‘W’ each week. “Hockey is what brought us together” says Jackie, “but it’s about being a big family. 20 plus years of hockey has given me both a marriage to my husband Andy, who I first met at a Medway Bears game and has gone on to become heavily involved in running the Dynamos, and fantastic friendships that have stood the test of time. Along the way myself and others also fought off serious illness, sometimes more than once, and tragically lost loved ones. But we did it all together. In the good times we’ve celebrated together, in the bad we’ve rallied together. That’s what the Invicta Dynamos is about.”
Jackie Mason has always wanted the Mos to be a family club and it is therefore fitting that ownership now passes down the family to her son and his wife. Current Head Coach Kevin Parrish scored the team’s first ever goal in their debut game on the Isle of Wight back in 1997 and, after hanging up his skates, has guided the side from the bench from 2004/05. “You won’t find anyone who cares about the fortunes of this club more than Kevin and Sarah” Jackie tells us. “It has been a difficult last two seasons for us as an organisation both on and off the ice but they will battle tirelessly to get the Dynamos back to where they belong. They are enthusiastic about the challenge and have their own exciting plans for the future.”
So after over 20 years of meeting the needs of those who pull on the Dynamos jersey, negotiating league setups, chasing up suppliers, talking deals with ice rink owners and delicately balancing budgets, including often at their own expense, why is now the time for Jackie and Andy Mason to pass on the torch? “I was actually going to retire when I was 60!” explains the current Club Secretary. Now declaring the age of a lady is not the done thing, so we shall abstain from doing so, but that time passed an undisclosed number of years ago. “Then I was definitely going to step back after the 20th season in 2016/17” she adds – but that too never came to fruition. “It’s just the passion of everyone involved that keeps you going and the tremendous support from a really loyal band of volunteers. However, I think if we don’t step back now, we never will and it’s time for us to make more time for ourselves whilst giving Kevin and Sarah their chance to run the club”.
So the immediate future for Jackie and Andy Mason will likely involve more time with the grandchildren and trips to the coast in Cornwall but, after all these years, they find themselves unable to walk away altogether. “We won’t ever stop following the club” Jackie says, “I don’t think we could even if we wanted to! We have so many friends in Gillingham and will still be supporting the team from the stands. It will just be nice to do so without the pressures and financial commitments of running the side.” And would they do it all again? “Yes, for sure” she answers. “Maybe with a few changes but hindsight is a wonderful thing and the journey has unquestionably been worth it”.
Before bowing out, Jackie Mason gave a last message to fans of the club by adding “It has been an incredible run and we’ve been supported by so many good people. Thank you to not only all of those that were with us from the very beginning but also all those that joined us along the way. However long you’ve been with us we’re delighted you chose to become a part of the Dynamos’ family. Please keep supporting the side the way you always have. Please keep making hockey in Gillingham as special as it has been. We’ve said it a hundred times but only because we believe it – you are the best fans in the league.”
Kevin and Sarah Parrish will now assume the roles of Jackie and Andy Mason to ensure the continuation of the Invicta Dynamos in Gillingham with the club set to compete in a restructured NIHL South Division 1 in 2019/20.
“Thanks for the memories!” – Jackie and Andy Mason.