THE only way is up for Dunfermline Carnegie Hockey Club after their men's first team were granted an historic promoted into the sport's top tier.

Last month, Scottish Hockey confirmed that, having reached the "unanimous decision" that completing the remaining fixtures of the 2019/20 season would not be possible, league placings would be confirmed on a points-per-game average.

Cup and plate competitions were scrapped and, although the governing body sought "to ensure that no team is negatively impacted by the current circumstances", confirmed that there would "be no teams automatically relegated or promoted this season".

That came as a blow to Carnegie who, in National League Two, were second in the table – only behind leaders Inverleith on goal difference, having played a game fewer – when play was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That decision also had implications for the men's seconds, who were second in Regional League Division Two; Carnegie women's seconds and thirds, who were second in the East District ladies' divisions two and three respectively; and Dunfermline City men's firsts, who were second in East District Division Three.

However, after a proposal for the 2020-21 season put forward by the Scottish Hockey management committee was approved by clubs, Carnegie's men's firsts will benefit with a first promotion into the men's Premiership in the club's 111 year history.

The Scottish Hockey proposal does not cover the district leagues, who are autonomous bodies, and club development officer, Gordon Johnston, explained: "We were notified on Wednesday July 15 by Scottish Hockey that our men's first team squad will be playing at the highest level of hockey this coming season after being promoted to the Scottish Premiership.

"This is the first time the club has ever played at that level and represents many years of hard work and commitment to achieve. It is a fantastic achievement.

"There were various club votes and the votes went down the line of what our elected president had suggested originally, which was that when the season was called, they finished in positions according to points divided by number of games played. I think we finished top of National League Two.

"They (Scottish Hockey) also took the opportunity to reconstruct for next year. They've gone to a 12-team league, and that gives the opportunity for more people to get Premier League experience."

In the first half of the campaign, which is hoped to begin in late September or the start of October, each team will play each other once, while in the second half after Christmas, the plan is for there to be a split of top six and bottom six teams, who would face each other twice.

The club's achievement in earning promotion has come in a challenging year that, in addition the Coronavirus pandemic, saw their base at Woodmill High School hit by a devastating fire in August.

And, although they were able to resume a full adult programme of training and games on the artificial surface at the school, with the help of Community Use Schools and Dunfermline Reign Basketball Club, the men's firsts are facing the prospect of playing their 'home' fixtures outwith Dunfermline next season.

Gordon continued: "Unfortunately, the announcement from Scottish Hockey also made clear that all the squad's games in the Premiership would have to be on a top grade, water-based synthetic surface, none of which exist in Fife.

"This will mean that the club will have to play its 'home' games outwith Fife, probably in Edinburgh and Stirling, and be the only Premiership club who has to play home games outside its local area.

"The pitch at Woodmill, when its wetted, is actually good enough but the problem is there's no way you can get hoses there and wet it. It's a ruling they have and there's just nothing you can do about it.

"It's not so much the loss of home advanatge, it's the extra travelling that's required. It is an amateur sport; the guys have got families and work, so it takes a helluva lot of commitment and just adds a wee bit extra to what they've got to do to be competitive.

"Everybody knew that was what the situation could well have been, so we just have to grab hold as best we can and see what happens."

The club have said that they looking to make contact with councillors, Dunfermline and West Fife Sports Council and Fife Council to investigate the possibility of such a surface being installed in the future.