Royston Hockey Club season review

Captains share their thoughts on a season of mixed fortunes for the club

THE men’s season didn’t start well when a shortage of players, due to the retirement of several senior players and the loss of a number of the younger generation to University meant the fifth team had to be withdrawn from the league, writes men’s captain, Bob Biddlecombe.

Player shortages dominated the first half of the season as poor availability and a growing list of injuries made it a struggle to field even four teams at times.

The first team, hampered by the lack of a settled side, only managed two wins prior to the Christmas break. Better availability after the break and a more positive attitude enabled the team to turn things around and they finished with a flourish. They were unbeaten in their last five games, including a notable win against the high-flying Potters Bar in the last game of the season.

Hopefully, next season they can continue to improve and start to build towards promotion. Unfortunately, Andy Drage is stepping down as skipper after seven years in charge. Andy has done an excellent job during this time and his thoughtful leadership will be missed.

The second team led the way in Division Five with seven wins from their first eight games and, despite consecutive defeats against the two Stevenage teams, were still handily placed in second place at the Christmas break.

This was achieved despite regularly losing three or four players to the first team. After the break things didn’t go quite so well, but a run of four wins on the trot seemed to seal second place and promotion. However, successive losses to Stevenage meant that a win from the final home game was required to secure second place. This was achieved in great style coming back from two goals down to win 3-2.

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The third team were probably hardest hit by the club’s long list of injuries and poor availability and as a consequence struggled for most of the season. The introduction of a few new players after the Christmas break and a lot of hard work from Keith Markham and Tim Yeo produced a team which made steady progress and in the end were perhaps a little unlucky not to escape relegation.

The reduction in the number of league teams meant the development team (fourth team) had to play two divisions higher than last season.

Well led by Simon Hughes and Pete Belcher, they started positively winning the first two games. Although they were competitive in most matches, losing five matches by only one goal, ultimately the step up in standard proved too much.

This was a very challenging season but overall I think a successful one. The biggest success of the season has been the progress made by the youngsters. Bailey Farmer, Joshua Hughes, Miles Jackson and John Gourd have featured regularly in the IIs’ push for promotion and Michael Priest finished the season in the first team.

Ladies captain, Lisa Thompson, also shares here thoughts about the season:

Well what a great season for the first team. Promotion last season from Division One and they finish their first season in the Premier in second place. Despite key players being injured during the season Vicky Bidwell has done a wonderful job as captain with the support from Ruth Askham but I think the whole basis of why the team has done so well is the great bond that the team has and hard they work together as team through training and games.

It has also helped the great relationship they all have with Paul Visagie and how much they have enjoyed his training sessions despite all the difficulties with the Barracks and not having the pitch to train on.

The ladies IIs had a bit of a mixed season. They were at the bottom of the table at the beginning of the season before slowly pushing their way back to middle of the table. Clare has been a great captain again this season and it has been nice to see youngsters coming up to play for them.

The ladies IIIs is a team with great spirit. Although I haven’t played much this season the team always comes out with a fighting spirit and keeps trying even though they are losing.

Sarah has done very well to captain the side despite losing a number of players to higher teams.

I would personally like to say thank you to all the captains for their support this season.