Boys hockey at Adel is thriving. There is a conveyor belt of talent coming through the younger age groups, thanks to a hard core of dedicated volunteers on frozen Friday nights, which is fantastic news for the long term future of the club. Many of the u14 & u16 boys already play in the senior teams on a Saturday. But the u16s still have a couple of tournaments left before they finish their youth hockey careers, and under Simon Sutton’s leadership they are determined to go out on a high.
After winning their first two tournaments of the 2017/18 season, the u16s found themselves in December promoted to division 3. It’s a round robin format, and the boys lost their opening fixture 3-0 to Thirsk. It didn’t help that they were half asleep, but neither did it help that Thirsk were short and borrowed a player, who just happened to be one of the stars of the Leeds HC side. In the second game, Adel won 2-0, with Charlie scoring both against Bradford. This meant the final game was a decider against Leeds, who have a long-established junior set-up and some very good players in their ranks. When Adel conceded a p-flick in the first few minutes, things looked bad. But our u16s had other ideas, and fought for every ball to draw level, and then take the lead 2-1. Charlie again got the goals. The disbelief amongst a classy but complacent Leeds side was palpable – they started to argue with each other, Adel held out for the win, and there were some ironic cheers as their unhappy superstar left the pitch at the end. Leeds got promoted anyway because of a better goal difference, but Adel were safely in second place.
So to February, still in Div 3, and the next round of games, which involved Leeds again, due to some complicated Yorkshire HA nonsense. In the opening match Leeds got their revenge 3-1; they scored their shorts, we missed our chances in open play. In the second game we were up against Thirsk (again), but this time they were playing without a special guest. Adel won 2-0 with goals from Dan and Charlie, and some great keeping from Sholto. And in the final game, Adel turned around an early goal for Wakefield to win 2-1 with more well-taken goals by Charlie and Dan, ensuring the team’s place in Div 3. It’s worth labouring the point: Adel benefit from having a large squad of talented boys who work hard for each other, aren’t prima donnas, and don’t have a strop when things go badly.
There is now one more regular season tournament, at the end of February, and after that a series of play-offs in April to determine the final standings. The question is how high can they go? Depending on the final tournament, they could find themselves competing as one of the top 8 sides in the county. The boys are already guaranteed to finish in a better position than they’ve ever done before. Whatever happens, they will end their u16 career on a real high. But it would be nice to end it even higher…..