It gets harder and harder every year to establish when one season ends and another begins.  Does the last season end when you play the last league game, the end of season dinner, the AGM or some other hockey related milestone?  With summer league starting in early May and running through to August when pre-season training is already well under way, plus the Olympics to keep us all glued to the exploits of Team GB and seeing if there are any new fancy short corner drills we can copy, the hockey season seems to be the full 12 months of the year now.

As one of the elder generation of club members, I favour the view that the new season begins with the first 70 minute game of proper hockey against opponents away from Adel.  Most teams are therefore already up and running, dusting down the cobwebs on the kit, thanking the lord for the invention of rolling substitutes and making friendships with new team mates and renewing old acquaintances.

Two years ago, the new season was celebrated with the opening of the new astro pitch and this season we have finally welcomed a set of new top of the range goals from Harrod UK.  These are courtesy of everyone who plays in summer league at Adel which give the clubs coffers a healthy boost so thank you for the summer league organisers and all the players for participating.  A bigger vote of thanks needs to go to those dedicated and committed club members who turned up on Thursday evening and Friday morning to help build the Ikea flat pack goals (I have a fear of omitting someone if I mention the names so look at twitter or facebook to see who you should be grateful to!).

Perhaps an indication of the new season being well under way can be summed up by last week. Monday evening saw a meeting of the Executive Committee of the hockey section (I will introduce you to the various members in due course so you know who to approach on various issues).  Tuesday was ladies training night, with the men following suit on Wednesday.  Thursday was the team building exercise of “building your goals for the new season ahead” and finally Friday was junior training which included the added bonus of All Rounder selling the new kit and a presentation to the junior parents by Paul Lewis on the junior coaching structure, integration with the senior teams, player pathway and our expectations from everyone involved.  Then I think there were a few games on Saturday to complete the week.

Taking each of these in turn, the committee meeting began with a meeting with Andy Audsley who is one of the members of the AWMA Executive Council.  We are grateful to Andy for attending at short notice to update us on changing rooms, pitch maintenance, membership subscriptions, parking and kitchen accessibility.  There is more to this hockey mullarkey than meets the eye….  The remainder of the meeting dealt with the more mundane routine matters but the main one to look out for is the request to pay your annual subscriptions on time.  For the club to function properly, we rely on prompt payment of subscriptions so the various expenses over the course of the season can be covered.

A new season brings new faces to Adel and I wish those of you venturing out in your first season in the fluorescent orange and black every success on and off the pitch.  Sadly, we also lose some people at this time of the year as they go out and explore the world beyond Adel.  In particular we wish Helen Goacher well on her travels down under and hope that when she returns the ladies teams have continued the progress made over the last few seasons due to her presence on the field and as ladies captain last season.  We also say goodbye to a number of our talented juniors as they head off to University including Millie Jeavons, Megan Shields and Tom Taylor and we wish them every success with their hockey progress (and their studies!) and hope they are able to return to Adel when back in Leeds and act as good references for any new hockey playing friends they meet at University who end up here once they start work.

I begin my second season as Chairman with the words of my predecessor Greg Hilton still ringing in my ears (I always did listen to him when playing full back with him all those years ago) – “its a three year deal, in the first year you find out what the job is all about, the second year you do what you want to do and in the third year you plan your exit and find your successor”.  He was right about year one, although I hope my legacy is something a bit more than finally getting rid of the old astro turf from the overflow car park.  Two promotions, numerous awards, new goals were perhaps greater achievements although most will have been achieved with less time commitment and grief along the way.

This year, I have 3 ambitions for the club:

  1. To ensure the club provides a healthy, safe and enjoyable experience for all of its members
  2. To raise the image and reputation of the club with those who come into contact with us on and off the field
  3. To strengthen our relationships with all of our stakeholders and external bodies (AWMA, junior parents, other sections at Adel, England Hockey, WY Sport, sponsors and many more).

None of these mention success on the pitch as I firmly believe that if we get the above three right, winning games will naturally follow.  Not sure an upgrade of the dugouts is a natural link but that’s firmly on our agenda when time and money permit.

The ladies 1s have already started the season where they left off with some wins in their pre-season friendlies and finishing 2nd at the North Challenger event this weekend with keeper Sarah McCall being voted player of the final.  The ladies 2s had the honour of playing the first game with the new goals and with a young team and some regular players missing, they put up a determined performance against Harrogate but narrowly lost a ten goal thriller as they ran out of steam on a hot day.  Tina Parsons had the honour of scoring the first goal in the new goals and then “doubled up” by scoring the first goal of the second half in the other goal.  Having scored 4 goals the previous week in a high scoring draw against Driffield, it looks like goalscoring might not be a problem but perhaps Ash and the coaching staff will be focusing on defending at training this week having conceded 10 goals in 2 weeks!  The 3s will have benefitted from a tough game against strong opposition from Rhydding and with several players having stepped up to the 2s they had the opportunity to blood some of the talented juniors coming through from the junior section.  The 4s decided that the new backboards looked too nice to trouble as they played out a competitive 0-0 draw suggesting that they might be practicing shooting practice this week at training!

The mens section have had a few inter club games and with a steady influx of new players, the sides are beginning to take shape.  The 1s had a good win over local rivals Boston Spa last week and they look in good shape to start their title charge this season after narrowly missing out over the last 2 seasons.  New coach Ben Hendley has plenty of time during his period of garden leave to monitor progress, watch the opposition and identify how to get the team back into the Premier League for next season (a bit like Rafa Benitez then).

At the time of writing I have not seen the results from the other mens teams but I would encourage skippers and perhaps other players to post match reports and results on our various social media so the rest of the club can be aware of the cubs wider progress.

Good luck to everyone for the season ahead.  Please remember this is your club and it is run by a dedicated gang of volunteers who go over and above the call of duty to ensure everyone can enjoy their hockey at Adel on a Saturday.  If you think you are able to offer constructive suggestions, financial support, time or anything else please get in touch!