The end of the traditional season has arrived for most of us with the AGM and the Club Dinner taking place next week, and whilst the Ladies 1s (and potentially the 2s if the 1s are successful) are still competing in play off matches, I wanted to record a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to the success on and off the pitch at Adel this season.

The vast majority of our members join the club to play hockey on a weekend but matches cannot be arranged without sterling efforts from a group of people who work tirelessly to ensure everyone’s games go ahead as planned and as smoothly as possible.  Our fixture secretaries spend a lot of time before the start of the season arranging dates, times and venues so a huge thank you to Ian Phillips and Rachel Barson for helping to “make it happen”.

The skippers work hard (some more than others!) to get teams out to play at weekends and then create a team to compete and hopefully socialise off the pitch to generate that all important team spirit.  A few of our skippers are stepping down this season so thank you for their efforts and I hope you are all able to pass on your wisdom to your successors next season.  Our club captains, Helen and Paul also work hard every week to make sure we have a consistent approach to selection that is fair to everyone as well as providing the necessary guidance and support to the team skippers when needed.

The biggest development I have seen over the last year has been the quality of our coaching at all levels.  This feeds through to training attendance which in turn leads to better results on the pitch as the ladies section in particular can testify.  Thank you to Sam, Paul and Ben for the ladies coaching and to Robin for the mens coaching where we have seen greater numbers attending training and whilst not quite sharing the same level of success as the ladies sides, the mens teams have competed well.  Robin is moving on to pastures new next season so he goes with our thanks for his efforts during his time at Adel where as well as coaching he has stepped in as a player (in and out of goal), an umpire when needed and a valuable support to the 1s skipper over the years.  Whilst these guys might be more of the tacticians in our coaching set up, we are also fortunate to benefit from Jenny and Phil at Primal Scream for getting everyone’s fitness levels up to the required standards (I am just relieved I no longer play looking at some of the sessions).

One of our greatest assets is our junior section which is now a well established and successful model to the envy of a number of other clubs in the area.  Pam has led this for too many years to mention and her award for Participation Coach at the Leeds Sports Awards in March was thoroughly deserved in view of both her time commitment and also the volume of players coming through to represent the senior teams and go on to higher recognition.  Our challenge is to now get them back when they finish at University!  Perhaps even more pleasing is the growth in the boys section under the guidance of Simon Sutton ably supported by an enthusiastic group of volunteers and parents (some of whom have been persuaded out of retirement to play in the Mens Vets team too).  After a few years of struggling to get boys teams out for the YYHL games we now have 2 under 12 teams and a core squad of 20 boys at under 14s with many of them starting to progress to senior hockey.  This is vital to the ongoing success of our club if we can grow our own players from our junior teams.

Umpiring is a thankless task (trust me…) and until you have had a go at doing it then I doubt you will realise the challenges you face.  We are fortunate to have a number of “full time” umpires who do multiple games for the club on a weekend, in particular Nick Morris, Richard Poll and David Hall.  We also benefit from the work done by Gaby and Sam to foster better relationships with other umpires like Simon Ball, Dave Copley, Darren Schofield and Scott Riley who willingly help us out around their other commitments.  But even more helpfully a number of players have started to pick up a whistle and give something back to the club with the likes of Rich Bingham, the Blyth sisters, Simon Studholme and many more finding out that playing is the much easier option!  With a few of our umpires often tied up with neutral scheme appointments all umpires are gratefully appreciated.

Behind the scenes the Committee meet regularly and sort out all sorts of problems – teas, changing rooms, old astro removal, finances, YHA relationships… the list is endless and new ones keep cropping up to add to it.  A huge thank you to Laura Summers who is stepping down at the end of this season as Secretary after several years in the role for arranging meetings and her liason work with the YHA on our behalf.  Jac Smith looks after our finances with eagle eyes to make sure we spend our cash wisely and prioritise as well as making sure (along with Katy and Anna Blyth) that membership and match fees are paid on time by everyone – this season has been exceptional in this regard and it makes a huge difference.

On the social side Gaby works tirelessly to make sure our off field activity is not overlooked and the flagship end of season dinner will be thanks to Gabys planning and organisation (and hassling!) along with Clare Hesslewood providing support to her so that we can hopefully celebrate our success and have a great night together as a club.

Our teas have been capably managed by Emily Harley and Neil Evans was instrumental in us finally starting to dispose of the old astro – much to the relief of the cricketers, the local church and council and the AWMA Executive!

The hockey section is of course part of a wider community at Adel and we are grateful for the support of the AWMA Council and Executive who have helped raise the bat at Adel in terms of the pitch and wider facilities.  This is an area I am keen to progress so that we can benefit from stronger relationships with the other sections at Adel.

I sometimes feel as though we are drowning in a sea of emails and paperwork but in this day and age its vital that we have a robust structure to our club and we follow the established guidelines and procedures.  Paul Lewis and Bridget Petty have been a huge factor in this area applying for grants, making sure we meet child protection requirements, improving our club image with the wider Yorkshire hockey community and England Hockey.  This was backed up when we were awarded Clubs First Status which recognises us as being a safe and healthy environment to play hockey.

Looking further afield, a number of our local rivals have also had successful seasons with promotions for several Leeds teams, Ben Rhydding and Leeds Beckett Uni excelling in the BUCS competitions.  Its great to see such a strong hockey scene in our area but this makes it all the more important that we provide an excellent place on and off the pitch for our members in view of the competition on our doorstep.  We also have great relationships with GSAL who provide training facilities for our juniors but also a healthy pipeline of talented junior players for the club.

I am sure there are some people I have overlooked above and my apologies as this is not intended.  I am also sure there are many of you who perhaps read this and feel as though you could put your hand up and get more involved next season – please do, all offers are gratefully received and we will find a role for you somewhere.

For now, well done to everyone for making my first year as Chairman enjoyable and not giving me as many sleepless nights as I anticipated.  I hope to see you at the AGM next week and then at the dinner on 16th April and then at one of the summer league fixtures (capably organised by Sam and Pam among other duties they carry out!).

Enjoy the summer.

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