At last the weather decided to play fair but it was clear the Adel reputation had spread around the county and three of our opponents conceded their games earlier in the week. Looking at the league results on the YHA website, it appears there were around a dozen teams unable to raise a side whilst at Adel our ladies 3s and 5s seemed to have a squad the size of an American football team – we must be doing something right at the moment.
Adel has always struck me as a family club and this weekend highlighted this in many ways. The ladies 2s began with the early slot, thereby giving them the maximum drinking time to celebrate their league victory. Opponents, Brigg in an unusual purple shirt colour instead of their usual green, brought a strong team who played some good hockey but young Stella in goal thwarted them on several occasions. When Adel did go on the attack the usual goal threat from Katie Wood broke the deadlock and she doubled the lead in the second half before Jenny Hopkins wrapped up proceedings with a good old fashioned short corner strike that nearly broke the backboard. Who needs fancy drag flicks, slip moves and knee slides at the far post….
Whilst there is still a final league game to play on Tuesday evening against Harrogate, the 2s celebrated in style as a variety of pictures will testify. The game was also the last Saturday match for Adel for 2 of the younger team members who will be leaving for University hockey next season. Anna Shields and Sophie Lancaster have been 2 of the regulars for the last couple of seasons and will be sorely missed – partly as dick of the day voting may now be a more open contest and partly due to their ability and teamwork on the pitch, assuming they can find sticks, skirts and other essential attire for a hockey match. The 2s have benefitted from the Shields family for the last five years with sister Megan having been a regular prior to her departure to University a few years ago and the contribution and support from Dad, Colin on the sidelines will be sorely missed too. You are of course still welcome to come along and cheer on the Oranges next season Colin!
A depleted ladies 1s team then took on Bowdon 2s in a crunch match where any points for Adel would be well received in their relegation fight. Bowdon are a strong club with a national league first team, featuring several with international experience and their 2s had some talented youngsters with plenty of skill. A couple of early goals for Bowdon in the first 10 minutes could have seen Adel heads drop but under new skipper April Fowden the team rallied back, won a penalty stroke that was coolly converted by Jaclyn Smith and then Adel pressed hard grabbing an equaliser before the half time break. Bowdon had managed to upset the umpires and some indiscipline saw them reduced to 10 players on several occasions giving Adel some hope to use the extra player to their advantage. Sadly, the 3rd goal would not come for Adel and Bowdon eventually scored 2 more to win out 4-2. The good news for Adel was that rivals Lymm had lost to Chester so Adel remain in 10th place but Lymm still have a final game against Newcastle University where a win for Lymm would see them leapfrog Adel and potentially consign Adel to relegation. Fingers crossed the Uni students manage to raise a strong team over Easter holidays and the exam season. The 1s may have been missing the Blyth sisters but the family were still represented at the match with Mum and Dad coming along to do their last game as TD for the ladies 1s, a thankless task that is very much appreciated.
The 1.30 slot saw the mens 1s entertain York 2s with the potential for the perfect season of 22 wins from 22 games the target. York had a bare 11 with no substitutes but they had taken a point off Bradford a few weeks ago so they were clearly more than capable of providing an upset. A slow hesitant start saw York sit back and soak up the pressure, allowing Adel plenty of the ball but creating few real chances. When the deadlock was broken it came from the unlikely source of Chris Green stepping up to drag flick a penalty corner into the net (well actually just over the line by a few inches) at the second attempt. A huge sigh of relief all round and York would now need to open up and try and get back into the game. This is exactly what they did and from their second penalty corner their left back drag flicked a shot that keeper Josh Berry managed to get a glove on but only onto the defender on the line who was then unable to prevent the ball crossing the line. A 1-1 scoreline at the interval meant there was still some work to be done and whilst York would inevitable tire the Adel forwards knew they needed to be more clinical in the second half. Normal service was soon resumed with a Sam Harris hat trick, a Will Purdy tap in and the goal of the game from Paul Watkins seeing the 1s complete their season with a 6-1 win and a 100% record. Fair play to York who made things difficult especially in the 1st half but who were also generous with their congratulations at the end of the game and a fitting guard of honour.
Sadly the 5s game v Hallam and the 3s game v Halifax were conceded so the players had an enjoyable 7-a-side game ahead of a very entertaining end of season 5th team awards evening in the bar, superbly orchestrated by John Holden who summed up everything that has been brilliant about this team this year. With nearly 10 or so under 14 and 16s in their squad throughout the season, its been a pleasure to see several of them already progress to higher teams and not look out of place. The wise old heads of Hedge, Ball, Palenski, Akroyd, Poll and Holden along with the internationals of Margerison and Phillips to give tales from their globe-trotting travels have clearly passed on their experience and in return the young lads have done the running for the old men on the pitch. Top scorer Max Holley looks an exciting young prospect in the Sniffer mould, goalkeeper Mikey McWilliams has the confidence and vision to progress higher and others like George, Tom, Matty, Murf, Finlay and Joe will all come back next season the better for this years experience. The 5s have had a few father and son combinations this season with the Polls, Hedges, Balls and Holdens all represented at the same time and the Akroyd brothers continue to turn out and play or umpire most weeks.
The 4s away game saw them win narrowly at Bradford 2-1 with their league title already secured. Lets hope winning the league this season sees them actually promoted to a higher division! The teams success over the last couple of years has been built around a core of enthusiastic and committed players who then rely on the guile and experience of Sibbers, Crocker senior and Miles at the back to snuff out any goal threats. The one side to overcome this back line the most times this season was our own 5th team who managed to put 5 goals past them over their 2 games. This week Nic Crocker was not in the 4s due to a player shortage higher up the club for the 2s who had a tricky final away game at Harrogate who would be keen to avenge their loss at Adel before Christmas. Nic happily made up the numbers for the 2s to play alongside younger son Ed and prospective son-in law James Stroomer with Nic having first played for Adel 2s over 30 years ago in the days of green and gold. The 2s had also taken the chance to blood a couple of our talented under 14s who have made huge steps this season and Joe Greer and Charlie Sutton will be all the better for the experience of playing at a higher level which I expect will be the norm for them next season. Charlie follows in big brother Joe’s footsteps who went on to play for the 1s before heading to Uni and I am sure Charlie will be heading in the same direction with his silky skills and goal threat a welcome asset to any team. A 4-1 defeat shouldn’t take anything away from the 2s best season in a long time under Edd Holford and they look well placed to do well next season in Yorkshire Division 1.
The ladies 3s and 5s managed to find some opponents willing to give them a game and both came back with impressive victories away from home. League positions are not everything and both teams have shown great enthusiasm and improvement across the season with changing personnel not helping their causes but a good time has been had by everyone in the right spirit.
The club was a fantastic place to be on Saturday evening with celebrations going on late into the night across all our teams. In some cases, I suspect it was simply a warm up for Easter tour to Blackpool, in other cases it was to say a fond farewell to people leaving the club for pastures new and in others it was to enjoy the moment with the team mates who have helped achieve so much across an outstanding season.
The season doesn’t ever end of course, there is an Easter tour, a few final games to fit in, an AGM, an end of season dinner and then summer league throughout May, June, July and August. With many of our teams stepping up to a higher league, fitness will be key come September and I expect the pre-season fitness training to be well attended.
And finally, this is probably the last weekly round up for this season – as Chairman its a lot easier to have the enthusiasm to write reports when there is so much success to share and celebrate but what has been encouraging is that those teams who have perhaps not had the level of success they hoped for at the start of the season, have still supported the other teams and shared in their success. There was a fine example of this on Saturday when the ladies 2s ended their game and the ladies 1s began their warm up but still had time to offer their congratulations to their fellow club members. Its been a pleasure to watch so many games at Adel this season, see some bright and talented youngsters progress up the teams but see some people who have been at Adel longer than me still enjoying their games and reminiscing in the bar afterwards. The challenge for me, the committee and all the members is to try and maintain the momentum of the last few seasons to continue to take the club forward to bigger and better things. It won’t be easy, there are no guarantees but I am quietly confident that with the Adel spirit, commitment and teamwork we have as much chance of success as any other club in the area. Well done everyone.