Its been an eventful few seasons for our men’s 1st team in their quest for promotion to the new Yorkshire & North East Premier League and before that to the higher echelons of the old North Hockey leagues.  Back in 2014/15, the team had been relegated into the old Yorkshire Division 1 after a disappointing few seasons.  Player commitment and availability was perhaps not as you might expect at first team level and after some success in the mid-2000’s the team was losing identity and direction.

A change of leadership for the 2014/15 season saw Nathan Hemming take over as skipper and Ben Hendley move to the dug out as the Head Coach.  Gradually, the team began to understand the style of hockey they wanted to play, commitment levels improved, greater unity on and off the pitch, admittedly helped by improved results, and some competition for places with an improving 2nd team helped set the team on a road to where they are today.

Not everything went to plan in the first couple of years, with 2 third place finishes, the team missed out on promotion back to the Yorkshire Premier League but year on year the squad improved with new recruits but also a successful pipeline of homegrown junior talent progressing through the senior sides.

In 2014/15 the 3rd place finish saw Grimsby and Harrogate 2s finish above them in the promotion spots.  The next season, playing on the new Astro surface at Adel the team again fell just short with another 3rd place finish as Rotherham and Lindum 2s were promoted.  However, the team managed to score 101 league goals in 22 games and were also tighter at the back.  An improvement at both ends of the park but still no promotion.

In 2016/17 things fell into place with 20 wins, 1 draw (against Slazengers) and one defeat (away to Hull) and a first place finish with promotion back to the Yorkshire Premier League finally secured.  Another 100+ goals in a league season, but the stability of the leadership team, the improved training attendance and the greater commitment from within the squad was paying dividends.  With the 4th team also winning their league, the club was moving forwards, but also starting to attract new players from other clubs.

In the 2015/16 season, the ladies 1st team had achieved the perfect season with 22 wins from 22 games and a 100% record that was topped off with being awarded England Hockey Team of the Year at the national awards evening.  They were already playing in the North leagues and provided an incentive and target for the men to aim for.  In 2017/18 the men’s 1s ran away with the Yorkshire Premier League title with a 100% record, despite a strong challenge from Bradford that went all the way to the wire. 100 goals a season was becoming the norm, but the team reached new heights, scoring 139 league goals, aided by a trio of goal hungry forwards (Ball, Harris and Moorhouse) keen to do battle with Will Purdy for the top goalscoring spot in the team.  Having some players with national league experience provided the rest of the team with role models to follow, some fresh ideas and a strong work ethic was a key factor in the team’s runaway success.

Promotion to the North -East division 2 required more travelling, organisation and commitment but the team rose to the challenge in the 2018/19 season finishing up in a credible 4th spot and giving league winners, Sheffield Hallam a couple of great games along the way.  The open and attacking style of play saw the team notch up the now expected 100 goals for the 4th season in a row, although the 79 goals conceded perhaps showed where the team’s priorities lay, but you were always guaranteed an entertaining game with an abundance of goals!

The dream leadership team of Hemming and Hendley decided that after 5 years it was time to pass over to some fresh blood for the season ahead and with Simon Ball carrying a long term injury, he was well placed to move into a dug out role alongside new skipper James Stroomer.  The 2019/20 season was basically a two horse race for the title between Adel and Brigg that went right down to the last game.  Sadly, the last game was never played due to the consequences of covid, leaving Brigg with a game left that they had to win to pip Adel to the title.  League rules made no provision for such a situation and eventually the league committee decided that the final Brigg game was not going to be played in time, so the final league positions were decided on an average points per game played.  Adel’s 60 points from 22 completed games (average points of 2.73) saw them miss out by 0.03 of a point as Brigg (58 points from 21 completed games with average points of 2.76) were awarded the title.  Elsewhere in the country, other leagues finishing in the same situation would have seen Adel awarded the title but the 2 league defeats to Brigg had been costly and meant the team had to go into the 2020/21 season keen to not let the same thing happen again.  Another 100+ league goals showed the all round scoring threats across the forward line, but another pleasing aspect was the big improvement in the defensive record, conceding only 29 goals.

As most people will now know, the 2020/21 season was curtailed in November as the country entered another lockdown and the season was effectively written off.  Adel were top of the table after the 5 games they had played with 5 straight victories under new coach, Martin Sutherland, but it was going to take something like coronavirus to stop the team from scoring another 100 goals and despite some friendly fixtures against Harrogate, York and Ben Rhydding from higher leagues, the season ended in huge disappointment.  What had been pleasing was the integration of several of the talented junior players into the squad who were able to gain valuable experience that would prove to be a benefit.

With the new England Hockey governance structure coming into place for the 2021/22 season, the leagues were rearranged and some new teams joined the new Yorkshire and North East Area but essentially the teams in Y&NE Division 1 were the same old faces from the last 2 seasons.  After 2 close shaves, the squad were determined to not let lockdowns, covid or the opposition get in their way.  With Martin returning to Sheffield, Mike Parr took over the coaching role, Bally had recovered from his knee surgery and the team were confident that promotion was within their reach.

Whilst not quite dominating games in the early part of the season, Adel soon got into their usual goalscoring stride, but both Leeds and Hull were also making a strong start to the season.  An early defeat away to Hull (sounds familiar?) gave the team a timely wake up call, a narrow win over local rivals Leeds in what is always a well-fought close game but then some convincing wins led to Adel having a big weekend of hockey in early March.  Victory over Doncaster on the Saturday secured promotion, a win over Durham Uni at the 3rd  or 4th attempt of playing (frost, snow and covid all seemed to scupper this fixture!) on the Sunday guaranteed the title with 3 games to go.

Its never easy when you meet your season’s ambition with 3 games to go, but with tough fixtures against Leeds and Hull who were challenging each other for the 2nd promotion spot, the games would still serve as preparation for playing at the higher level next season.  A draw with Leeds and a narrow win v Hull did at least see the team score 6 goals to take them through the 100 goal barrier for the 6th season in a row, a trickier challenge once Bradford had sadly withdrawn from the league meaning only 20 league games will be played.  Another plus was that the squad were able to strengthen mid season with the acquisition of some of the talented Bradford players who had competed against Adel in previous seasons.

With one final home game on Saturday 26th March at 1.30pm v Marton Furness it would be a great opportunity to come along and watch this talented and entertaining squad for one final time this season.  I doubt many teams can claim the following records:

  • Scoring over 100 league goals in their last six (full) seasons
  • Scoring at least one goal in their last 151 league games – the last time the team failed to score was October 2014!

Another pleasing aspect from yesterday’s game was that in the 16 man squad, 5 of them started out in the Adel under 10 boys team.  But the team has also welcomed several new players over the last couple of seasons too and the success of the 1s team has had a knock on effect further down the men’s sides as witnessed by the success this season of our other 5 teams.  With the 2s challenging for a promotion spot, the 3s promoted and hoping to win their league, the 4s and 5s still in with a shout of promotion and the 6s continuing to act as the entry point for our juniors who then progress to our higher teams, the future continues to be both orange and bright.

Next season will at last see a return to the highest level the men’s 1s have played at, being one division below the national leagues.  I am sure it will bring new challenges, tougher opposition and plenty of learning experiences on and off the pitch but with the current squad and some ambitious and talented 2s players keen to step up a level, plus an ability to attract new players from playing higher level hockey the next season promises to be an interesting journey!

2014/15 Yorkshire – Div 1 22 14 4 4 81 49 32 46 3rd no move
2015/16 Yorkshire – Div 1 22 15 3 4 101 32 69 48 3rd no move
2016/17 Yorkshire – Div 1 22 20 1 1 126 24 102 61 1st promoted
2017/18 Yorkshire – Premier 22 22 0 0 139 34 105 66 1st promoted
2018/19 North – East Div 2 22 13 1 8 115 79 36 40 4th no move
2019/20 North – East Div 2 22 20 0 2 120 29 91 60 2nd no move
2020/21 North – East Div 2 5 5 0 0 28 10 18 15 1st no move
2021/22 Y&NE – Div 1 19 18 1 1 101 27 74 55 1st promoted

Congratulations to Stroomer and all of the squad, as well as all those who have helped out with the coaching and organisation behind the scenes.