This season, the weather seems to have frustrated us more than ever, causing postponements and fixture rearrangements that have given our fixtures and umpire secretaries nightmares. Deadlines from the YHA for final games of the season, the threat of further bad weather and our astro already maxed out on Saturdays with 5 home games mean it gets increasingly harder to find that Sunday window of opportunity to squeeze in rearranged games. Thursdays snowstorm created a mild panic for Gabby in particular but fortunately by Saturday morning the temperatures had risen sufficiently to clear away the notorious “top corner” of the pitch and Wacko Jacko’s mad cap ideas for de-frosting the area remained in his locker for another weekend.
Perhaps the key game of the day was being played in Bradford as our mens 1s knew they had their toughest challenge of the season away at Bradford, their nearest rivals and only team capable of denying the 1s the title. With the game being played on a Saturday afternoon the Adel faithful who had supported a few weeks earlier would not be able to attend as 12th man but the Bradford crowd was boosted with some parental support from Mr Maver and Mrs Moorhouse, keen to see her son return to his first club where he learnt his hockey trade. No one wanted to mention it beforehand but everyone knew it….. a win for Adel would give them an unassailable lead at the top, wrap up the title with 2 games to go and secure a second successive promotion under the watchful eye of Head Coach Ben Hendley and the leadership of Nathan Hemming.
The match report will give you the precise details of how the game played out but at the final whistle the cheers of celebration from the men in orange were not quite drowned out by the huge sighs of relief of the rest of us back at Adel. A 5-3 win in a competitive game against a talented and promising Bradford side who will be sure to be favourites in this division next season. Bradford were magnanimous with their praise and Adel were respectful with their celebrations with both sides knowing the rest of the division had failed to keep up to their high standards.
Since league hockey began in Yorkshire in the 1980s, the mens 1s have won the top division in Yorkshire on two previous occasions. In 1989 Greg Hilton and I were fortunate to be part of the first team to win the top Yorkshire league and play in the Northern Premier League the season after where we failed to survive despite having a grass pitch whilst others had started their astro days. Our time in the North leagues was shortlived but in 1995 the mens 1s once again returned to the North East leagues and survived there for several seasons. Relegations in 2014 and 2015 saw the team drop down to Yorkshire Division 1 and it took some soul-searching and changes to put in place the building blocks for the recovery. The triumvirate of coach Henley, skipper Hemming and club captain Paul Lewis have built a strong squad who play fast paced and high quality hockey that has been the envy of many opposition teams. Last year saw the team return to the Premier League with the only blip being a defeat away at Hull and this season to date has been faultless with a 20 from 20 record to date. Resident Statto Jim Robinson has been trawling hockey websites to see how many other teams have a 100% record in the country and with Scarborough losing at the weekend it left Leeds Adel Mens 1s as the only team in all the Yorkshire leagues able to boast this record.
The team has gelled on and off the pitch from the outset with some long standing club members who have been through the ups and downs of the last decade providing the core and stability in the team. Nathan Hemming has dominated the centre of the field, Andrew “Tino” Hill and Jim Robinson provided solid experience in the backline along with Paul Lewis prior to his move to fill in the vacant ladies coaching role. Over the last few season we have been fortunate to maintain contact with our old juniors when they complete their degrees and we have benefitted from the return of Johnny Sykes and Richard Maver in the past but this year two of the squad began life in the Under 12s at Adel and it has been rewarding to see them return and contribute to the success. Phil Bayford loves a goal celebration, and Gareth Maver has been the jack of all trades who has filled in wherever needed in a variety of positions. Promotion last season was partly due to the goal threats from Will Purdy (cruelly denied two top scorer trophies last season), Paul Watkins using his pace attacking down the right and Jimmy Mayhew showing increasing maturity and improved decision making – the team was always going to be well placed to compete this season.
The welcome addition of Simon Ball and James Moorhouse bringing national league experience from Wakefield plus the acquisition of goal-machine Sam Harris from local rivals Boston Spa improved the quality as well as the depth of players at Ben Hendley’s disposal and some weeks there have been tough selection calls to be made. Chris Green, Andy Bird and Peter Sim have provided the solidity at the back but then their electric pace has given them the ability to support the forward line. Kieran Savage has wisely chosen to play his hockey at Adel during his spell at Leeds University and been a welcome asset to the team and Josh Berry who has had little to do in most games has been solid and organised in goal although one of the clean sheets did occur in the one game he missed! Thanks to Matt Cooper who stepped in to the breach on that occasion as well as others who have stepped up from the 2s like Sam Bishop and Miles Buller showing the strength in depth at the club this season. With two games remaining, the 1s will be keen to not slip up between now and the end of the season with a 100% record the target to match the ladies 1s similar record of a couple of seasons ago.
One of the beneficiaries of the 1s strengthening of their squad has been Edd Holford’s Mens 2s team who have probably punched below their weight in recent seasons. This season they have benefitted from a stable squad, some new joiners, some seasoned pros and some of the 1s squad from last season dropping down to provide some quality. The turning point in the season may have been an impressive home win v Harrogate before Christmas which seemed to provide the belief that this could be the 2s season and the away win at Hallam a couple of weeks ago put the final oucome firmly into their own hands. The one defeat to regular bogey team Ramgarhia was avenged with a thumping 11-0 home win and on Saturday the 2s knew that a win should (if YHA permit 2 teams to be promoted as in previous seasons) see them promoted to division 1 next season. Opponents, Acomb are no mugs and have some talented and competitive players and the game was far from a foregone conclusion but Buller poached the first goal from inches out and in the second half some breathing space was provided with further goals as the 2s did what was needed to secure a 3-1 win. Injury to veteran midfielder Giles Primmer could not dampen the post match celebrations and the 2s now hope to put the icing on the cake needing to win one of their 2 remaining games to wrap up the title. Whilst all credit goes to the 1s for being the only team in Yorkshire with a 100% record, the 2s are one of only a couple of teams to have only lost 1 game all season and they will be keen to maintain this record.
A couple of months ago the 3s looked to be having yet another season where they would be consigned to midtable mediocrity with nothing to play for. A run of form since Christmas has probably come a little too late but promotion is still not a mathematical impossibility and 2 wins this weekend have kept up a faint hope. Saturday saw a physical contest away at Boston Spa where talented juniors Joe Greer and Charlie Sutton confirmed why the club has so much to look forward to in the near future as these juniors make progress to higher teams. Both have scored with increasing regularity in the lower teams but are now doing this on a higher stage as they learn about senior hockey, ride the tough challenges from less talented opposition players keen to slow them down and their goals were crucial in the 4-1 away win. Sunday saw the 3s finally travel to York for a game that has been tricky to fit into the schedules and the bare 11 players from Adel faced an uphill task when York raced into a 2-0 lead in the first half. Another veteran’s injury to Greg Hilton the day before robbed the team of some experience but proven scorer Paul Horsey then stole the show with four goals with another from Will Powley (managing to continue to play with a fractured scaphoid for 3 months….) giving the 5-2 final scoreline – just reward for everyone’s efforts managing to play a full game the day after another game.
The 4s too should have had a double header but sadly on Saturday Rotherham 3s dropped out conceding the game which allowed the 4s to focus on the tougher task on Sunday away at Abbeydale v Hallam 7s. The write up elsewhere will tell you all you need to know but the 1-0 win combined with Worksop not being able to get a team out may have seen the momentum swing back in Adel’s favour for the promotion slot. Could they be the 3rd of our 5 mens teams to win promotion this season? Keep watching…..
The 5s have had a fantastic season, introducing around 10 new juniors to senior hockey this season who have benefitted from the guile and experience of some wise old heads like Holden, Hedge and Ball. With super-vets Phillips and Margerison able to tell tales from their international travels, the best match reports in the country and an enthusiastic set of parents cheering on from the sidelines, the 5s have shown the Adel spirit and competed well all season. A 6-1 away win at Chapeltown with juniors like Finn Holden, Tom Aldred and Max Holley continuing to score goals supplemented by rapidly improving Murf Francis and talented keeper Mikey McWilliams the challenge for the club next season will be giving these lads the chance to progress to higher teams and develop further.
So in short, 7 wins from 7 games for the mens teams last weekend, one league title confirmed, one promotion secured, another in our own hands and a further one perhaps a long shot but not over and done with quite yet. Probably the most successful, and surely enjoyable year of hockey for the mens section at Adel although Greg or Richard Poll may know differently.
The ladies section had 6 games this weekend with the 1s having the task of a tricky home game against top half of the table Brooklands on Saturday and then the real challenge of an away game on Sunday at Pendle Forest who haven’t lost for over 70 games. Saturday saw another injury before the game had even begun and regular readers may be surprised to know it wasn’t April Fowden who picked up the knock. Instead the opposition keeper sadly pulled a muscle in the warm up causing a delay to the start as a new keeper was kitted up. When the game got underway Adel withstood a barrage of penalty corners which were well dealt with by Sarah McCall and the defence and when Adel did get up the other end they made the most of their chances with goals from Jenny Wright and Rosh McEwan to give some confidence going in to the half time interval. Brooklands then adopted Sam Ransley like tactics in the second half taking off the sub keeper and playing with a kicking back – Jenny Wright took the opportunity to add a third goal and despite conceding late on Adel held on for a rewarding victory and climbing up the table a place to improve chances of avoiding relegation. Sunday was a difficult proposition and in short Pendle Forest showed why they at the runaway leaders in this division, haven’t lost in 3 years and they wrapped up the title with a convincing 11-1 win, although Rosie Baker scored the goal of the day for us. Spirits were hopefully only mildly dented and with the wins over Didsbury Greys and Brooklands restoring confidence fingers are crossed that in the final couple of games the team can end on a high and stay in North 1 for next season.
The 2s returned to the pitch after their busy three games and one trophy in a week and came away with a 2-2 draw at Leeds University to keep up their unbeaten run. Annabel Walker and Jenny Hopkins scored the goals and they will be hoping to get back to winning ways this weekend in their final home game at Adel ahead of their well deserved celebrations having wrapped up the title in February.
The 3s had a convincing 6-0 home win over York and the 4s had an impressive 2-1 away win at Bradford which leaves the 5s who perhaps had the toughest challenge of Saturday playing table toppers Slazengers who racked up 4 goals without reply by half time. Perhaps the increased home support for the 2nd half or the interval team talk from Ffion geed up the time but in the second half the 5s were more dominant, played some attractive hockey and scored 2 goals without reply to restore some pride and show the fighting spirit they have displayed all season.
As a non-playing club member it has been a great season to see all our teams whether successful or not this season with new players welcomed and integrated into teams quickly, younger players flying high and progressing and seasoned stalwarts battling on with tales of trips down memory lane to share in the bar afterwards. Again, its been noticeable that the number of supporters on the sidelines is increasing and I hope many of you are able to come along this Saturday to cheer on our teams once again. Who knows, there could be the odd celebration or two ( or 3 or 4….) afterwards.