As we take a break from hockey for the festive season, its worth reflecting on where we are as a club both on and off the pitch as we pause for breath for a couple of weeks. Sadly, in some cases, the weather has intervened and some teams have had a non-scheduled couple of weeks off so the second half of the season will be busier than expected so please try and keep those Sundays free for playing catch up hockey so your team can continue with their promotion challenges.
The mens sides are sitting pretty in most of their leagues with the Mighty Phwoars continuing their record unbeaten run with 9 wins from 10 games and a well fought draw as they go into the second half of the season riding high at the top of the table. Lets hope if they get promoted this season they actually climb out of the bottom division so these lads can see how competitive they are against better opposition. One of their toughest games this season was the league opener against the 5th team who put up a brave fight in the first half but the 4s finally broke through in the 2nd half to win 5-2. However, this game saw the senior debuts of many talented juniors who have gone on to have an excellent start to their career in the mens teams with a few of them already being given the opportunity to play higher up to extend their experience. The 5s often with the luxury of a big squad sit in 10th place (in a 14 team league) and the age range from youngest to oldest player most weeks is a staggering 59 years.
The 3s are gradually taking shape and after some early season defeats whilst new players settled in, another batch of juniors stepping up from the under 16s and some passing down from the 2s as the top sides benefitted from new player arrivals, the 3s are looking more solid and the return of regular goal machine Paul Horsey should see them rise the table from 5th place, especially if they win their games in hand. Catching the talented Scarborough team who have won 12 from 12 may be beyond reach but a strong second half could see a promotion challenge.
The 2s have also benefitted from some new arrivals to strengthen their team and are nicely tucked in behind the league leaders in 2nd place having only lost one game to bogey side Ramgarhia. However, impressive wins over Harrogate, ending their unbeaten run and the ability to call upon some first team regulars from last season should see their mix of experience and youth end the season strongly.
The 1s remain unbeaten with a 100% win record (10 out of 10) but bizarrely are not top of the class. Bradford have the same record and a better goal difference so the 2 games against them in 2018 will effectively decide who grabs the one promotion spot to the North East League. Pace, skill, well organised and goal threats across all of the team have meant the 1s have played some of the best hockey seen around the county this season and back to back promotions would see the team restored to where they were a few years ago and competing at a higher level once again.
Much of this success can be put down to the increased attendance at training, the improved coaching and the commitment of everyone partly helped by increased competition for places which encourages attendance and availability. All of this feeds through to better team spirit, success on the pitch and improved social life afterwards so well done to Ben, Paul and all the skippers for driving forward with this platform.
On the ladies side of the club this season was always going to be challenging for the 1s after the departure of coach Ransley and the loss of some key players including a couple of talented juniors heading for University. 11th place in the league with one win isn’t a fair reflection on the seasons efforts so far with some narrow defeats, late opposition equalisers and cruel injuries all having an impact. However, a more settled squad after Christmas with off field support from Paul Lewis should see the 1s come out stronger and look to rise the table.
The 2s continue to battle away at the top of the Yorkshire Premier League for the 3rd season in a row hoping to go one better than the 2nd place finish of the last 2 years. They are our second side to top their division at the end of 2017 with 9 wins from 11 games and after Christmas games against local rivals Ben Rhydding and Selby will go a long way to determining who is crowned as champions.
The 3s have bounced back from a couple of early season defeats and sit in 4th place with 6 wins from 10 games and they too could be battling for promotion if their form continues into 2018. The 4s with almost a brand new team from the side that made the play offs last season have had more mixed fortunes but having only conceded 13 goals from 10 games and sometimes with emergency stand in keepers, its clear that training sessions will focus on goalscoring to see them rise the table. And finally the 5s have won as many as they have lost and sit in 6th place with 6 wins and 6 defeats but continue to bring through lots of junior players for their first experience of senior hockey and we all know that in a couple of years time some of this group will be up in the 1s and 2s following the well trodden path of many juniors before them.
Our junior teams continue to go from strength to strength with representative sides across all age groups in the YYHL on Sunday mornings and some success in the EH Cups. Pam and Simon continue to lead our junior coaching sessions on Friday evenings and run teams on Sundays but are well supported by an increasing group of volunteers with some of them starting to reappear in the senior teams after a few years away from the scene. One of the most pleasing recent results was a win for the boys under 16s against local rivals Leeds, who included three former Adel juniors in their team – this highlights that whilst we might not have the status of some of our local rivals at senior level, our juniors are able to compete and win and hopefully results like this will help us attract and retain our talented juniors in years to come. Many of these juniors are making progress in the senior sides in particular a batch of promising goalkeepers in the boys and girls sections and its great to see parents also taking an active part either as supporters new to the game, drivers or coach/umpires on match days.
Our umpires skilfully organised by Jim and our “match fixers” Gaby and Ian continue to make sure our games can go ahead (frost permitting) and without them and new Tea Boy Tom our Adel Experience on match days would not be as successful as it is. The frosts of the last few weeks are not welcome for anyone and some members have been trying to engineer innovative ways of defrosting the pitch, protecting it from frost in the first place and doing all they can to get games to go ahead. Some of this can be quite comical but we have had some serious suggestions that could work but the first challenge is to secure the pitch with better fencing and this is the key short term project that the executive committee and development committee are trying to complete. As ever, finances will be the first barrier to this ambitious project and its tricky to get grants so soon after exhausting most avenues when raising funds for the pitch. However, this has to be the clubs priority so that we can protect our biggest asset and this can then lead to improved dug outs, raised viewing areas and possible pitch covering so we can lay claim to a first class venue fit for the level of hockey we are now playing.
The changing rooms are also being reviewed along with the football section so that we can provide more rooms to ease the strain on match days and hopefully by the time you return in January the gents toilets and the kitchen facilities will both have been refurbished. There is a lot going on behind the scenes and the newly created Development Committee is meeting regularly to support the AWMA and the football section in particular to ensure these meet our needs, especially as its encouraging to see so many of our members staying on late into the Saturday evening at the club whether there is a well organised hockey social (thanks to Gaby and James sterling efforts) or just a meeting place prior to the inevitable Uber into the city centre. It goes without saying that none of this happens overnight, by magic or without incurring a cost so watch our for club sponsorship opportunities, fund raising initiatives and the return of the 100 club in the New year and be prepared to be pestered by Treasurer Jackson and Mens 3s skipper Beale among others looking to make sure we can continue to improve the Adel facilities off the pitch.
If you are a former player reading this and wondering what you are missing out on a Saturday afternoon, then please do pop along to the club to watch a game and enjoy a pint with the current teams in the bar. Some things have changed over the years with the move from grass to astro, the switch of playing times from that regular 3pm start, the colours of our shirts but one thing that hasn’t changed at all over the 30 years I have been at Adel is the warm welcome you can expect to receive pitch side or in the bar. Over the course of the last 3 seasons as Chairman its been most pleasing to see some familiar faces return to see whats going on or to watch one of their off spring turning out in the Adel colours and I hope those of you who haven’t been back for a few years are able to find time to join us and see how the club you played for is now doing.
Finally, I wish all members, past and present, supporters and parents, officials and coaches a Merry Christmas and a Happy (and h0pefully) successful 2018.