This past weekend will probably go down in history as one of the busiest ever for representative teams from Leeds Adel HC. At the last count 17 teams donned the orange shirts and went into battle against a variety of opposition in league games, friendlies, social fixtures, under 10 matches in the YYHL, national EH mixed cup competitions and by the end of the weekend there were some tired and weary bodies, sore heads but plenty of laughs and memories.

I am sure everyone involved from playing in one game through to a few people who were there from start to finish in a variety of roles will have had a great time but a couple of people perhaps more than most club members went the extra mile and made all of it happen.

So rather than a summary of all the matches, scores and goalscorers, this week I want to focus on a couple of people in particular whose efforts this weekend show their passion, commitment and enthusiasm for hockey at our club.

Hero number one has already received praise for the contribution he has made to finally move the Adel teas forward a couple of centuries and to ensure our reputation off the pitch is enhanced, opposition no longer depart early safe in the knowledge that they can miss the Adel tea and home teams no longer have to worry about who will be DOD and have to wash up the bean pan that has been on heat for the past 7 hours.

Rob Higgins weekend commitments began on a Friday night as he gave up his free time to prepare the teas for the following evenings social mixed hockey event against Leeds.  Preparing and serving up fish and chips along with all the trimmings, making sure the fish were beautifully battered (to match his body from his Sunday mixed game by all accounts) and by all accounts the tartare sauce was the best most people have ever tasted.  With the catering taken care of, Rob then adopted his coaching role on Saturday morning as he went to help oversee the newly formed Ladies 6th team in their first venture on to the pitch at Ralph Thoresby in a friendly fixture against Leeds University who had no league game that day.  On arrival, Rob found that the ladies team were a couple short so along with Dan Greer they made up the numbers for the “ladies” team and a 1-1 draw ensured everyone left the pitch happy and just delighted to get a game of hockey in.

Rob then came back to Adel, played a game and perhaps his biggest contribution was in the mixed social game in the evening where he had a non-playing role but managed to win the boat race replacing the coin toss at the start of the game – water off a ducks back to the man who downed 29 pints in a day on tour through a funnel….. On Sunday, Rob then travelled to Huddersfield for the 2nd teams mixed cup game.  Huddersfield appeared to have mis-read the script and put out a full mixed 1st team against a collection of Adel hopefuls from the 2s to 5s and Rob took his second “battering” of the weekend as the goals rained in and Huddersfield seemed to overlook that mixed hockey tends to be more fun and sociable.  Still not done for the weekend, Rob then returned to Adel to cheer on the mixed 1st team in their battle against Ben Rhydding.

But this isn’t a one off weekend for Rob as most will know.  Every week he prepares teas for 6 hockey matches, 2 football matches and a lacrosse game….that’s 18 teams, umpires and benches to cater for which comes to something like over 200 people sampling his cuisine.

Next time you see Rob at the club, perhaps you might like to thank him and buy him a pint (for a man who can get through 29 in a day on tour I suspect he has capacity to accept the appreciations of a few of you most weeks!)

Hero number 2 also had a busy weekend as player, umpire, supporter, organiser and cheerleader.  Sam Jackson was up at the astro for the first game on Saturday morning umpiring the ladies 4th team in their match against York at 10.30am.  He then had a breather before playing for the mens 2s in their 6-1 win v Brigg before moving on to the evenings proceeding where he was master of ceremonies in organising and overseeing the first ever mixed social evening under lights against local rivals from down the road at Weetwood.  A fun evening with some twists on the rules and proceedings saw a huge crowd turn out to see Adel finally emerge victorious in an interesting twist on the shuffles to decide a winner when the scores are level.  Sam then donned the umpiring jersey once again along with Jim Cockburn who managed to umpire at least 3 Adel games over the weekend too, as they oversaw the final game at the astro at 4.30pm on Sunday evening.

Sometimes, our club is not just about success on the pitch, its about people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make it all happen.  Next time you are asked to clear up the bibs, balls, fill the drinks bottles, clear the plates away just think about the people like Rob and Sam who have made it all happen in the first place as without these guys (and several others too) the games would never happen in the first place.

All of this should not cloud the fact that on Saturday our ladies section was unbeaten, all the more remarkable by this being the first ever day when we put out 6 ladies teams on the same day.  The 1s had a great away win at Rotherham winning 4-2 and the 2s also came away victorious 4-1 at home to Brigg in a game that was perhaps closer than the scoreline suggests but superior Adel finishing in front of goal in the second half made the crucial difference.  The 3s came back from Doncaster with a well earned point from a 1-1 draw with skipper Charlie converting another training ground short corner move.  The 4s managed to pepper all parts of the goal except the backboard in their game against York as the frame of the goal was hit at least 3 times but a goalless draw was perhaps an unfair reflection of their dominance and possession.  The 5s had a great win against Halifax by 4-2 and the 6s early morning draw v Leeds Uni ensured the ladies section had an overall brilliant day.

On the mens side the 1s travelled to Brigg and by all accounts lost the game in the opening 15 minutes when they went 3 goals down in a short space of time.  The final score of 5-3 to Brigg showed some fighting spirit but not enough to bring back any points.  The 2s also played Brigg 2s and were keen to maintain top spot in their division.  Confidence is high in the 2s, goals come from across the pitch and the only disappointment was allowing Brigg a consolation goal from one of their few penalty corners in the dying seconds of the game but the 6-1 win was a fair reflection and sufficient to strengthen their place at the top.  The 3s had a tough challenge v Thirsk 2s which is a slightly misleading team name as there is no Thirsk 1s following their withdrawal from the league already.  As a result Thirsk 2s are more like Thirsk 1.5s and stronger than this division is elsewhere.  The 4-0 scoreline was a reflection of the stronger Thirsk players playing a few divisions below their ability level.  The 4s had a close tussle against Halifax who failed to bring an umpire so thanks firstly to Rich Poll for doing the game on his own.  The 3-2 win will see the 4s start to climb out of the bottom places as they look to continue their winning streak.  The 5s continue to go along in their own way, having fun with a team aged between 13 and 75 and getting stronger every week.  A 3-0 win with more goals for young Tom Aldred who will surely be moving up to higher teams soon, cements the promotion push for the 5s.  And finally the 6s went down 4-2 against Rotherham  as they consolidate after their late entry to the league.

On Sunday we had 2 under 10s teams out in the YYHL and both boys and girls sections had a great time under the watchful eyes of coaches Jenny Wright and Simon Taylor (2 for those of us who remember him from his playing days a few years ago and not the current mens 3s version!).  Just looking at the many talented juniors who we now have in the senior teams should serve as a reminder that we rely on our pipeline from our junior set up so please do all you can to support the junior teams with coaching, umpiring and supporting.  A number who started life in our under 10s turned out in representative colours for West Yokrshire Under 17s on Sunday.  Three wins and one defeat to the other West Yorkshire team shows the quality in the Leeds area and Tom Aldred, Joe Greer, Paddy Haywood and Finlay Holden will hopefully have benefitted further from the experience and bring back new tricks and skills to Adel for our benefit in the future.

And finally somehow 22 or so players, most of whom had played a league game and then the mixed social under lights v leeds the day before, dragged themselves out of beds to turn out for the mixed teams on Sunday.  The 2nd string went down bravely away at Huddersfield but the 1st team gave Ben Rhydding a real fright in the late game at Adel.  Woody opened the scoring against a Rhydding team who were made up entirely of 1st team players with both their mens and ladies teams playing at higher levels than Adel.  This saw a change in mentality from Rhydding who realised the game was not going to be a walkover and they shifted up a gear but were still unable to breach an Adel back line which at one stage was made up of both Powley’s playing alongside each other and repelling Rhydding attacks along with some outstanding saves from Jack Stevenson in goal.  Eventually in the 2nd half Rhydding equalised and with injuries affecting key Adel players the Adel team was literally down to its last legs.  At full time the 1-1 draw meant the game had to be decided on flicks and sadly Rhydding finally came out victorious in suddent death to go through to the next round.  A high quality game, with some great hockey on display and some strong Adel fighting spirit to round off the busy weekend.

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