Results leave Leeds Hockey Club well placed for league restructure
With the final league games played this weekend and a restructure being planned by England Hockey over the summer, final league standings became all-the-more important for the top teams at Leeds Hockey Club.
The men’s 3rds travelled to Sheffield to face a University Bankers side who have struggled this season as much as Leeds themselves.
Both teams have had a rough ride in North East Division Two, with the more established and experienced clubs finding the level of hockey a little easier to deal with. Sheffield have been stuck to the bottom of the table for nearly all the campaign, so Leeds were hoping for a nice finish to their season and started the game with high hopes.
Unfortunately, like most of this season, things didn’t go to plan for Leeds, and they ended up losing 2-0.
This win took Sheffield off the bottom and meant Leeds finished ninth. There is a lot of promise for next year, however, with future star players Danny Agar-Brennan and Jacob Smith showing their talent this year.
Leeds men’s 2nds pushed eventual title winners Harrogate to the penultimate weekend of the season, before they dropped points allowing Harrogate to gain a four-point lead with just the one game to go.
Despite missing out on the title, Leeds were determined to end on a high note as they hosted Sheffield University Bankers at Sports Park Weetwood.
Running out 6-4 winners, Leeds showed they deserved second spot in Northern Division One, with a comprehensive display that never saw them relinquish their hold on the game.
“It’s been a pleasure to take this group to the next level,” said coach Chris Golding after promotion was assured for Leeds, who will take a step up in leagues when September shows the new structure.
In their first season of National League hockey, Leeds ladies 1sts have made the club proud with some displays of fantastic hockey and a never-say-die attitude when things have gone wrong.
The ladies’ aim for the season was to show that they belonged in the top flight of English hockey, and they have proven that time and again, ending the season in seventh place – even after their 3-1 loss to local rivals Ben Rhydding.
Injuries and other commitments – most noticeably Sarah Wood being integral to the Hockey For Heroes Women’s squad – have meant that, on occasion, Leeds were unable to field their first-choice team. However, coach Gawaine Hogg has a wealth of talent to choose from and the fight for places will only get more fierce.
Sunday’s game saw Leeds Men’s 1sts hosting Bowdon at Beckett University Campus.
With Bowdon already having the league title, many felt Leeds were going to struggle.
This was never going to be the case, however, with Leeds demanding a strong finish as a way of sending some of their players off in style.
Leeds took an early lead through their top scorer Harry Lankfer and, even though the score at half-time was 2-2, Leeds were the better team on the day. The long season was showing in the Bowdon squad, as Leeds scored five times in the second half with no reply to win the game comfortably 7-2. Having finished sixth this year, Leeds will hold onto their National League status for next season, meaning the club, once again, has both its top teams playing National League hockey.
Tom Roberts and Nathan Hill are moving to pastures new over the summer, and Carl Smith is planning to retire from National League hockey after two seasons with Leeds at this level.
Smith captained the men’s first team in their inaugural season of National League last year, has been a key member of the squad this year and was instrumental in helping the club achieve the level of hockey they now play each week.
Leeds Hockey Club’s weekend results: Men’s 1sts 7 Bowdon 2; Men’s 2nds 6 Sheffield Uni Bankers 4; Men’s 3rds 0 Sheffield Uni Bankers 2; Ladies 1sts 1 Ben Rhydding 3.