Following on from a fantastic End Of Season Dinner, I thought it would be an ideal time to reflect on what a truly remarkable season we have had as a section. It hasn’t ever been easy but the grit and determination shown by everyone involved each week has shown just how strong we are when we all pull together.
There have been a number of success stories this season and I’ve attempted to make note of them in the round-up below.
The Men’s 1st XI enjoyed huge success. It was a difficult situation to be in when they went through a coaching transition but with the tremendous acquisition of former international and Olympian Jason Lee, the team went on to register their highest points total ever in the National League since the merger. A special mention must go to skipper Dan Walsh for his continued hard work and organisation, player of the season and top goalscorer Peter Dobson and their committed manager Tara Woodward who were instrumental along with the rest of the squad to build a platform for future success.
The Men’s 2nd XI put together an 8 game unbeaten run post Christmas which included victories over Wimbledon, Canterbury, Reading and Southgate. They welcomed Ollie Harvey back into the club with him collecting their player of the season along with Will Harris taking top goalscorer on his return from university.
The Men’s 3rd XI had the most difficult season, without a captain it was always going to be hard for them and unfortunately we had to withdraw the side post Christmas due to a lack of available players. They did have lots of positives with the huge amount of juniors in the side and the experience of playing many National League 2nd XI’s in their division will certainly hold them in good stead for the years to come. There were many concerns when this decision was made but I would like to hope now that it was clear that the correct decision was made at the time and was of benefit to all sides.
The Men’s 4th XI found themselves in a relegation scrap after the Christmas break but managed to string together a 5 game unbeaten run which pulled themselves away from the drop and they will look to build on the momentum they have next season. A special mention to Tom Hamilton, who rolled back the years, to become instrumental in the side and sweep the board to pick up player of the season. The juniors showed great fight and improvement to become key members of the side and there is plenty of talent progressing throughout the club.
The Men’s 5th XI gained promotion to Kent Open Premier A with Richard Matthews taking over the reigns as captain, following in the successful footsteps of former skipper, Ed Tokely. The team became a formidable opponent in the division. Languishing mid table in December but a run of 9 wins in 10 matches meant they finished 2nd. Mark Bezant picked up player of the season whilst Dan Hopkins finished leading goalscorer.
The Men’s 6th XI also had a new skipper in place with Matt Butler taking over the reigns, leading from the front, he finished the side’s top goalscorer. A great season for them with a large number of juniors making the leap up in quality, Anmol Passamolla collected their player of the season whilst other juniors Stephen Kearns, Ben Georgel and Owen Harries regularly pulling the strings amongst the more experienced heads in the side. A particular highlight included their 10-1 victory over Wellcome, in what I’m told is, the highest result within the Men’s section this season.
The Men’s 7th XI also won promotion, finishing 2nd in their division in Geoff Stacey’s final year of captaincy. Phil Louden-Carter will take the reigns next season with a squad full of depth and experience. Tim Carpenter continues the trend throughout the club with another vet taking player of the season. A big thanks to Geoff again for his support throughout the entire club.
The Men’s Vets had a tough season to follow the previous one but Rob Truslow has pieced together a good set of regular performers, joined with new member and player of the season Kevin Haye in goal, and they’ll look to build next year.
The Men’s Ravens have retained their place in the A league of the over 50’s competition and will finish in the top 4 of the Grand Masters (over 60’s) once they finish their final few games.
As a club we would not be able to function each week without the hard work and determination from those involved. A huge thank-you must go to all of the captains for a thankless task each week and to those on the committee who help keep us moving in the right direction. A big thanks to Chris Harris for his continued chairmanship, Jo Read for her continued hard work getting our finances in order and to Mike Bluett, Tom Hamilton, Charles Darby and the rest of the committee for their support throughout the year. I’d also like to thank all of the juniors for their commitment each week and to their parents for continuing to support us as a wider club.
Saturday was a fitting end to the season and without the hard work of Hannah Westcar, it wouldn’t have been possible. A big thank-you to her and her social team for putting together such a successful evening.
Finally, I’d like to thank each and every player, supporter and umpire who help us each week, pay your subscriptions and make us into the fantastic club we are.
If you’re already having hockey withdrawal, why not make the trip to Lee Valley on Saturday 25th April to see the Ladies 2nd XI take on Oxford in the England Hockey Plate final, 9.30am start. Also keep your eyes peeled for details of our mixed summer league tournament which will continue again at Langley.
Relax and enjoy your summer and I look forward to seeing you all next season in our 10th year as a section and the 150th in the general club’s history. Keep your eyes peeled for more information throughout the summer - it promises to be a cracker.
Men’s Club Captain