Mid season round up 22/23

Posted by Chris Nightingale on 4 January 2023

Telford & Wrekin Hockey Club have had a busy start to their 2022/23 season. With 5 mens teams, 3 ladies teams, and a large junior section, there is always plenty happening down at St George’s.


The Men’s first XI gained promotion back to the Midlands Premier Division last season and set out with the aim of staying in the league. Tom Gough took over the captains armband from long time captain Alex Johnson, and under this new leadership they currently sit 8th in the league, with 3 wins, 2 draws and 5 losses. After back to back 5-2 home wins, the 1’s season slowed down, sitting on the wrong end of some big score lines, including a tough 8-0 defeat to title challengers Stourport. When asked, Gough told me his standout player so far this year is striker Tom Mallet, having scored 6 goals and setting up 8. Another standout in the 1’s is junior striker Ollie Brannan, who, after scoring 3 consecutive hat-tricks for the 2’s, earned a call up to the first team. Brannan, who represented Mercian Lynx at the Futures Cup in 2021, now has 15 goals to his name and looks to cement his place as a first team regular. Another regular in the first team squad is England Over 35 midfielder Liam Hennessy, who won the World Cup at Nottingham Hockey Centre during August, beating South Africa 1-0 in the final. Although the stats may read against them, the team has made fantastic progress in recent years, and now sit just one league below National League.


Moving down to Division 5 West, and sitting atop the table is our Men’s 2’s team. After winning their league last year, no one predicted the start that the team has had. With Old Wulfs having pulled out of the league at the start of the year, Telford had a bye their first week, but came storming out of the blocks in their first match, a dominant 6-0 win over Droitwich Spa. The team continued this great form throughout the first half of the season, playing 10 games and winning all 10, scoring 45 goals and conceding only 8. Captain Tom Williams – who suffered a long-term injury during preseason – took on a role as manager and handed the onfield armband to vice-captain Jon Cook. “We’ve had a mixture of 2nd team regulars as well as players rotating up and down from the 1sts and the 3rds” Williams said “which exemplifies the great state the club is in, with those players being a mix of the younger and older heads. The standouts players for us so far have been Jordan Keeble, who has been unreal in defence after returning from uni in the summer, and Luca Basini, who has been our Mr Consistency in the midfield”. Going into the second half of the season, the 2’s have eyes on promotion, and look to continue their fine form to the end of the season.


Sitting just the league below the 2nd team is Telford’s 3rd Mens XI. After finishing as runners up last season, the 3’s were looking into their new league with just the aim of survival. “Sticking with mostly the same squad as last year, the younger players of the squad have adapted fantastically to the higher tempo of the league” Captain Chris Nightingale said. After their first 10 games of the season, the team currently sit a fantastic third in their league, just 4 points behind Stone in second place. After beating Leek (the team that won their league last year) 2-0 at the start of the year, the team has kicked on from there, only losing twice and drawing twice. One of those draws included a thrilling 1-1 with Stone at St Georges, with both teams having good chances to win the game. Last seasons top goal scorer Ben Stevens has carried on his goal scoring with 4 goals this season, even after a slow start to the season, with Ben Edwards and Tommy Lauder not far behind on 3 goals each.


After a league reshuffle brought an unexpected promotion for the 4th team, there was a worry that they might struggle to compete against the higher teams. Top of the league at the Christmas break however, and unbeaten has put those fears to bed. Skipper Tom Hurst said “The success so far is very much down to the strength and depth of the squad, even with key players missing games, the team keeps on winning”. Scoring 27 goals between them and assisting a further 9, Josh Sykes and Roger Marsh have been the key players for the 4ths this season. Sykes, who can play in central, wide and forward areas, is only in his first season of mens hockey, and has provided that creative spark the team has lacked in recent years. Marsh, playing in what may be his swan song year leads the goal scoring tally for the team, looking to beat his impressive tally of 27 goals from last season. Some of the highlights of the season so far include a 9-0 thrashing of Stone to start their campaign, and in their last game before Christmas a 13-0 hammering of Lichfield 6. 6-0 up at half time, the game had 4 goals from Marsh, 3 from Harry Gough, 3 from Sykes, 1 for junior George Pittson, and 1 each for fourth team regulars Chris Cousins and James Stevens, showing the quality throughout the entire squad.


After their debut season last year, the 5th team set out this season to hold their place in the middle of Division 10 North West. Being a mix of juniors making their men’s debuts and the senior players of the club, the 5ths have had a fantastic start to their season, winning 4 and drawing 1 of their 8 games so far. The juniors that have stood out include the Keeble twins Tom and John, Sam Langford and Sukhtaj Sandhu, however the top goalscorer is currently senior player Ian Cole, who has moved from midfield to lead the front line, scoring 6 and assisting 1. The biggest result for the team was a 4-0 win over Old Wulfs 4, which kickstarted their season with the goals from Alan Brannan, Tom Keeble and 2 from Ian Cole. The 5th team has become a vital part of the club, giving up and coming juniors a chance to prove themselves in adult hockey, with some already proving they are more than capable of playing up teams, including Sam, Sukhtaj, and Tom who have all already made their 4th team debuts.


Moving over to our Ladies section, Telford & Wrekin Ladies 1st XI began the 2022/23 season with some new faces to the team, with this bringing new formations and strategies. They started off the season well, with a 5-1 win against Lichfield. From then on the team has fought hard against strong oppositions with games going both in their favour and some being tight defeats, bringing home 4 wins 1 draw from their first 10 games. 2 of these wins included a 8-0 win over Tamworth and a 7-0 win over Leicester City, with the goals across the games coming from forward Cherylynn Lane, Jodie Lane, centre-back Grace Flynn, Ladies 1st XI captain Kathryn Sinclair, and England O45 international Lorna Burns. The Ladies 1st are currently sitting middle of the league at the Christmas break with promise that the team will continue to work hard and only move up the table. 1st team captain Kathryn Sinclair’s standout player so far has been Izzy Moore “who has shown calmness and discipline to any position she is allocated. Her skills and speed enable her to play game changing passes and her tackling has been top quality!  She is a young aspiring player who teams should definitely be scared of!”.


The Ladies 2nd XI have also had a great start to their 2022/23 campaign, currently sitting fourth in their league. After 9 games, winning 5 and drawing 3, they sit fourth on 18 points. 2 of those 5 wins came in 10 goal wins, the first a 11-1 win over Stone 2 at St George’s with Christine Keyser scoring an incredible 5 goals, Rebecca Sloan scoring another 3, and captain Sue Hughes, Paige Noble and Rachel Evans all adding to the score line. The other 10 goal win came against Lichfield, with St George’s proving to be a happy hunting ground again for the Ladies 2’s. The goals this time came from Erika de Graaf, Ellie Sutcliffe, Alexia Day with 2, Bella Hart with a hat trick, and skipper Sue leading from the front with a hat trick for herself. During the summer, Sue and Rachel both represented Wales Over 50’s in the Four Nations tournament, with Rachel having been in the squad for many years, and Sue making her debut for Wales.


Finally we move to the Ladies 3rd XI. After promotion to Division 5 Moorland last season, the team have carried on their great form from the end of the last season, currently sitting 2nd in the league, level on points with leaders Finchfield. Plenty of juniors have been joining in the team, and Captain Simone Rowley said “[The juniors] have settled in really well, and have helped the team with goals and assists, particularly Eliza Brannan who has impressed many, scoring 5 goals and assisting 1”. The team started off the season with a 7-0 home win against Lichfield, before beating Wolverhampton and Tettenhall 3’s 6-0, Stone 3’s 8-0, and most recently an 8-0 away win to Leek 4, with the girls gunning for back to back promotions!


Earlier this year, the club received a grant from Telford & Wrekin Council for £10,000 to install LED lighting, which will save the club nearly 50% of the energy bills. During the October half term, these new lights were installed to St George’s, meaning games can be played later in the evenings. The new LED lights were the next phase of the pitch redevelopment, after the new astroturf was installed during the summer of 2021. Chairman of the club Gwynne Goodfield said “The club has had a very successful year on and off the pitch. The installation of LED lighting completes our facility upgrade. On the pitch, the mens and ladies teams continue their quest for success with many teams looking for promotion. The junior section has progressed massively with a very successful year and is continuing to grow, with over 160 members from age 5 to 18”.


Writing credit - Ben Stevens

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