Round-up: Runners-up spot for Bedford Hockey Club ladies 1st XI

By Jean Fitch

By Zoe Ashton
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 5:41 pm
Goalkeeper Kailum Mistry has been among those instrumental to the Men’s 1s success this season
Goalkeeper Kailum Mistry has been among those instrumental to the Men’s 1s success this season

Both Bedford Hockey Club’s first elevens are to remain in the National league next season, after each enjoyed success this spell. Their league runs ended with their final fixtures at the weekend, the ladies away to Oxford University, whilst the men appreciated the home crowd for their battle with Cambridge.

Knowing they had already secured the runners-up spot several weeks ago, the ladies possibly took their foot off the pedal, allowing Oxford to grab the win, 2-1, on this occasion.

The men, on the other hand, weren’t going to finish without a fight, despite falling a goal down 11 minutes in. It was a Simba Chigwada open play goal which brought the equaliser on 40 minutes, only for Cambridge to take the lead again in the closing quarter of the match. Not to be defeated, the second equaliser came from Taylor Bland, with a 66th minute Penalty Corner conversion. The men finish their run in a creditable 6th position.

Eleven of the Club’s other thirteen senior teams will return to their same divisions in the 2022-23 season, only the two 5th XIs moving, the ladies in an upward direction and the men dropping down a division, both moves will bring a better progression pathway across the Club for players.

The two 2nd XI squads will continue in Division 1, although the ladies have been frustrated by postponements, and still have two fixtures, against St Albans and Thurrock, yet unplayed. Regardless of any outcome of those matches, the squad will end in third position, whilst the men have already clinched a mid-table spot.

Both 3rd teams have had good success this year, the men finishing fourth, and the ladies, who also still have one unplayed fixture, after their match against Harpenden was frozen off at the weekend, are already guaranteed runners-ups in Division 2.

The Men’s and Ladies’ 4ths have both ended at the high end of the table, each closing the season in 3rd position, the Men’s 1-0 loss to Potters Bar at the weekend having no impact on their final placing.

The Ladies’ 6s will remain in Division 5, after a season that had them playing alongside the Ladies’ 5s. Twice across their fixtures, the two squads were in the anomalous position of having to go face-to-face with their clubmates. The Men’s 6s hold their place in Division 7.

It has been a successful season for the Men’s Vets, who enjoy the challenge of turning out each week to play in Division 6 against teams which include players who can be four decades or more younger than the majority of the Vet’s squad. Skill and experience have earned the reward of a fifth position placing.

The Club’s development squads, the Men’s and Ladies’ 7th teams, which welcome juniors stepping up to senior play as they turn 13, and who are always delighted to embrace players who are new or returning to hockey, have demonstrated growing maturity throughout the season, both securing their places in their respective divisions.

Whilst the main league season is all but over, there will still be plenty of action amongst the Club’s members. Worthy of mention is that the Ladies’ Masters Over 35s have joined the Ladies’ Over 55s in reaching their finals of England Hockey’s Masters Championships. The Over 35s are defending champions in Tier 1 and reached the finals, once more, after a long trek to Alderley Edge on Sunday, where they won 4-1. They will meet Canterbury in the final on the 1st of May, whilst the Over 55s face their opponents the day previously, on the 30th of April. Both teams will experience the thrill of stepping out onto the Olympic Hockey pitch at Lee Valley for their matches.

The strength of Master’s representation within the Club is reflected in the fact that not only one, but two teams of Ladies’ Masters will be travelling to Harrogate in May to compete in the annual Crawfurd Porter Tournament, which this year celebrates its 50th year.

For other Club members, and players from surrounding hockey clubs, after a short break through to May, mixed hockey leagues will begin at the Chester Road ground. This will include a franchise league, for players from the higher divisions, and a more social league for all other who wish to participate.