All posts by Craig Hockenhull

Match Reports – 18-03-23

Whitchurch Ladies 1s 5 Macclesfield Ladies 2s 0

Whitchurch ladies 1s played against Macclesfield 2s this weekend, coming onto the pitch with the hot weather they knew it was going to be a hard game.

Whitchurch started off strong but with Macclesfield’s strong defence in the dee it was hard to find the gaps and score the first goal. The midfield players Molly Fry, Lisa Sullivan and Mollie Bell worked their way up to the dee and with a shot on goal bouncing off the goalie Valerie Fabery de Jonge pushed the ball into the goal.

With the first goal scored Whitchurch had their confidence back. Macclesfield fought back with counter attacks from the back, hitting the balls to their fast midfield players.

Chloe Lloyd and Hayleigh busby in defence picked up the balls through the middle and it was hard for them to get into Whitchurch’s dee. There were some great passes from Jasmine Williams down the line to Mollie Bell who would then pass multiple players with her skills and pass it on to Poppy Huxley who made some great lead runs.

The second goal followed shortly after the first with a great pass from Lisa Sullivan in midfield to Valerie Fabery who was on the top of the dee and shot it in with her reverse in the bottom right corner.

Before the end of the first half Whitchurch started another attack, Cath Gresty running into the dee along the baseline and passing it to Molly Bell who was positioned perfectly and scored the third goal of the game.

During half time Whitchurch got their energy back and started the second half with the drive to keep going.

With Hermione Ball in the back stopping Macclesfield’s attackers, Whitchurch started to attack again. The ball got intercepted by Macclesfield’s defence, but Valerie Fabery got the ball back and ran past the other defenders and scored the fourth goal.

Out of nowhere the sun disappeared and it started raining and Whitchurch lost their vision for a little bit and Macclesfield tried to make their way through the pitch with some counter attacks, but when the rain stopped Whitchurch got back on track and in the last 10 minutes of the game had a great attack starting in the back with Hayleigh Busby, passing it onto Molly Bell who ran into the dee and by passing it through the legs of the defender Valerie Fabery received it and shot it into the goal which made the 5th goal of the game.

Until the last-minute Whitchurch had everyone on the team fighting for the ball and everyone in the team especially Chloe Lloyd, Cath Gresty and Lisa Sullivan had some great interceptions stopping Macclesfield entering the Whitchurch dee.

A fantastic game for Whitchurch overall.


Whitchurch Mens 1s 0 – Crewe Vagrants 2s 4

Whitchurch lost this week to league leaders – and now champions – Crewe Vagrants 2s in a game that Crewe had been preparing for three weeks, and that preparation paid off with a goal in the first couple of minutes to put the Reds on the back foot. Whitchurch regrouped and the game levelled off with both sides having good chances to score – the Reds had a number of opportunities which were either blocked by the Crewe keeper or defence at the last second, despite some excellent work up the pitch from dee to dee, or just lacked that final touch.

Crewe picked up their second with a penalty stroke, and a third before the break as Whitchurch’s marking – which had been good for long periods of the match – faded and Crewe players were able to get free and break away. At half-time, the talk was about playing their game, improving the marking, and having better ball control despite the heavens opening, and the second half was again an even affair with both sides having chances. As play went on, more and more umpiring decisions were getting questioned by both teams until cards were shown to try to regain control. This shifted the balance of play again, and each side took advantage where they could until Crewe got to the top of the dee and unleashed a fine reverse hit that went through the crowd and past the keeper to claim their fourth.

The game continued to ebb and flow until the final whistle – both sides could have found more goals – but Crewe ended worthy winners, and celebrated winning the league in what has been a challenging season.


Whitchurch ladies 3s 1 Triton ladies 2s 8

In a league with such a range of abilities Whitchurch entertained on strong Triton team.

For much of the game Triton controlled the game and took their chances well in the Whitchurch dee to keep the score ticking over.

Whitchurch showed glimpses of their future potential, when Wendy Cooper cut out a Triton pass and passed it to Mabel Hazelhurst who dribbled the ball and passed it to Erin Harden in the dee. Sue Read made an amazing run and won a short corner from which she picked out Arabella Clarke on the post to slot it past the keeper to bring the score to 2-1.

After a strong first half, Whitchurch carried on with a positive attitude chasing and pressuring Triton at every opportunity. Jan Teggin picked out Abi Ashley on the right who then slipped it to Maisie Bennett who made an amazing pass to Grace Haynes who was upfront ready for the ball. Despite all their efforts Triton were the stronger team on the day and despite many tackles from Mel Reid in defence and brilliant saves from keeper Phoebe Gregory Triton ended the match with a 9:1 finish.

Bella Clarke got Whitchurch’s players player.

Whitchurch will be at home again this week against Sandbach 2s.


Knutsford Men’s 2s 11 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 3

Knutsford have become a boggy team for Whitchurch in recent years and this match was no exception. In a game which saw to evenly match teams Knutsford took their chances in front of goal and Whitchurch didn’t.

Knutsford took the lead in the first minute of the game as they pushed forward from the whistle into the Whitchurch dee, won a penalty corner and scored.

Whitchurch were left reeling and Knutsford took full advantage to score another two goals and go three up after 10 minutes.

Whitchurch then began to settle and string together some possession and won a penalty corner, a Joe Chester’s shot bounced off the keepers pads to the feet of Will Edwards who tapped into the goal.

The game continued to be very open with both teams having opportunities, Knutsford scoring another before Will Edwards latched onto a pass from Tom Edwards to get Whitchurch a second goal. Knutsford then scored another before the break.

Whitchurch’s team talk focussed around keeping up the effort and cutting out the unforced errors.

Whitchurch started the stronger team in the second half and soon pulled another goal back as Danny Foulkes scored from a well worked short corner routine. Joe Chesters’s then forced the Knutsford keeper into an excellent save with a reverse stick shot.

Knutsford continued to press forward and despite Whitchurch’s best efforts every mistake or misplaced pass seem to end up back in their dee with nothing keeper Neil Jones could do to prevent the inevitable.


Crewe ladies 2s 0 Whitchurch ladies 2s 1

Whitchurch 2s team played Crewe 2s. The game started with a lot of good passing around the pitch. Which lead to Eleanor Beecher passing the ball across the pitch to Sophie Jones who passed it back out onto the wing to Heidi Groom who took a shot on goal. However, it was deflected from a Crewe players foot and back to Sophie Jones who hit it into the goal leading to a 1:0 advantage to Whitchurch.

Throughout the rest of the game there was strong a defence from Emma Stubbs, Lucy Hearn and Cath Reece-Gresty which lead to most of Crewe attempts on goal being unsuccessful as well as a lot of amazing saves from Holly Edwards.

There was also great passes around the pitch from Bella Morris as well as Heidi Carr. Freya Gresty and Poppy Gilbert both made good runs down the wings stopping Crewe players and bringing the ball to our attacking end. All together we managed to stop any other attempts on goal from Crewe securing the win









Shropshire Hockey Club Survey – please complete

Dear Shropshire Hockey clubs,

We’ve seen a change in hockey over the last few years, triggered by Covid and everyone’s lives being affected, and the “new normal” has set in. What this means for several clubs, it seems, is that there isn’t the same make-up within memberships as we’ve been used to: numbers in the 20-35 age range specifically seem to be down on previous years/decades. People stopped everything during the pandemic, and seemingly have found new pastimes and hobbies that don’t necessarily include participating in organised sport in the same way as they used to.

This is also not restricted to hockey – other sports like rugby have seen the same change, so it’s a wider problem than any single club or sport. However, there may be more nuance to it than just the prevalence of Netflix, and we don’t want to base any changes on presumption or guesswork. To that end, we’ve created a Google Form to try to capture some accurate data on what is happening.

This form, which can be filled out anonymously, aims to capture information which will let SHA build up an idea of what the common problems are, with a view to trying to find common solutions. This is so that we, as a county and organisation, can look to find ways to bring people back to sport – and hockey specifically – in a way that doesn’t require each club to fight the problem alone.

We would really appreciate it if you would share this with your club membership – committee members, players, parents, supporters and anyone else who may have input on the situation. It’s very easy for us as club committee members to assume we know the problems, but we could be wide of the mark on several things and be working from false premises. This is an attempt to get accurate information on where the problems may lie. Some of the questions are aimed more at committees, but most are relevant to everyone from the U16s to the veterans, players, parents and committee members alike.

The sooner we can get this shared, the sooner we can get the results (and possibly suggestions for changes) back out to the clubs to help us all try to keep hockey as a sport of choice within Shropshire.

Many thanks,

Shropshire Club Survey

Match Reports 11-03-23

Winnington Park Men’s 2s 5 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 2

Whitchurch lost this week to a team hunting promotion, and who were better on the day, but they still showed some of the improvements from recent weeks. The game was played in grim conditions, with persistent cold rain making ball control difficult on a pitch that offered spin and bounce, and this may have formed the basis for the Winnington Park gameplan: their play was based in large part around aerial balls. On other days, this could have seemed one-dimensional, but it was done well by players with strong skills, and almost every sixteen clearance was through the air and the conditions made interceptions difficult – but the pressure was immediately on, with the ball having bypassed the Reds’ midfield already.

It would have been yet more effective, had Winnington Park not been their own worst enemies: much of the first half was marred by their poor discipline and arguing with the officials, and that gave Whitchurch opportunities. A foul on the line gave the Reds a penalty stroke, which captain Jack Barnes put away with aplomb, and Will Edwards scored a second by sheer force of will, driving through defenders before putting the ball away. A second stroke was awarded, but the keeper made an excellent save to deny Barnes another.

However, Winnington Park found their discipline enough to score two goals before the break, despite Paul ‘Sturge’ Leighs continued excellence in goal, with short corner routines being particularly effective. Going in a two-all at half time gave Whitchurch hope that a second half would see more of the same, and allow them to take advantage of any further cards, but it wasn’t to be. Winnington came out in the second half with much-improved discipline and put it to good use. Continued aerial balls, especially on the right wing to lift it over James Partington at left back to give them multiple opportunities to get into the dee, and eventually the dam broke with several short corners piling the pressure up, as well as a breakaway goal which Sturge originally stopped well, but the rebound was dinked over his diving block.

A frustrating day for the Reds, despite many good performances throughout the team, but a few small mistakes against a stronger team on the day were punished. A home game next week against top-of-the-table Crewe will provide another good challenge.

Senior match reports – 04-03-23

Whitchurch ladies 1s 5 Triton ladies 1s 2

Whitchurch Ladies 1s entertained Triton 1s at home this week, after their last meet, they know it was going to be a tough game.

Whitchurch played strongly, using all their players to move the ball forward with many attempts in the first 10 minutes but Triton had a strong defence.

Lisa Sullivan and Molly Fry worked the ball up to Valerie Fabery who started the scoring off with a beautiful reverse shot into left corner.

Now they had that goal Whitchurch settled in and it wasn’t long before Georgia Munro took on the keeper to slip in the second.

Triton fought back and used their fast forwards to keep taking Whitchurch by surprise, but the defence Catherine Reece-Gresty and Hayleigh Busby worked tirelessly to keep Triton out and Whitchurch keeper Holly Edwards made some great saves from Tritons penalty corners.

Mollie Bell made a run into the top of the dee and slapped home Whitchurch’s third goal. Lots of opportunities from Captain Cath Gresty and Lisa Sullivan, but Triton held tight in their dee. Comfortably in the lead unfortunately Triton didn’t give up and had a lucky break to score.

Half time 3 -1 up for Whitchurch, after a quick break Whitchurch set up like the start, but obviously Triton had picked out a weak spot in Whitchurch and managed to score another.

3-2, a little close for Whitchurch.

Valerie Fabery picked up the ball from pushback and drove her way through all of Triton players and scored her second. Sarah Kay and Poppy Huxley held their half positions keeping Triton from reaching the dee.

Play became a lot faster and Whitchurch picked up their game, triangular passes up the right from Jasmin Williams, Cath Gresty and Molly Fry, gave Fabery another opportunity to score her hattrick and make the final score 5-2.

Fantastic position for Whitchurch ladies 1s with promotion looking definite. They play away to Lymm ladies next week.

Lymm ladies 4s 2 Whitchurch ladies 2s 6

Whitchurch won the toss and had pushback, they started confidenty and with some strong passes from Bella Morris the wing to Poppy Gilbert, Sophie Jones and Hayley Kellet gave Whitchurch’s  Heidi Groom an opportunity to score the first goal using great dribbling skills around the Lymm defence.

Bella Morris kept the ball up Whitchurch’s’ attacking end giving Whitchurch lots of shots on goal, but they couldn’t convert due to Lymm’s strong defence. Lucy Hearn, Lydia Jones and Lucy Chadwick worked hard on the left switching the ball to the right and moving it forward to create many chances for Whitchurch to score.

The second goal was scored by Sophie Jones from a short corner. Jones injecting the ball out to Kellet who passed  it back to Jones who neatly slipped it past Lymm’s keeper. There was continuous subbing throughout the match with Eleanor Beecher and Maisie Bennett which helped keep the pressure on Lymm defence.

At the beginning of the second half Lymm started to gain more possession but with strong defence by Emma Stubbs and Hermione Ball Lymm struggled to get many shots on goal and any that did get through were saved by Whitchurch goalie Megan Nicholson. Lymm were awarded a number of short corners and finally managed to score their first goal.

Whitchurch more determined and very quickly moved the ball up the field to Heidi Groom who out skilled all the Lymm’s defence and scored another goal for Whitchurch. Lucy Chadwick then scored by running the ball down the left wing before cutting towards centre of the dee and hitting it into the goal.

Half way through the second half Lymm got another goal meaning the  score was now 4-2. Whitchurch started with the ball which quickly got to the dee and with a shot taken by Poppy Gilbert was deflected by Lymm’s goal keeper to Eleanor Beecher who was waiting to pop it into the goal .

Towards the end of the match and Lymm started to tire and Hayley Kellett went in for a strong tackle winning the ball and finding Bella Morris who passed to Maisie Bennett who found Sophie Jones on the post for another goal.

Whitchurch’s’ player of the match was Heidi Groom due to her movement with the ball and being able to create chances for Whitchurch throughout the game. Lymm also commented on Megan Nicholson goal keeping skills.

Crewe ladies 4s 2 Whitchurch ladies 3s 3

Whitchurch travelled away this weekend to Crewe vagrants.
Whitchurch knew that this was going to be tough game as the home fixture was extremely close with Whitchurch snatching a 1-0 victory.

Whitchurch went out the strongest of the two teams applying pressure via Sue Read and Freya Gresty up front, with Abi Ashely and Bella Clarke supporting from the midfield.

It wasn’t long before Gresty scored past the Crewe keeper to bring the score line to 1-0. This gave Whitchurch the boost that they needed.
Crewe pushed forward and brought a string of saves and tackles from keeper Phoebe Gregory and Ursula Stoddart. Whitchurch kept possession of the ball and a string of passes between Rachel Chester’s, Elsie Cottrell, Erin Harden and Olivia Higazi ended picking out Sue Read in the dee to slot the ball past the keeper.

Crewe were then awarded a penalty corner and managed to pick out the bottom corner of the Whitchurch goal giving Whitchurch the lead at the break.

Whitchurch had a positive half time talk and went back out fighting with Mel Reid and Jan Teggin working together to hold the middle of the pitch, again Gresty picked up the ball and drove all the way to the Crewe dee to picking out Read who fired home her second and Whitchurch some comfort

Within the last few minutes of the game Crewe converted a penalty corner but Whitchurch still won a well-deserved 3 points.

Whitchurch ladies 3s travel away to Macclesfield next week.

Winnington Park Men’s 3s 0 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 2

Whitchurch travelled with a young and inexperienced team and it was the work rate and efforts of these players that ultimately led to the win.

From the start Whitchurch pressured the Winnington Park defence causing them to make to make many last gasp tackles as the speed of Joe Chester’s and the experience of Paul ‘Sturge’ Leigh up front caused the Winnington defensive problems.

Whitchurch won two early short corners and scored two quick goals, the first came as Danny Foulkes shot rebounded from the keepers pads and Craig Hockenhull fired past the keeper. The second came from a shot and a diving Will Edwards deflected home on the back post.

Whitchurch didn’t have it all their own way as Winnington launched their own attacks but Charlie Edwards, Lucas Hill and Thomas Wyndham-Lewis were again excellent in defence taking ball after ball from the Winnington attackers and minimising the work of keeper Neil Jones in goal.

The second half continued in much the same effort with Oliver Hayward and Nikodem Moga driving down the right wings and causing the Winnington defence numerous issues and at the other end Richard Leigh marshalled the Whitchurch defence to frustrate Winnington Park.

As Whitchurch started to tire Airan Jones held strong in the midfield, running non-stop from the start to the end and making countless tackles and supporting the team in both attack and defence.

Winnington had a run of penalty corners towards the end of the game but were frustrated as the routines didn’t work as planned and Whitchurch defended well.

Another three points for the Men’s 2s has lifted them further up the league with a well-deserved victory.