Paul ‘Sturge’ Leigh running Greater Manchester Marathon for charity, Please Donate!

Paul ‘Sturge’ Leigh is a long term member of Whitchurch hockey club, and is also a firefighter. He and his colleagues are aiming to raise £1,000 to support MIND & The Firefighters Charity.

Paul and a team of Firefighters from Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service are running the Greater Manchester MARATHON in full fire fighting kit to raise money for MIND & The Firefighters Charity.

Following this they will also be participating in the Great Manchester Half Marathon in Full Kit but also with the addition of a breathing apparatus set weighing 15kg!

Please find link below to their fund raising page as all donations will be greatly appreciated.

Whitchurch Hockey Club would like to wish them all the best.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/marathonmadness

Match Reports 23/03/19

Whitchurch Men’s 1s 4 Northop Hall Men’s 2s 2

Whitchurch’s final game of the season was at home and, with league safety assured, they looked to play a controlled match against a team fighting at the bottom of the table. With the pressure driving Northop to go for the win, the game started with great intensity which Whitchurch had to ensure they matched.

The first half was full of strong tackles, and powerful drives, and a few cards were shown when both teams got too enthusiastic but on the whole the two sides were evenly balanced. Northop Hall made some good runs and aggressive drives down both wings, and were again kept out by some excellent work by Paul “Sturge” Leigh in goal, including a smart glove deflection which looped up and bounced off the crossbar and away. Whitchurch’s midfield had plenty of work to do, but Alex Fry, Marcus Conway, Tom Forster, Jack Barnes and Dale Seymour worked the ball well to wrestle control of the match away from Northop, and up front, Nick Cooper, Ben Kimberley, Craig Hockenhull and Sam Conway were able to find their way into the Northop dee on several occasions, but some good work by their defence and keeper kept the score down.

Eventually the pressure told, with some lovely work by Cooper driving into the dee and then switching the ball to Marcus Conway who slotted the ball into the goal. Conway was then heavily involved in the second, working a good one-two with Barnes who ran round the edge of the dee before putting all his power through the ball past the keeper’s head into the top of the netting from a tight angle.

As the second half developed, Whitchurch maintained good control of the match. Whereas in the first half some passes hadn’t made their targets or were speculative hits up the pitch, balls were reaching their targets and marking was much better. This was never more apparent than when Northop had sixteen’s where time and again there was no out-ball for them as every player was marked, so they would hit-and-hope – but a Red stick would pick the ball very early and pressure would immediately be applied again. One such pickup led to a goalmouth scramble where Sam Conway finally got his first goal of the season as he tapped in at the back post.

The Reds had shot after shot at goal which were either kept out by good work from the Northop keeper, or missed by inches. However, Northop did finally get a goal back as a speculative ball forward got past James Partington in defence and was picked up and flicked over a diving Sturge right at the edge of the Whitchurch dee. The defence of Partington, Pip Jones, Danny Foulkes, Airan Jones and Fred Egerton had a solid game, and were able to prevent a number of attacks and generally marked well, but the Northop forwards were well-drilled and quick, and another breakaway doubled the score as a Northop attacker got into the dee and was able to force the ball out from under a prone keeper and into the goal for their second.

Whitchurch rallied, determined not to get the game get away from them and some more simple but effective hockey, moving the ball well up the wings and across the dee let Cooper get one more for the season as he slotted the ball in at the back post after some more strong work in the Northop dee. Whitchurch finish the season mid-table, again showing their ability across the season but also knowing there are areas to improve upon for next year. The younger players have had strong seasons and merited their selection time and again; the older players provided experience and composure and the ones in between gave their all with speed and skill, and the sense of team spirit was far improved this year. A good season comes to an end, promising a bright 2019/20 season to come.

Northop Hall Men’s 3s 3 Whitchurch Men’s 2s 0

The Men’s 2s travelled to Hawarden on Saturday afternoon for their final game of the season against Northop Hall 3s. With the home side a couple of points behind table-toppers Chester, they themselves were looking for a win to set up a title decider against Chester next weekend. On paper this was always going to be a tough fixture for the Reds but, for the second week running, the 2s went into a match with a full squad of 16 players, three of which had already played u14s hockey in Shropshire that morning.

The visitors started the match strongly. Richard Leigh, Joe Coburn and Ethan Gresty were keeping good possession high up the pitch and creating some promising positions for James Page and Jacob Buckeridge. Euan Morris was always involved linking the play but Northop defended well, and on a really slow and challenging playing surface, Whitchurch couldn’t fashion any meaningful chances.

After weathering the early storm, the home side began to find their passes and as Whitchurch attacks broke down, Northop Hall were quick to counter. Doug Buckeridge, Mark Sugden, Wyn Morris and Brendan Coburn had to work hard to deal with powerful running from the Northop midfield and the pace the home side had available up front. As the half progressed the defending became a bit more ragged and the home side started to win short corners, although Gareth Teggin was relatively untested in goal.

Eventually, with the pressure mounting on the Whitchurch goal, the home side opened the scoring after a short corner. A poor clearance was returned into the dee and Gareth Teggin’s kick clear unfortunately fell straight onto a Northop stick, with the ball being swept back into an unguarded goal.

The Reds were soon 2-0 down, and frustrated when a late tackle seemed to have knocked the defenders stick out of his hand when trying to clear the ball out of the dee, leaving Northop in a good position to square the ball past Gareth for a finish into an empty goal.

Whitchurch continued to plug away, but were struggling to find their passing range on the slow pitch. Passes were often falling short of their intended recipients and the visiting players were finding it difficult to dribble the ball with enough pace to get past the solid Northop defending.

Whitchurch shuffled their formation at halftime, looking to plug some of the gaps in the centre of the pitch that Northop had exploited in the first half. David Brunyard and Alex Leigh were sitting a little deeper to protect the defenders and Joe Faithfull and Luke Beddow were tucking in to force Northop into the wider areas of the pitch. This worked reasonably well over the course of the second half as plenty of Northop attacks were being stopped at source. The defenders continued to work hard and reduced the home side’s shooting chances, but keeper Teggin did make one excellent stop when one-on-one with the Northop striker.

Unfortunately the Reds did concede a third goal from a messy short corner. As Wyn broke early, it looked like the umpire was going to stop play and reset the short, but when the whistle didn’t go it was Northop who were first to react and the ball was scruffily pushed into the Whitchurch goal.

Throughout the second half Whitchurch tried to play the good passing hockey that has become a pleasingly familiar sight from the side over the past couple of months. Despite the struggles with the pace of the pitch they managed to work themselves into some good positions. Owen Pearce and James Page were offering Euan plenty of support up front, and Ethan, the two Joes, Luke and Jacob all found themselves in good attacking positions. But despite plenty of shots the team couldn’t find that elusive goal through a combination of good defending, good goalkeeping and simply missing the target.

This was a tough afternoon for the Reds on a tricky pitch against a good side, but despite the 3-0 defeat the side gave a good account of themselves and really made Northop Hall work hard for their victory. Perhaps the team will feel that all of the goals could have been dealt with a bit better, or on another day the umpire’s calls may have gone in their favour, but that would be a bit churlish to the home side, who played well and probably deserved their victory in a good game of hockey.

The 2s currently sit 7th in the league table with Runcorn and Oxton playing each other next weekend, they cannot finish bottom of the league this season.

But the league table isn’t important, because more significant has been the development of this very young side since September. The 2s have lost all of their experienced players to circumstances and the 1s,  but six of the current under-14s and seven other juniors, all under 16-years old, have played regularly for the 2s this season. The side has recovered from losing all of their first 8 games of the season and have mustered three wins, a draw, and two tight defeats away to the top two sides in the division from their final eight matches. The Men’s 2s are now playing some really good hockey and working very hard to prevent their opponents from playing. The players should be proud of their progress this season and should look forward to making further progress in the seasons to come.

Captain, Doug Buckeridge, would like to extend his thanks to everybody who has played 2s hockey this season, the drivers, the players and families who have helped out with teas, and the umpires who have officiated home and away this season. Roll on September!

Match Reports 16/03/19

Chester ladies 3s 1 Whitchurch ladies 1s 9

The final game of the season for the ladies 1s was played away against Chester 3s. Whitchurch ladies were fired up to finish with a win and they certainly showed they deserved a place in division 2.

From the push back Whitchurch kept possession moving the ball around the Chester players. Within minutes of the game Hebe Dixon shot the ball into the net for their first. All Chester could do was to hold back in defence as Whitchurch kept attacking. Lots of pressure from forwards Stephanie Stanton and Izzy Huxley allowed Dixon in the dee again to score their second. Chester broke a couple of times but were quickly picked up by defenders Millie Edwards and Emma Harper moving the ball out wide to Sophie Ward and Helena Dannenfeldt.

More shots on goal for Whitchurch and Ellie Windsor managed to slip one passed the keeper, quickly followed by a deflection from Jessica Carruthers. Whitchurch had a run of short corners which allowed Dixon to strike another into the Chester goal. Captain Catherine Winter-Gresty and Lisa Sullivan protected the middle of the pitch and kept forcing the ball wide, Whitchurch kept moving the ball accurately around Chester and a fast moving ball was collected by Helena Dannenfeldt and slotted into the corner. Dixon scored their sixth goal from a strike from top dee just before half time.

6-0 up and Whitchurch spirits were very high. Keen to get back to the game Whitchurch set up quickly raring to go. Chester had a change round of players and seemed a little stronger, quickly winning a short corner and scoring from it. This didn’t put Whitchurch off as they came back with some fantastic movement up the pitch and Lisa Sullivan saw a gap from top dee and scored the seventh. Jessica Carruthers deflected the eighth from a shot in from Windsor. Whitchurch keeper Maddy Sugden had a quiet game only touching the ball twice clearing the ball out to Millie Edwards. Chester dropped more players in to defend but Whitchurch just had time for another goal from Hebe Dixon before the whistle went.  A fantastic game to finish on for the ladies 1s and a promotion into division 2.

Whitchurch ladies 3’s 2 Neston ladies 5s 1

Whitchurch started their final match of the season with a strong attack led by centre forward Annie Buckeridge and supported by Mia Spruce and Kate Buckeridge. This attack continued and after some excellent passes from Laura Workman on the left wing found its way into the dee where Whitchurch had a shot on goal which was deflected and Holly Gilbert made an excellent aerial shot off the rebounding ball resulting in the first goal of the game for Whitchurch.

Neston then applied some pressure to Whitchurch and after battling through Emily Lister in mid field, Jan Teggin in defence and goalie Louise Cottrell managed to equalise the score line so by half time the teams were equal.

After a half time talk Whitchurch returned to the pitch hungry for more success. The attack of Milly Carruthers and Laura workman resulted in Whitchurch being awarded a short corner. Gayle Ladd received the ball but Neston were quick to defend the penalty corner but after a strong attack in the dee Wendy Cooper placed a shot into goal which was finished off by Ladd putting Whitchurch 2-1 ahead.

Neston continued to attack but Whitchurch’s Annie Leigh and Beth Wright made some excellent challenges to win the ball, and Mel Reid made some excellent clearances from the back to send the ball to the Whitchurch attackers.

Whitchurch ladies 3’s would like to thank all the coaches and supporters who have been with them this season.

Oxton Men’s 4s 2 Whitchurch Men’s 1s 1

Whitchurch’s last away game of the season was at Oxton in some blustery conditions against a team of youthful but skilful players, and the match was fairly evenly balanced. Oxton’s team may have been young, but gave every impression of having trained together for years as they drove up the pitch in formation time and again, with confident and accurate passes and excellent movement off the ball. Whitchurch in turn mostly kept to their tasks of marking and closing down attacks, but just lacked at times the composure on the ball with first touches and passes often making things harder for themselves. There were some good passages of play, but too many of the balls forward didn’t quite make their targets, or clearances from the back just went to an opposition stick, so it was not unexpected when the pressure told and Oxton drove into the dee and fired a ball at goal which went through James Partington’s legs completely unsighting goalkeeper Paul “Sturge” Leigh. Shortly afterwards another drive forward by Oxton ended with a speculative ball across the dee to no-one unfortunately clipping Airan Jones’ foot past Sturge into the goal.

The half time break gave the Reds a chance to regroup, but ultimately it was a case of doing what they already knew they needed to: tighten the marking, improve the passing and movement and keep composed on the ball. The second half started much brighter for Whitchurch with them taking the momentum in the match and having a lot of possession, especially in the Oxton end of the pitch. A number of shots were unlucky not to go in, or were saved by the excellent Oxton keeper, and when Oxton did break, the marking at the back was better from the Reds. Sturge was called on a number of times but, like last week, was able to keep out one-on-one attacks with strong blocks and good clearances. Danny Foulkes again provided composure and strength at the back, and Jones and Fred Egerton were strong out wide in defence as well as driving the ball out from the back. Alex Fry, Marcus Conway and Jack Barnes took control of the centre of the pitch, and Sam Conway, Craig Hockenhull, Ben Kimberley, Tom Forster and Nick Cooper rotated well at the front, getting behind the Oxton defence and causing them trouble. Eventually the pressure won Whitchurch a short corner and the routine went well, with Foulkes injecting and then receiving the switch back again to slot the ball through the defence to get Whitchurch on the scoreboard.

The second half of the second half was much tougher for Whitchurch as the superior fitness and precision of the Oxton team showed, with attack after attack coming down the wings with runners on the overlap. Oxton won a number of short corners in the second half, and Partington made two baseball-like clearances from flicks as the defence rallied and Sturge made critical blocks, but the momentum had shifted back and it is to Whitchurch’s credit that they worked together well enough to prevent any more goals. Sadly, despite some excellent work by the midfield and forwards to make some scoring chances in the final few minutes, the ball stayed out and the game ended 2-1. Whitchurch’s final game of the season is at home next week against Northop Hall 2s.

 

Whitchurch Men’s 2s 3 – 1 Denbigh Men’s 2s

For their final home game of the season Whitchurch welcomed Denbigh 2s to a damp and blustery SJT. Earlier in the season Denbigh had shaded a close game by three goals to two, but the Welsh side were only able to bring nine players to Shropshire, so hopes were high that the Reds could get a positive result from this fixture.

With their numerical superiority, Whitchurch dominated possession in the early stages. David Brunyard was providing the energy and Joe Coburn the guile in the centre of the pitch, whilst Joe Faithfull, Ethan Gresty, Owen Pearce and Jacob Buckeridge were creating width down the flanks as they subbed on and off. Good interplay led to some promising positions around the dee and the Reds won a couple of short corners that Denbigh survived with some last-ditch defending.

The Reds did open the scoring early in the half when, after some neat Whitchurch play, Joe Coburn flicked the ball from the edge of the dee into the far corner of the goal.

Despite continuing to dominate possession and territory, Whitchurch needed to be wary of quick counterattacks by the Welsh side. The Reds defence of Doug Buckeridge, Mark Sugden, Wyn Morris, Brendan Coburn and Will Snaith were dealing with most of the attacks and Denbigh struggled to get clear shooting chances. They did force a couple short corners but these were well dealt with by Whitchurch.

Midway through the half the home side were caught out as the pacy Denbigh winger managed to sneak behind the defenders and receive the ball on his own in the dee. Keeper Glyn Teggin came out but was unable to prevent the Welsh side from levelling the scores.

Whitchurch pushed forward to make amends for their mistake, but despite Richard Leigh’s calming presence in midfield, the Reds were struggling to string passes together near the Welsh dee. When they did get possession in the dee, shots were rushed and the visiting keeper was well protected by his defenders. Eventually the home side did find their composure and a good move down the right, involving Joe Coburn and Ethan Gresty, saw Luke Beddow sweep the ball home to restore the Whitchurch lead.

The home side continued to dominate territory and possession in the second half and created a good opportunity from the push back by carefully passing the ball through the Denbigh team, making the most of their numerical advantage.

Throughout the half, Whitchurch created chances in the opposition dee. Sometimes a lack of composure led to rushed and uncontrolled shots and on other occasions there was a surprising reticence to shoot when well placed. The Denbigh defence and keeper worked really hard to limit the Reds chances, with the keeper making two or three really good saves and Welsh bodies being put on the line, literally and metaphorically, to keep the ball out of their goal.

Whitchurch won a number of short corners during the second half and at the umpteenth attempt, Euan Morris and Joe Coburn played a clever one-two in the dee and Euan fired home to make it 3-1 to the home side.

Euan was unlucky not to add to his tally as the whistle went for a short corner just as he put the ball into the Denbigh net. Alex Leigh was denied from close range by various Welsh body parts and the home side were unable to find a finishing touch to a couple of goal mouth scrambles.

Despite their tiring legs, Denbigh tried to create their own chances. Their speedy captain was always a threat on the counterattack and whilst the threat to the Whitchurch goal was sporadic, the defenders needed to be on their toes and Glyn Teggin needed to make a couple of good clearances.

Whitchurch were good value for the 3-1 score line, but, churlishly, this was probably their least impressive performance of the past couple of months. Massive credit should go to the 9-men of Denbigh who defended doggedly and really made the home side work for the victory. Whitchurch had very few clear cut chances due to a combination of tight Welsh defending and poor decision making in the dee.

Once again Joe Coburn was a standout performer, but Luke Beddow and Euan Morris played really well upfront and were a constant nuisance to the Denbigh defenders. Will Snaith had a great game in defence but offered good support to the attackers on the right hand side and Richard Leigh offered a calming presence in midfield when Whitchurch were getting a bit ragged and exasperated during the second half.

The Reds play their final game of the season away to Northrop Hall 3s next weekend.

Updated – Shropshire Development Centres – May & June 2019

13/04/19 – Updated to include GK coaching sessions at SJT, Whitchurch
What happens?
Players take part in a range of training sessions or camp-based activities to develop their skills and begin to stretch them beyond school and club hockey.
 
How do I get involved?
  • Players are usually nominated by their school or club to attend a Development Centre
  • Players can be nominated from the age of 12-16
  • Players who want to play more hockey and develop their skills outside of school or club hockey should attend a Development Centre.
What are the entry and exit points?
Players can join a Development Centre at any point during the cycle but, depending on location, Centres will run at different points during the season. Details of running dates can be obtained from your Country Administrator; a list of these can be found here.
 
Who is it run by?
All Development Centres are run by County Hockey Associations (HAs) but they may also be run on a HA’s behalf by clubs, schools or coaching companies.

Senior, Junior and Academy hockey in North Shropshire