Harleston Magpies Hockey Club hosted the East Hockey In2Hockey Club Championships this weekend 28 and 29 April, and witnessed a display of brilliant hockey, resulting in one Magpies youth team carrying off the title of ‘Regional Champions’, and the U12 girls finishing runners up and bound for the England Hockey national finals in May at Nottingham.
Teams travelled to Harleston from across the East including Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge City, Chelmsford, Sevenoaks and Saffron Walden, plus Norwich City and Norwich Dragons amongst several others.
The Harleston Magpies U10 girls played very well throughout on Saturday 28 April, finally beating Chelmsford 2-0 on penalty strokes in the final after a 0-0 draw in normal time, and winning the title of Regional U10 girls Champions.
On paper they had a difficult section with Canterbury, Sevenoaks, Blue Hornets, Hertford, Sudbury and Magpies, with only the top team going through to the final.
Magpies reached the final with a series of five impressive wins. The success of this team is based on a very strong defence, a commanding centre midfield , and strong goal scoring up front.
In the final, Magpies completely dominated the match but on this occasion they just could not finish off the chances they created and the game finished 0-0. So the final was decided on penalty flicks and fortunately Magpies had learnt their lesson from the Norfolk Championship and won by two penalty flicks to nil. Coach Nick McAllen said: ‘This was nothing less than the U10 Magpies girls deserved as they were clearly the best team there. They played consistently throughout Saturday afternoon, and they thoroughly deserved to be crowned East hockey champions.’
The u12 girls played their regional campaign in high spirits, against Saffron Walden first with a tough 2-all draw. Next up were an amazingly strong unit from Sevenoaks. Magpies nearly caught them napping in the first few seconds but from then on the girls had to work really hard to hold them at bay with the final score a 3 – 0 loss. So with two matches played and only a draw against our name, the Magpies team had to win every game to make it to the semis. Fortunately this was the case with wins against St Albans, Blue Hornets, Bury and then Cambridge in the semi-final.
The girls were thrilled to make it to the final after a tough journey. This meant that the team had already qualified for the Nationals in May in Nottingham. Playing Sevenoaks again to decide who would be East champions was a challenge. U12 girls coach Kathy Gardens said: ‘We knew if we could keep it tight at the start and spoil Sevenoaks’ wonderful attacking play we might be in with a shout but sadly they were very much in form and passed the ball around beautifully. We lost but disappointment was short lived however as the girls were soon celebrating their achievement in reaching the National Finals in just two weeks’ time’.
Club Youth Chairman David Johnson said: ‘This is an excellent set of results from our teams, with the U10 boys also finishing seventh. Despite the cold wet weather, all the players had fun. My sincere thanks to everybody who helped make the tournament happen, both on and off the pitch. The good news is that for some, the season is still not yet over with our U12 girls, and U14 girls and boys playing in national finals over the weekend of 12 and 13 May. They are all a credit to the club.’