Fri, 04 Sept 2020
THE long wait is nearly over!
After seeing their league season brought to an abrupt halt by the coronavirus outbreak in March, Newbury & Thatcham Hockey Club are looking forward to getting back into action this weekend.
The men’s first team have four friendlies planned before their Middlesex, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Regional 1 opener at home to Eastcote on September 26.
And the women’s 1st XI begin their warm-up at Windsor on Saturday.
Further friendlies at Oxford and at home to Andover follow before they travel to Aylesbury in their first Trysports 3 Counties Premier 1 match of the season.
And joint skipper Annalie Thomasson can’t wait to start playing again.
She said: “We are all eager to get started.
“We didn’t manage to finish the last season, so we are all looking forward to playing.”
The coronavirus put paid to summer hockey this year and the players have been observing strict social distancing rules in pre-season training.
Thomasson, who is sharing the captaincy with Hannah Jones, said: “We have not been using equipment until this week – it was really good to pick up a stick and a ball and get back out on the astro again.
“The coaches put together pre-season training sessions involving cardio work and drills in small bubbles and they were really well attended.
“Last week we had our first trials and a few small-sided games
“The coaches have done a great job and the communication from the club has been very good throughout the summer.”
Mark Ferguson, who has stepped down as men’s 1st XI captain this season, said: “There is a great buzz around the club at the moment and the standards are improving.
“We have got a couple of young players coming up through the ranks and a couple of people who have moved to the area have joined, so there is plenty of competition for places.
“It is exciting to be back. We were promoted last year, but there were missed opportunities when we could have done better, so we will look to put that right this season.”
Although, the leagues have decided to resume, there will be strict guidelines in place.
Players have to use their own equipment, including facemasks at short corners, and they are not allowed to touch the ball.
They must travel to games on their own and there will be limited space in the clubhouse.
But at least players can get back to a bit of normality by competing again.
And Thomasson is confident that Newbury & Thatcham can make an impact in the league this season.
She said: “We have lost a few players to university, but we have had a few new players joining and there are a lot of juniors coming through.
“All the players have come back because the club has done such a good job with making everyone feel safe.”
Last season’s campaign finished with four games still to play.
Final league positions were worked out on an average points system and Newbury finished in mid-table.