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M3s are Champions

Stroud M3s are Marches Division 2 Champions

Stroud Hockey Club’s 2016-2017 season end celebrations feature a marvellous performance by the Men’s 3rd XI.  The team secured promotion 2 weekends ago with a nervous 0-0 draw at home, before sealing the Champions’ spot on Saturday, beating a resolute, but destined to be second on the day, Newent B side.

With one game remaining, Stroud can afford to enjoy the game, safe in the knowledge that all their hard work, dedication to the team and a massive desire to play attractive hockey, has paid dividends.  Under the auspices of captain Chris Bargh, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, the squad’s almost unique blend of youth and experience, pace and cunning, ensured the small but stalwart band of supporters were entertained week after week.  Half-time jelly babies aside, no dubious deliveries of controversial substances were required and once Stroud hit the top in the game before the Christmas break, beating then title contenders Winchcombe 6-0 at home, they never looked back with any conviction.  It was all about the next win.

A magnificent defensive record, and an unbeaten home record to boot, were just two stand-outs from the season.  To concede a more than frugal 5 goals at home all season is fantastic.  The defence, fronted, or perhaps backed, by Bryn Nicol in goal, was the foundation of the season-long performance.  Sol Bowen, one of several youngsters who grew in stature throughout the season, cemented his position at left-back and deservedly won the award for most improved player.

Centre midfield maestros – maybe that is an overused term these days – Alex Elder and Steve Batt provided the pivoting power, distributing the ball with aplomb and displaying more than a pinch of tenacity and steel when the chips were down.  They were also gracious enough to allow part-time midfielders, namely the strikers, to take their places when required.  In all honesty, the squad had the ability and confidence to play in almost any position on the pitch, without detriment to the result.

A goal difference of 71 is something at which nobody should sniff.  The potent strike force of Chris Bargh, voted player of the year by our readers (sorry, players) and Tim Norman, 28 goals and counting, was pretty deadly, complemented the frugality of the defence.

Before giving a mention to all regular and semi-regular squaddies, mention must be made of Bob Brewer and Nigel Sherwood’s appearances for Gloucestershire Over-60s.  Sherwood reached the semi-finals and attended England O60s trials at the illustrious Olympic Park.  Brewer was unfortunate to miss several matches in the latter half of the season, but was named the club’s Umpire of the Year at the annual Dinner and Dance, as he switched his efforts.

Yes, perhaps it is all about the statistics, but, in truth, all we need to say is “We are the Champions” and give a shout-out to the valiant buccaneers who have made those such an enjoyable and successful season.

The regulars … Chris Bargh, Tim Norman, Matt Watts, Dom Creech, James Testar, Sol Bowen, Nigel Williams, Huw Widgery, Bryn Nicol, Ollie Roberts, Alex Elder, Steve Batt, Harvey Freer, Dan Rose-Innes, Bob Brewer

The slightly irregular (no offence intended) … Stuart Holt, Hamish Norman, Calum Norman

The odd appearances … Nick Hitchcroft, Dan Richards, Henry Bonham, Elliott Bonham

This entry was posted on 20 March 2017 at 08:24 and is filed under General | Match Reports | Mens 3XI. You can leave a response here.

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