Unbeaten season and champions tag enough to delight Welwyn Garden City Hockey Club
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Welwyn Garden City Hockey Club had one thing to celebrate prior to the shutdown of sport - the East Hockey League Division Six South West title for their men’s second team.
It came with an unbeaten campaign, 19 wins and two draws from their 21 games, but they were denied the invincibles tag as their final league game at fifth-placed Rickmansworth was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
But it will still be remembered with great fondness by players and supporters of the De Havilland-based side.
WGC captain Nick Reilly said: “It was an outstanding season. What pleased us most was the fluid passing and positive style of play which was great to play in.
“The results speak for themselves. We were lucky to have a good balance of youth and experience this year and high availability enabled a consistent game plan.
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“It’s very rare for any side to go unbeaten in a season so we’re all delighted.”
In total they racked up 83 goals while conceding just 18.
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The miserly defence based around the solid central defensive pair of Stuart Stephen and Simon Walker who limited the shots faced by keeper Jack Blackbourn. When called upon however he produced some outstanding saves, especially in the tighter games of the season.
Up front veteran strikers Paul Kimber and Arif Hassan were the league’s most potent strike force, with Kimber accumulating 28 league goals.
These were supplemented by timely goals from the mercurial Alan Clarke and some stand out finishes from George Reilly and Dan Hatt.
Long-serving full-back David Searle was the side’s penalty corner supremo, converting 12 times and throughout the season he linked well with Hatt and the outstanding youngster Will Reilly whose all-round game enabled him to play across the defence and midfield as required.
Younger brother George Reilly also graced both midfield and defence, cameoing up front as well.
Anchoring the midfield were the combative Matt O’Connell and versatile Jeremy Rosenberg, with skipper Reilly at the top of the midfield diamond.
Squad members Nick Hume, Imran Khan and Toby Owen ably stepped in throughout the season as and when they were needed.