End of season 2021/22 Report

Kirkby Stephen Hockey Club (KSHC) finally wrapped up their successful season with Andrea Dixon, presenting the awards.  Andrea has been a huge part of KSHC, from playing to coaching, running the Junior Hockey teams and of course, being part of the organisation, which ensured the grants for the tremendous pitch that the club are proud to play on. 

At the beginning of the season the club decided to take on the challenge of fielding 3 ladies teams.  The first team have had an incredible season, finishing 3rd in the North West Premier league, with the hair-raising race for the title in the final game, behind Liverpool Sefton 1sts and Bowdon 2nds.  With the “popular partnership” of captains, Rachael Gowing (captain) and Anthea Bowman (vice captain), Jenny Sayer (chairperson) said “being a captain can be a thankless job at times, but these two seem to do it with the energy and enthusiasm which shines through the team”.  The team also had an unsettling loss when Lucy Potter had to take some time off, and a few weeks later, Julie Hope; two experienced and talented players who had such a big impact on the team.  However, quoting the cheeky captains speech “out with the old and in with the new”, in came the youngsters stepping up to the first team, and they remarkably stood up to the mark with such confidence. 

The first team voted Jessica Harrison for the ‘Most Improved’ player, with Jess starting in defence to playing among midfield, whatever the position Jess played her heart out week in, week out.  The team voted Sophie Winder and Anna Pigney for the ‘Players Player’, both of which playing both ends of the pitch, goalkeeper and forward, being vital roles throughout the season, keeping spirits high with their vocals but really thriving throughout the whole season.


At the start of the season, the club formed the Development team as the 3rd team, as many of them were yet to play against adults.  This was led by Jenny Sayer and Debbie Barr, who not only play a big part in the club already, but the success of these youngsters has a lot to do with these two.  After a few games in, and realising how successful they were, the club decided to swap them into the 2nd team, moving from the North West Division 3 North (Cumbria league) into the North West Division 2 North (playing Lancaster Uni 1s, Preston 1s, Fylde 3s and more!).  This was a huge step from the youngsters to take, and they did it!  They went from winning every game by nearly double figures, to having to experience a few losses.  Although it felt quite deflating sometimes, every player has improved on this team, their confidence has grown and they truly are an asset to the club!  And it goes without saying, the support from the side-lines from all the parents, no matter where the games were and what the weather brought that day, was paramount!

The second team voted Lilia Hutchinson and Roslyn Civil for the ‘Most Improved’ players, with them both increasing in confidence, talking more in the game to even the adults, an exciting season of progression for the two youngsters.  The team voted Tilly Rose for the ‘Players Player’, another little star who stepped up into the first team, but was certainly missed by the teammates in the second team, yet made them so proud with her success this season.

The third team consisted of a total of 40 players in total from week to week, with it being rare that the same 11 were available more than one week.  With Grace Wren (captain), with her side kick Eleanor Dent until Christmas, and then Lisa Bousfield and Di Boustead, playing a big part in ensuring the thirds had a team late on a Friday night before!  Grace never went in the role of captain to be the best hockey player, she wanted to let her hair down at a weekend with a bunch of pearling characters and have a laugh with a run around.  And she did.  This made it worth the while for those 40 players to turn up on a Saturday.  Many of these players were played out of position several times, but no one ever complained.  The way this team can play hockey, get beat and still have a laugh is admirable, and when they didn’t get beat, even better!  They aren’t just a team, they are a family of FUN, reminding us all what hockey is about; a togetherness working together, a form of exercise and a right good giggle! 

The third team voted Bethany Handley for the ‘Most Improved’ player, with only playing 50% of fixtures around her shifts working as a nurse, Bethany has also grown in confidence on the pitch and an vital part to the team.  The team voted Ange Clegg for the ‘Players Player’ who also has thrived in confidence week on week, her vocals and commitment to the team is remarkable, fulfilling the role that many couldn’t do, goalkeeper.


Jenny also thanked all the coaches: Janette McWhirter (first team coach), Alistair Barr (second & third team coach, Graham Munday (second & third team, and goalkeeping coach).  All three of which committed their time, knowledge of the game and experience in high level hockey across the club.  The ladies teams wouldn’t have been as successful without their positivity and commitment, and the club is so grateful for that.


Jenny then went on to discuss the Minis and Junior Hockey which happens every Monday, without fail, with so much time going into the organisation and planning into it.  Minis, run by Debbie Barr, Claire Smithson, Linda Johnstone and Lilly Alderson, have a great number turning up each week from as young as 5 up to 11.  Juniors (Secondary School Age) which is run by Andrea Dixon, and who has assisting coaches every week helping.

“Both sections of the minis and juniors have had a magnificent year with brilliant results at the local festivals in the county.  I would like to take the time to thank Debbie herself here as she takes the time to organise these festivals with all the other clubs.  Pulling these festivals together and sorting out the draws for the day.  This job is invaluable to the Kids as no hockey at all would get played, this really is appreciated by all.  The days of hockey are always manic as so many kids, but they love it and so much fun hockey happens- thank you.  I would like to also thank you Andrea, Claire, Lil, Rach, Vicki, Lisa and other leaders who have given their time up and invaluable coaching hours, whether on a Monday evening or on Sunday for competitions.”


The U10s Girls and Boys, and U12 Boys and Girls all qualified to go through to Macclesfield.  “This was a huge experience for the kids, it always is a huge step for them, but as always, they all took it in their stride, and some fantastic hockey was played, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day, from coaches to players.”  U16s entered the North West Tier 2 Championships and after finishing top of the table in the group stages, they qualified for the final day and won it – a huge credit to the girls!  I would like to say a huge thank you to the leaders of the Minis and Juniors and all the helpers, as all the hard work is paying off!”


The club also hosted a fundraiser early in the year, ‘Bonkers Bingo’, which was a fantastic night with so much money raised.  This could not be done without those who were involved in the organising, and keep your eyes peeled for the new date to be announced in the autumn!


The club will be hosting an AGM on 12th June, and would like to welcome anyone to come along and support.  For more information, get in touch with the Facebook Page, Kirkby Stephen Hockey Club.


A top 3 finish in the North West Premier League for Kirkby Stephen!

Kirkby Stephen Ladies 1s went into their last game of the season with nothing to lose but it all to play for. The fight at the top of top of the North West Premier League was even grabbing attention from England Hockey with Kirkby lurking in 3rd position, a win against the top of the table Liverpool Sefton would mean taking the promotion place, and 2nd place Bowdon would need a high scoring win to take 1st place.


“It is incredibly tight at the top of the North West Women’s Premier Division, with just one round of games remaining this Saturday. Liverpool Sefton and Bowdon 2 are level on 49 points, but Kirkby Stephen are lurking in third on 46 points – and they host Sefton this weekend. That game takes place at 1pm, and if Sefton win they would go three points clear with a goal difference better than Bowdon’s by at least +5. Bowdon would then need a big win at home to Lancaster in their 3:45pm match. However if Kirkby Stephen win the early match, they would themselves go top, with a goal difference at least +6 better than Bowdon, but Bowdon would then only need a point to take the title.” 


All eyes were on the fight between Kirkby and Sefton at Kirkby Stephen with a spectacular home crowd cheering the local ladies on. As expected the game starting with high intensity with both teams moving the ball fast but it was Liverpool who took the early lead after a quick break and a great deflection from the opposition.


This pushed the home side to step up to the next gear, and shortly after equalised when Martha Bainbridge won a penalty corner. Anna Pigney injected the ball, but the opposition reacted too quick and had to send a defender to the halfway line. And yet again, with Pigneys injection, the second defender was sent to the halfway line; leaving the keeper & 2 defenders in the goal to defend the next penalty corner. On the 3rd attempt the ball was sent to the top of the D to Heidi Maughan, Maughan slipped the ball to the right, where Anthea Bowman pushed the ball onto the left post and Anna tapped it in over the line, 1-1, the amazing homeside crowd roared! 

Kirkby Stephen then lead the game with another short corner, where Tilly Rose injected the ball to the top, and Martha Bainbridge perfectly placed the ball through all the sticks and into the backboard, 2-1. Further encouragement from the sidelines cheering on the home side. 

Sefton then felt the serious pressure, as their top of the league title was slowly drifting away from them. They soon stepped up, and pinged the ball into the back of the net from another unstoppable deflection, 2-2. Unfortunately with 5 minutes to go, Sefton confirmed their title with another textbook finish. 

Kirkby Stephen had a remarkable game, with every player giving 110%. Starting with Mags Donnelly, Martha Bainbridge and Anna Pigney hassling up front, creating so much space with their lovely runs, and playing some superb balls. Then for the midfield, Anthea Bowman, Tilly Rose, Heidi Maughan, Catherine Ewbank, Rachael Gowing and Nicole Clegg, who all covered so much mileage, running back and forth to pack in the centre structure of the team, finding and creating some amazing set pieces, as well as helping the defenders win the ball off the opposition. Then we reach Sophie and her angels; Goalkeeper Sophie Winder made some remarkable saves, with Sefton shooting at all angles, and defence, Vicki Capstick, Lilia Hutchinson and Jenny Coates, who did not show any fear tackling some fierce shots and movements in attack. And not to forget, Janette McWhirter and Lucy Potter coaching & subbing on the side-line; their support on & off the pitch, positivity and passion shone through the team on the pitch. 

Man of the match was awarded to Sophie Winder for her reactions in the net that kept the game so close for the 70 minutes; a perfect way to finish another terrific season for Sophie! 

Kirkby Stephen 1st team only just missed promotion into the National League, but what an amazing achievement for the little of Kirkby Stephen to finish 3rd position in the North West Premier League. After some difficult injuries this season, it has been breath-taking to watch the 14 year olds step up to adult hockey with such confidence, skill & stamina. The 1st team’s achievements is reflective on the 2nd & 3rd team, and of course the Mini’s & Junior’s. Thank you to all who have got involved with a successful season of 2021/22, from parents driving their kids to Macclesfield, to players & coaches turning up to the blustery weather at KSGS. 

Bring on next year, the future is going to be amazing!!! 

Picture- back row (L to R) : Janette McWhirter (Head Coach), Catherine Ewbank, Vicki Capstick, Jenny Coates, Sophie Winder, Rachael Gowing (Captain), Heidi Maughan, Anna Pigney and Lucy Potter (former player & Assistant Coach). 
Front row (L to R) : Martha Bainbridge, Tilly Rose, Lilia Hutchinson, Anthea Bowman, Nicole Clegg and Mags Donnelly.