Harleston Magpies Hockey Club were celebrating a terrific start to the new season at the England Hockey and Ipswich East Suffolk Hockey Club ‘HockeyFest’ Under-14s tournament, hosted by Ipswich School on Sunday.
Magpies fielded four teams and came away as champions for both the boys and the girls, with a strong runner-up position for the second boys’ team and a commendable third for the second girls’ team.
The girls celebrated a win at this tournament for the second year running, against challenging opposition from clubs from around the area including IES, Bury St Edmunds, Norwich City, Chelmsford, Felixstowe, Sudbury, Blue Hornets, Harwich, and Framlingham.
Junior Magpies sometimes have a history of slow starts in tournaments and with strong clubs like Chelmsford and Braintree’s Blue Hornets first up for both girls’ teams, there was no room for error.
But there was no slow start this time around with all of the teams fully on their game, culminating in their collective success.
John Pope, team manager for the under-14 girls, said: “We really didn’t know what to expect today.
“We have a great squad of girls and at the start getting both teams to the semis looked to be a stretch.
“More importantly than the results the girls played really well from the start and the new Year 8s gelled perfectly with the Year 9s, for which everyone deserves credit.
“This 7-a-side opener has given our squad a fabulous start to the new season.”
Meanwhile, Magpies’ youth development officer, James Smith, added: “Magpies put on a great show of junior hockey this weekend, which highlights the strength in this club at this level.
“Even so, new members are always welcome — you don’t have to start hockey at aged seven to be a success.
“Some of Magpies’ stronger players have picked up a stick for the first time in their mid-teens, sometimes later — me included.”
n Harleston Magpies Ladies’ I suffered a 4-3 defeat from their pre-season friendly trip to Southgate.
Despite the loss, Magpies made a positive start to the game with captain Lauren Barber finding the backboard with a sweep shot.
Southgate drew level through a shot that bobbled in, but Magpies took the lead into the break thanks to another goal from Barber after Aoife Lowe-Davies had been fouled by the home goalkeeper.
And it appeared the visitors were on course for a routine victory when soon after the restart Charlie Harrison made a good baseline carry, pulling the ball back for Tor Findlay to finish neatly.
However, with a small squad, Magpies started to tire as the second half wore on and Southgate went on to take advantage by scoring three goals to wrap up the win.
Magpies finish their pre-season programme away at Oxford Hawks this weekend.
n Harleston Magpies Men’s I warmed up for the new campaign by beating Dereham 5-3.
Debutant David Gilbert scored a hat-trick, while Mark Flatman and David Gilbert also netted.
Head coach Tim Whiteman said: “Overall it’s been a very encouraging pre-season with the players demonstrating the necessary character and commitment needed to take this team back to where it belongs.
“There’s still plenty of work needed before the league begins on the September 23, but the early signs are extremely positive.”