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Family-orientated Diss Ladies I secure promotion to the Empresa Norfolk Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Following some recent near misses, Diss Ladies I are basking in the glory of having secured promotion back to the Empresa Norfolk Women’s Hockey League Premier Division.

After a couple of stints in the top flight in 2009/10 and 2011/12, Diss have spent the past seven years within the Division One set-up.

They have finished in the top five on each occasion since their most recent relegation – mounting some promotion challenges along the way – but it was not to be until this term’s success was confirmed with a 3-0 win over Watton Ladies II on Saturday thanks to goals from Nicki Day, Sam Howard and Lucy Woods.

Diss Ladies I celebrate promotion (8083232)
Diss Ladies I celebrate promotion (8083232)

That ensured Diss first place and the title, finishing two points ahead of nearest challengers Reepham Ladies I in second.

Asked what had been the secret behind the triumph, team manager Lindsay Cates pointed to the togetherness that exists within the squad.

“It was a bit touch and go towards the end because while we won a lot of games early on, we drew some matches that allowed the others to cut the gap,” she said.

“It was a very tense last game and we had a couple of players missing through injury, so it was great to get the job done.

“The key has been consistency. We have a lot of family links within the squad. Mothers, daughters and sisters all play – for example my two daughters play.

“It has helped us to get players on board and everyone knows each other, which means we have each other’s backs.”

Diss’ last two assaults on the Premier Division have lasted for just one season, with the team unable to fight off the threat of relegation.

However, long-serving Cates is hopeful that if they can keep the squad together and potentially add one or two more players, things could be different in 2019/20.

“This time I think we will be better prepared for it,” she added.

“We lost some key players the last time we went up but hopefully that does not happen this time.

“We had a great goalscorer this year. She got 28 goals and only played half a season after she fell pregnant, but there was still another 60 goals scored by the rest of the team.

“That shows we can share the goals around and that is a big plus for playing at a higher level.”

As well as having one of the league’s highest goalscorers, Diss also had the best defensive record with goalkeeper Gemma Burton keeping 12 clean sheets and only letting in 19 goals.

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