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Harleston Magpies Men's I eager to start the new season on a positive note

After ending the coronavirus-halted 2019/20 season in good form, manager Kevin Ridley wants Harleston Magpies Men’s I to ‘aim high’ this term.

Magpies struggled during the early part of last term, losing their first five fixtures and winning just twice before the Christmas break.

Men’s Hockey League Conference East relegation looked to be on the cards, but they rallied at the turn of the year, with four victories moving them clear of danger before the season was cut short.

Tom Ridley will captain Harleston Magpies Men's I. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Tom Ridley will captain Harleston Magpies Men's I. Picture: Mark Bullimore

On Sunday they get things under way at home to West Herts (2pm) – and Ridley is hoping the team will not be looking nervously over the shoulder during the coming months.

“It was not a great start last year and we barely had any points at Christmas,” he said.

“But we got our system sorted and Richard (Gill, lead coach) did a great job.

“It was a big achievement for us to stay in the league, especially after the start we had.

“But I always believe you must aim high, otherwise there is no point in playing each week.

“We don’t want to be saying we just want to stay in the league. Of course we do, but we are aiming to move on as well.

“They’ll be plenty of big tests but we showed in the second half of last season we can match these teams.

“It will help if we can get some points in the bag early this time.”

There has not been a large amount of incomings during the summer, but there has been one notable addition in Carl Sitch.

As reported in last week’s Express , the former Magpies youngster and England youth international has returned to the club after several seasons away playing for Teddington.

And Ridley believes Sitch will have a key role to play within the squad.

“We’ve lost a couple of players to university, but having Carl back is a big plus,” he added.

“He was with us as a youth player, so knows the club very well, and he has played National League for several years.

“He is the right age and has the right amount of experience to be a major asset for us.”

Magpies will also continue to delve into their impressive youth system for players this season.

Certain youngsters made big impressions last year, and with that experience under their belts, Ridley is anticipate even more this time around.

“The youngsters are going to be another year older and another year stronger,” he said.

“Sam Wash and Ed Bryce did really well when given the chance and we are hoping they can push on this season.

“They’ve had a year of experiencing what it is like being in and around the first team, and they’ve trained well during the summer. There may also be others that get the chance this season.”

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