Harleston Magpies first team ready for life in the Men’s Conference East
Team manager Kevin Ridley has conceded his Harleston Magpies Men’s I side will need to be prepared for the fact that they will have ‘no easy games’ in 2019/20.
Magpies secured themselves promotion last term and subsequently a place in the England Hockey League Men’s Conference East for the upcoming campaign, which gets under way on Sunday with a home encounter against their Wapping counterparts (2pm).
They are joined in the league by a host of big names, and as such, survival is the number one target.
Ridley said: “We are still buzzing from last year and everyone is excited by the league we are now in.
“All of the games are going to be tough – there are no easy games any more.
“We have got to try to stay in the league because that helps with everything. Players want to join you at this level and the younger players are interested because they want to play at the highest standard.
“Like our Ladies’ side, it is essential we stay up. It will be difficult because we are up against teams with big catchment areas like London.
“A lot of students play hockey there and they are a good age to be playing this standard.
“But we also have a very good squad and it would be great to get off to a good start against Wapping.
“They could well be one of the top teams this season so if we can get the better of them that will give us a real confidence boost.”
Working alongside Ridley this season will be Richard Gill, who has taken up the role of coach after Tim Whiteman was forced to step down due to the side effects of the concussion he suffered in the final game of last season.
And Ridley is confident that Gill, who has previously played for Magpies, can continue the good work started by the former Great Britain international.
“Richard is keen to carry on Tim’s hard work from the last couple of years,” added Ridley.
“He will be on the sidelines rather than playing so he can oversee things and identify where any problems are.
“A lot of work has gone in over the summer from Richard and the team – we are ready to go.”