Harleston Magpies enter new England Hockey season with a ‘clean slate’ according to captain Tom Ridley
Harleston Magpies enter the new season in the England Hockey League Men’s Conference Midlands under new management and with a ‘clean slate’, according to captain Tom Ridley.
In a summer of ‘challenging but exciting changes’ the man now at the helm is Josh Peterson – formerly of Cambridge City – and he comes into the Magpies with no connection to the club, which Ridley deems a positive.
“Previously, we’ve always had someone who either used to play or has been a senior member at the club for a while, but this season we’ve got a brand new coach who can come in with a clean slate as he’s never met anyone at the club before.
“A few players who haven’t been looked at before have a fresh motivation to impress the new coach. We’re fortunate we’ve had a big squad who are all fighting for places and a few missed out last season, but this year they’ll give it an extra go because there’s someone fresh and a new pair of eyes.”
The Magpies Men’s I finished in fifth place last season but were only five points off the top three and, like most clubs, Harleston have seen players leave due to university and work commitments.
However, Ridley stated that maintaining the core leadership group around the club was big positive from their summer business, which includes retaining experienced vice captain Ben Gowing.
But in what has been a refreshing few months for the Magpies, moods were dampened after club legend Carl Stitch suffered a serious accident at work, which has side-lined him for the whole season and potentially further. Ridley described him as ‘one of the biggest losses’.
“The coach has put a nice new spin on things. We were happy with the formation we had last year but there were tweaks that we needed to make,” said Ridley.
We had a lot of video analysis that was looked upon over the summer and we’ve found areas to work on. Josh (Peterson) has been a key member in looking at different things to work out how best to play.”
Harleston Magpies get their 2023/24 season under way on Sunday at home to Stourport – who are new to the division (1.30pm).
On Sunday’s opposition, Ridley said: “We’ve done some research. I think short corners are their main trick and they’ve got a few quick midfielders who like to get the ball on their turn and beat players with their pace rather than their skill.
“We hope to hit the ground running.”
The curtain raises on the women’s new campaign tomorrow, when they travel to Canterbury in the Vitality Women’s Division One South (1.15pm).
They will be hoping to improve on their eighth place finish in the league, last time out.
The division welcomes Holcombe, Southgate, Surbiton and Team Bath Buccaneers.