Collective effort behind return to Premier Division

GOING UP: Harleston Magpies II
GOING UP: Harleston Magpies II

After two seasons of disappointment and near misses, Harleston Magpies Ladies’ II now have plenty to celebrate.

The seconds managed to amass just four victories during their 2015/16 campaign and were subsequently relegated from the East Women’s League Premier Division.

And their hopes of sealing an immediate return were scuppered last term by a fourth-placed finish in Division 1N.

However, they have bounced back in style this time around, winning all 16 of their matches to date to seal promotion and the title — with six games to spare.

Laura Tibbenham has captained the team to glory and she puts much of the success down to a collective effort.

“You could not say going this long unbeaten was a big target, but we were aiming for promotion,” said the skipper, who has scored 13 goals this term.

“We came down a couple of years ago and missed out on promotion last season, but that was about rebuilding.

“We lost some players to university and had some good youngsters come through.

“There is a really good team morale. Everyone works hard and there is real competition for places — it pushes everyone on because nobody is certain to play.

“We are a super competitive team that plays for each other. There have been over 15 different players score for us this season and that shows we do not rely on one or two players.

“We are really delighted to have got promoted and hopefully we can finish the season strongly.”

The team’s last campaign as a Premier Division outfit was a tough one.

Fourteen defeats were inflicted, leaving Magpies third-from-bottom and 11 points adrift of safety come the end of the year.

But looking ahead to next year, Tibbenham believes the squad is much better equipped to compete with some of the East Women’s League’s strongest squads.

“We are more than capable of performing at that level,” she added.

“We might lose some players to university, which is normal, but we have built a strong squad.

“The promotion has pushed us up to the highest level of hockey in the area and that is bound to attract players, but there are also plenty of young players at the club pushing for places.

“It is a really exciting time for the team.”

The seconds, who beat Newmarket I 3-0 last time out, host UEA I tomorrow (3.30pm).

‘News from the Nest’ round-up - page 47