Sleeping lion roars to lift hockey title
7:30am Thu Mar 16, 2017
Paul Halfpenny Photograph: Coemedia.
Coach Paul Halfpenny said his Newark Hockey Men’s 1st team roared like lions as they were crowned champions of the East Midlands Division One.
A 3-1 victory in their final match of the season against Atherstone Adders ensured Newark topped the table to earn a place in the East Midlands Premier Division next season.
Halfpenny said his team were focused and professional, and played like champions.
“At the start of the season I put my cards on the table and asked them to commit,” he said.
“No more silly away days — if you play for the first team, you commit to the first team.
“They have been committed and played their hearts out virtually every week.”
Halfpenny said a full squad training each week had also helped their cause.
“When I first came to Newark 12 years ago the club was a little bit disjointed and I always thought it to be a little bit of a sleeping lion,” he said.
“I told them I wanted to waken that lion at the weekend and to see it roar. They went out and played so professionally — and they did roar.”
It was Halfpenny’s first season in charge of the men’s team, having previously coached the ladies’ first team.
Halfpenny, who took over from his wife, Sally, said: “She built the squad and has been working hard for the previous three years to try to get them out of this division.
“We have been helped this season by a few faces who have returned, and some players coming up from the seconds.
“Having players who come week in week out makes being a coach so much easier — you can actually work on things that didn’t quite work in a previous match, for example.
“We were rubbish on penalty corners for large parts of the season, but now we have an iPad app that slows down the action and allows us to see the technical aspect — and we can work on that in training.
“We scored loads in the past couple of weeks from short corners because of that.”
Halfpenny said the squad had the base for further success.
There is still plenty to play for at the club this season with the ladies’ third team on the verge of being crowned champions of Notts Women’s Division Two.
The ladies’ first team won at the weekend to boost their chances of gaining promotion from the Premier Division.
They are chasing success on two fronts after reaching the final of the Notts Cup with a semi-final victory on Sunday.