Looking forward: an important year for UEL Hockey

As we enter 2018, University of East London men’s hockey team are in arms reach of grabbing the top spot but only have two games remaining to make it possible.

The penultimate home game against third -placed Queen Mary’s 3rds is set to take place on the 7th February, then in the following two weeks the final match against University College London will see an early end for the 2017/18 season.

League breakdown            

After suffering relegation last year, University of East London have set their goals of promotion from the beginning, recruiting new first-year players and building a stronger team to win their league. The BUCS North East Tier 5 consists of four teams overall. Top of the table league leaders are City University London, undefeated champions so far they have won the most games this season, three wins and drawing one.

They have a total of 10 points, just below them in second place falls UEL themselves. UEL remained undefeated up until the last game of the season when they were defeated 9-0 by City. However, they have five points all together from one win and two draws.

The bottom half of the table sees Queen Mary 3rds winning one, drawing one and losing one. Last place is University College London 6th with a total of three losses all season. With how the season has panned out so far, UEL have a very high chance of securing their hoped-for promotion.

A Royal threat

Queen Mary are UEL’s biggest threat, slowing creeping up behind UEL. With now only one point between them, UEL cannot afford to lose their next match and have their position compromised. Although hoping for the top spot, UEL need to focus all their attention on securing second place instead. They have done so well this season winning one, drawing two and losing only one, it would be a real disappointment if they fell at the last hurdle.

Stronger than ever

The team are pumped for the New Year and cannot wait to get back out on the field. UEL are the strongest they have been in the past few years. Mid-November’s match against UCL rewarded UEL with their first win in nearly two years. The team are using the upcoming weeks before the game to put all their efforts into training. Some of the team played with Bury St Edmunds over the Christmas break to keep their performance on top.

New Year, new recruits

Captain of the team Isaac Charles said about the upcoming action “the boys and I are keen to look forward to see what 2018 brings, we are hoping to recruit as many as we can, and to build and improve the team while maintaining our social aspect within the club setting.” The team are searching for new recruits to build a stronger team. Charles said the new recruits are needed to help the depth in the squad to counter for the losses that keep happening through the campaign.

The team consists of 17 players in total. The playing standards vary. The majority of players are third and second year students that have been in the team a few years running. This makes the team’s connection and communication strong and compatible. When the new season commenced earlier this year the team tried hard to gather up as many new recruits as possible to build a bigger team and to keep the club running, to offset the loss of graduates. .

No helping hand

It was tricky at the start for the recruitment to build up. Promotion of the sport needed boosting and this was achieved during fresher’s week. Never the less, promotion and exposure would have benefitted further if the team had a management figure or a greater committee group.

Having no manager or coach figure hasn’t affected the team to that much of an extent that it’s reflecting on their play or performance but I believe if a management representative for the team was present, it would reduce some pressure on the team and make it easier overall.

Captain Charles said that the team do find it difficult but the key members of the team (Josh Gwilliam, Elliot Taylor) who have had a lot of experience in hockey and other sports therefore they can give their perspective and help on the tactical side: “Myself Robert Clover and Tim Li help out with the technical side, to help us progress”. This year the team have focused on their game play rather than fitness and closed skills, and “this has helped us all develop as a team and build partnerships in our positions”.

“As the captain I feel as though most of the pressure is on my shoulders, especially as our vice-captain Grant has had to step away from sport on medical grounds, I feel as though new vice-captain, Elliot Taylor, will help bring a new balance within the team, and help solidify our capable but wobbly defence”.