Back row: B Reeves, W Dry, H Taylor, A Copestake, N Francis, T Morrison, M Lilley, C Magowan, N Leach, J. Shaw (Coach)
Front row: J Dannatt, W Mooney, A Fanthorpe, R Kavanagh, A Oxburgh, D Jones, J Buckeridge, G Oyebode
End of Season Report 2015/16
This season has been an extremely challenging one for the Men’s Blues. The squad this year was made almost entirely of new faces compared to the previous year with only four returning blues from the 2014/15 season. As such the team entered the year with a lot of roles to fill.
Preseason was spent as much getting acclimatised with one another as it was introducing the new players to the standard of hockey expected in the Blues. We faced tough opposition early on from Bristol, Nottingham and Nottingham Trent which reinforced the bonds we’d made during training. It was in these tough fixtures that the players who’d moved up from the O’s or joined the team as freshers proved they were capable of playing at the level required. As a result despite very little match experience with each other we entered the season with some confidence.
The first half of the season in the Saturday league went well the team gained invaluable wins early on. The possession style of hockey played by opposing teams was efficiently dealt with ensuring the blues were in a good position by Christmas. Highlights included a hard fought match against Banbury and a high scoring victory away at Henley. However the Blue’s where unable to transfer this success to Wednesdays against hard working uni sides. Though an impressive 4-2 win in the second match against Bristol left the team just 2 points behind at the Christmas break on Wednesdays with two matches to go.
In the second half of the season the Blues started strong securing a dominating win over Cardiff Met and this continued in the Saturday league were the Blues went undefeated in their first two games. However a crushing defeat at home to Exeter left the team tied on points with Bristol, in what would be the turning point of our season. Due to previous results the Blues were in the relegation zone. Following this loss the team proceeded to lose eight games straight in what was the build up to Varsity. This wasn’t the ideal preparation and left relegation a real possibility on Saturdays. Though there were some valiant performances, most impressive was the eleven man performance away against a strong Durham side. Where the team managed to hold Durham to one goal until five minutes to go. The grittiness of this performance meant that despite the poor run of results the blues headed into Varsity optimistic.
Cambridge opened the scoring in the Varsity match however the Blues weathered the early storm and by half time had drawn level and felt on top. Early into the second half however Cambridge scored on a well worked short corner. The final straw for the Blues came when a key player was given a ten minute yellow. This irreversibly put the team on the back foot and sadly saw Cambridge through in a very close affair.
There was however no time to lick wounds as the Blues had real concerns in both leagues. A win against Spencer who finished third overall in the Saturday league showed the Blues had the ability to beat any team they faced. However lack of consistency in the final few games lead to the Blues being relegated. This was disappointingly followed by relegation in the BUCS league following a very tight playoff against Reading.
Despite the results this year not going the way we would’ve liked, the team showed the class and ability to match any opposition. This year was always going to be difficult given the amount of players that were lost and it was just lapses in concentration which outweighed the moments of brilliance that cost the team. Looking forward to next year we are in an ideal position to push for double promotion with only 4 blues from this year leaving us. This is a young squad with plenty of room to grow as a unit and find a true identity. It is an exciting time to be a member of the blues with lots of key roles being left vacant for new players to step in and compete for. There is already a lot which John can build upon in the coming year and will undoubtedly continue to do an excellent job coaching us. Thanks are due to Joseph Mills for being such a leader at the back this year and for setting such a great example to the club. Furthermore I thank Richie Barlow for his invaluable help in training this year when John wasn't around. I would also like to wish Thomas Claughton well for the coming year and look forward to him returning after his year abroad. Finally and most importantly thanks go to Joseph Foster who has captained the team superbly this year. I cannot say enough good things about how he has lead the team both on and off the field. Encouraging us to grow as hockey players on the pitch as well as fostering a welcoming environment off the pitch which has lead to such a closely knit team.
OUHC New Player Form
South Division 2 (Saturday League )
BUCS South Prem