09:00AM, Thursday 11 April 2019
After more than five months setting the pace in the Middx, Berks, Bucks and Oxon Regional Division 1, Maidenhead Hockey Club men’s 1sts wrapped up the title on Saturday with a 1-0 victory in their 'winner takes all' game against Oxford OBU.
Matthew Heller’s goal was enough to give the Berkshire side the title against OBU – with both sides knowing before push-back that the winner would be crowned champions.
Maidenhead have led the way since November 17, and they made sure those many months at the top did not go to waste as they finished the campaign with a flourish.
“It was tense,” said Maidenhead captain Chris Brown.
“I think that was because of what was riding on it.
“It was immensely competitive and fully of high quality, although it was probably tenser than we wanted it to be but it was fantastic to get the win.”
Having previously come close to securing promotion, only to stumble at the finish line, this season's achievements mean an awful lot to Brown and his players.
More than simply winning the title and promotion it has shown the spirit, strength and character of the club.
“The squad was jubilant – it was brilliant,” added Brown.
“In the past seasons we have come so close and just missed out so it’s been a culmination of our hard work and effort over the last few years.
“We’ve learnt our lessons from previous results but we haven’t done anything drastically differently but we just kept learning and getting better.”
Maidenhead will look back to their strong start to the season as the catalyst for the title win – the side remained unbeaten until February and refused to allow their heads to drop after a few disappointing results.
“We knew over the course of the season that results might not go our way,” said Brown.
“But a dip in form doesn’t make you a bad side overnight. You just have to have a cool head and step back from it.”
The Men’s 1sts will now look forward to playing in the South Division Premier 2 next season, with the Ladies 1sts currently plying their trade in South Division Premier 1.
There was more good news for the hockey club as the Men’s 2nds and 3rds both avoided relegation.
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