Whilst Blackpool’s Football Club is on the verge of an historic promotion, the town’s hockey club has already won promotion with the Mens’ 2nd team climbing out of Division 9 of the North West Hockey League.
The similarities continue as the team has spent three years in this division after having secured promotion from division 10 in 2007, which was their first year in the league as a newly formed team due to the growing membership of Blackpool Hockey Club.
The team lost only once all season, had 4 tough draws against the other two promotion chasing sides, Bury & Leigh, and won every other game they played under the leadership of Alex Rowe to finish a close second to champions Bury.
The team scored an average of three goals every game, with a strike force that could be rotated with goals being shared about. Martin Hayes scored 12 goals to be crowned as top scorer although he was closely followed by Mitch Blakemore on 11, having only returned to the club mid-season, and travelling all the way from his navy base in Portsmouth every weekend to help out the promotion push. The other strikers contributing were the experienced Andy Mortimer with 9 goals and the younger Chris Hocking with 6.
The team contained a good blend of youth and experience, so 16yr old Ben Mortimer was able to play alongside his father Andy, and clearly grew in confidence and ability as the season progressed. This led to him scoring a vital debut goal in the important promotion six-pointer against Bury, which ended in a draw. He was later voted the most improved player in the team at the recent annual club awards as seen below collecting his trophy at the recent awards night.
Even younger was Nathan Woodman, still technically a junior, who often had to sit on the bench, but patiently awaited his chance to shine in front of older players, and scored the goal that clinched promotion at the end of the season. He subsequently won the most improved junior award at the recent awards night.
As well as a strong attack, the defence was also very strong only conceding an average of one goal per game. There was a stable backline for most of the season with vice captain Simon Allen, Craig Brookes, Phil Taylor, and goalkeeper Nick Rainbow. Nick was in impressive form all season as shown by being awarded the most Man of the Match performances (as voted by the opposition each week) and then his fellow players rewarded him by voting him as the team’s Player of the Season.
The midfield shouldn’t be forgotten, with the veteran Rob Pasqualino taking the role of the midfield general in his first year with the 2nd team, following over 20 years playing for the 1st team. His experience was valuable to captain Alex Rowe alongside him, and was able to get the best out of the younger midfield players Jay Currey and Ben Mortimer.
With other players such as Simon Thomas and Matthew Atherton being picked for 1st team games, the 2nd team is in very good health and looking forward to playing in Division 8 in September. As the club’s membership is growing, a 3rd team has been entered into Division 10 in September, and any new players would be most welcome and information can be found by clicking here.