Chichester hockey heroes look back on a year to cherish

Chichester Hockey Club players and supporters at Lee Valley for the cup final / Picture RSK Ghowry
Chichester Hockey Club players and supporters at Lee Valley for the cup final / Picture RSK Ghowry

As Chichester’s men’s first team start their Christmas break, the club can look back on a momentous year, writes club chairman Simon Pierce. On the field the men attained the club’s playing high point, reaching the hockey equivalent of the FA Cup final, playing at the Lee Valley Olympic Hockey Stadium and losing bravely to Premier League side Beeston.

This followed important success in the East Conference relegation play-offs maintaining the club’s presence in National League for the new season.

Off the field the club amicably split from Chichester Priory Park Cricket Club, combining this with a move from their old but much-loved clubhouse in Priory Park, their joint home for more than 100 years.

Chichester Hockey Club are now based at The Pavilion at Chichester College, who have proved wonderfully hospitable hosts.

The windfall from GB’s Rio heroics manifested itself in some 30 new members, mostly juniors, and at the end of August they were lucky enough to welcome Olympic gold medallists Sophie Bray and Kirsty MacKay, who ran a coaching session for some 150 juniors.

They presented the club with a GB Shirt signed by all the GB gold-medal-winning team which has pride of place on the wall of the new clubhouse.

The club followed this with the formal opening of the new clubhouse with a busy club day to kick off the new season.

Between September and April, Chichester Hockey Club run 13 league sides on Saturdays and more on Sundays as well as a full coaching programme for all who want it. They are about hockey excellence, youth development and fun. Anyone is welcome to join them.

Brighton 2nds 1 Chichester Ladies 4

The mighty Whites won a game which was crucial to their chances of winning the league.

Chichester started well with solid defending from Sally Bradley and Natty Halliday. Chichester worked well in the midfield with Amy Chaplin, Verena Sambel, Patty Hyla and Meg Goring all getting time on the ball to drive it forward towards Charlotte Cox and Lottie Greenlees.

Brighton produced great teamwork and scored a goal in the first half. This unsettled Chichester and they had to refocus.

Meg Hattemore and Cita Haines showed terrific form, determined to win the ball with each tackle.

Rejuvenated by Steph Kalber’s half-time sweets, Chichester were determined to fight back. Solid work from Haines and Sambel meant Chichester levelled through Sambel.

A penalty flick gave Chichester another chance to score. Polish international Hyla stepped up and showed just how brilliant she was with another goal for Chichester.

Jess Gleeson and Demelza Peake showed their worth and brilliant runs from Miriam Sparshott meant Chichester could break and score more goals.

After further goals from Healey and Haines, the full-time whistle signalled a superb day’s work by Chi.

Chichester Ladies 2nds 3 Crowborough 1

Chichester welcomed Crowborough, who were a place above them in the league, and came out guns blazing to take control from the first whistle.

Passing was good and there was a freshness about Chi’s passing.

The visitors went 1-0 up from a penalty corner but Chichester, with great zeal and slick passing, were level within a minute through Rachel Trent with her eighth of the season.

Chichester commanded the match with Maddy Wright, Sarah Pack and Sarah Jessop each contributing to a great first-half performance.

Jessop put Chi ahead after she was found by a pass from Trent across the circle.

The game was end-to-end with both teams battling for possession of the ball but more often than not Chi came out on top.

This was reflected when, from a penalty corner, Harriet Gray pushed the ball through the narrowest of margins between the post, a defender and the keeper for her first goal to give Chi a 3-1 lead.

In the second period it was much the same but Chichester were unable to capitalise on their goal tally. They worked hard to keep Crowborough out at the other end.

It was a much tighter second half and Chi’s passing was the key to this victory.

This week brings the last game before the Christmas break at home to Honeybees.

Chichester: Amber Kelly, Tracy Austin, Cheryl Parrott Charlotte Stemp, Harriet Gray, Sarah Pack, Sarah Jessop, Rachel Trent, Alex Hurd, Charlotte Binning, Maddy Wright, Nat Spencer.

South Downs Ladies 1 Chichester Ladies 3rds 2

It was an early start for Chichester for their away game at South Downs. They were strong from the start and passed the ball around well.

South Downs were a defensive team but that didn’t stop Katie Rose smashing a goal past the keeper after a well-timed pass from Kayleigh Carter.

South Downs hit back and slipped a goal past Chichester goalie Charlotte O’Callaghan.

Chichester held it together and after being awarded a short corner, Katie Rose secured her second of the game, bringing the final score to 2-1.

This was a third consecutive win for Chichester, who are sixth in the table as they approach the Christmas break.

Chichester: B Stemp, K Carter, E Cruttenden, C O’Callaghan, M Maddison, K Rose, M Burley, C Eddis, E Bennison, E Tyler, K Hanaway, M Young, L Sodden-Bridger.

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