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    Features - 10/05/2008

    By Kriss Leslie

    1st XI Captains Report

    For those of you who didnít attend this years AGM, here is the 1st XI Captains report.

    The 2007/08 season has saw considerable improvements in the performances of the 1st XI throughout the course of the year. Even though squad numbers have unfortunately yet again dwindled, an issue that will have to be addressed over the summer break, those who have remained patient are beginning to see that one can play competitive senior league hockey at East Antrim Hockey Club. Yes, results may not always reflect our improvements during the season, but the signs are definitely there, and it wont be long until results start going our way.

    Our last few games of the season are perfect examples of how we have came a long way since the start of the season. The Omagh, Ballymena and Armagh games showed that we have improved considerably and are no longer a team which is there to make up the numbers and give the opposition an easy three points. We definitely were unlucky not to get something from the Omagh game in a 2-1 defeat in which Omaghís two goals came hugely against the run of play inside the first few minutes of the second half. Also, the Ballymena game which ended up in a 1-0 defeat was a game in which either team couldíve walked away with the three points, a stark comparison to Ballymenaís 7-2 rout of ourselves at the start of the season. The last game of the season was against Armagh, a team who have defeated us and many other teams by letís just say comprehensive score lines! However, again we showed signs of improvement in a 6-0 defeat, where four of Armaghís goals came from short corners and we actually limited them to very few clear-cut chances.

    The main aim for a club like ourselves, struggling in the lower echelons of Senior 2 and low on numbers, is to firstly make ourselves a hard team to defeat. We canít expect to jump from a team which is being defeated by large score lines every week, to a team which is challenging for the league title overnight. We must become a competitive unit, which when teams play against us they know they are in for a tough game, a game in which they will have to earn a victory. The tighter we make games, the more chance there is of ourselves picking up points via draws or narrow wins. Itís not rocket science, but we must be patient and realise that we have to create a steady platform before we move onto winning games flamboyantly.

    As I have already mentioned, we are making great strides towards becoming a more competitive side. However, there are many things which we can still improve upon to help us become a team who can compete on a more regular basis. The encouraging thing is though that these are simple things, such as getting a good pre-season under our belts, attending training on a Tuesday night, checking the website on a regular basis and confirming availability for matches as soon as possible.

    An effective pre-season and attending training are the most important things of those listed above. If we want to be able to grind games out and become competitive, we must have the fitness levels to do so. Our poor fitness certainly didnít do us any favours last season, and thereís no better time to make a determined decision that we will whip ourselves into shape for next season. Good attendances to pre-season training, and to normal training, during the course of next season will ensure we do just that. Not forgetting of course that Tuesday night training also helps us develop our individual skills and tactics.

    I am very pleased at our recent signs of improvement, but if we really want to get this club back to where it should be, each individual will have to take personal responsibility and actually attend training or confirm availability for matches as soon as possible.

    In conclusion, we are definitely moving in the right direction. Now that yet another season is over, we now have the chance to consolidate on our improvements over the summer ahead of next season. I believe that next year, providing each individual puts in a determined effort before and throughout next season, East Antrim can definitely begin to move up the table and become a mid-table side. We have shown we can compete with such teams, why not start challenging them in terms of league positions?