Belper Hockey Club’s under 18s boys’ team were looking to follow up their regional success with a good showing at The England Hockey Junior Indoor Hockey National Finals last weekend.
Belper were representing the Midlands in the U18 Boys Finals, after winning the regional qualification tournament in December.
The squad of Dom Bennett, James Casha, Ben Clague, George Collier, Alex Cox, Jacob Bullock, Charlie Falkingham (GK), Chris Handley, Toby Hooker and Alex Robey was drawn in Pool A, along with Ben Rhydding, Peterborough, Team Bath Buccaneers (TBB) and Oxted.
Pool B featured Beeston, Canterbury, Bowden, Ashmoor and Old Loughtonians.
After starting well with a 5-3 win over Northern champions, Ben Rhydding, (Robey 3, Bennett 2), the second match against City of Peterborough was a 5-5 thriller (Robey, Bullock 2, Bennett, Cox).
The day ended with TBB, having won both their games, topping the pool ahead of Belper, then Peterborough (also with a win and a draw but scoring fewer goals) and Ben Rhydding.
Day two started with Belper in the table-topping clash with the strong Bath team who, with the help of their star drag-flicker, came out 4-2 winners (Robey, Clague)
With TBB leading the pool, and Belper and Peterborough equal on points and goal difference, it came down to the results of the last pool matches (Belper v Oxted & Peterborough v Ben Rhydding) to decide who else went through to the semi finals.
Belper finished 6–2 winners against Oxted (Robey 3, Bennett 2, Clague) leaving Peterborough needing to win their match by five clear goals to progress to the semi ahead of Belper. This looked as though it would be too much to ask, until the Ben Rhydding goalkeeper incurred a two-minute suspension, during which time Peterborough took their keeper off and brought on a kicking back to play five outfield.
However, Ben Rhydding only conceded two goals during the suspension, and the final score of 6-2 to Peterborough was enough to see Belper through to the semis.
Canterbury, the clear leaders of the other pool, proved too strong for the Belper Boys in the semi-final match and went on to take the title, beating Beeston in the final.
Canterbury also won the U16 Boys competition.
The Belper Boys played some tremendous hockey against some tough opposition and the club is very proud of them.