Halifax win title in style

Top of the pile: Halifax after yesterday's success
Top of the pile: Halifax after yesterday's success

Halifax Hockey Club’s men clinched the Yorkshire One title in style on Saturday with a 10-1 demolition of visitors Doncaster.

It caps a superb recovery from the Exley-based side who will be playing in the Yorkshire Premier League next season.

Halifax were forced to take a two-division drop from that section to rebuild two years ago and coach Paul Graham admitted their return was a surprise.

“Two league wins in two years was a bit quicker than anticipated,” he said..

“A lot of credit must go to Leigh Walker (manager) and Matthew Graham (captain) for changing the attitude of players which was at a low ebb two years ago when we lost four of five senior players.

“The players have worked hard on their fitness and willingness to play as a team and as a young group, they have improved considerably.”

Graham senior said it would be tough next season as they would be losing two good players - Henry Shelton, who will be out of the area, and Matthew Bairstow, who is leaving to play at a higher standard with Ben Rhydding.

Graham added: “We only have a small squad and rely on juniors coming through from the academy. Unlike other clubs we have no university or schools to provide players.

“Sam Spencer, Cameron Hellowell, Kristian Mayland and Casey Marshall are young players who will hopefully be pushing for a place in the first team next season.”

Halifax have stuttered recently and seen a big lead at the top of the table disappear but they had no worries on Saturday thanks to a stunning hat-trick from Matthew Graham in the first 10 minutes.

Walker, Josh Foreman and ‘keeper Matthew Metcalfe were rarely under pressure and Shelton spread the play from the centre half position beautifully. Josh Barron used his pace and skill to get forward from right back and provide good ball for Michael Jones on the right wing.

Josh Sutcliffe made it 4-0 before half time with a clever lob over the diving keeper.

The target at the half time was to get nine goals and take the team’s seasonal total to 100.

Graham struck his fourth and Sutcliffe made it 6-0 with his second before Doncaster replied on the break.

Jones got Halifax back on track with two thunderous strikes from penalty corners and Jake Bamforth made it 9-1 with his 21st of the season.

It was fitting that player-of-the-season Graham got the final goal - his 30th of the campaign - with another powerful run and strike.

New player Gabe Coleman has been an invaluable addition to the squad with his fitness and work ethic while Josh Barron is the most improved player.