Dilemma for Evergreens

ON Saturday Fakenham Evergreens Ladies' Hockey Club ended their best ever season by beating Briston 4-0 to end the season as Martin and Acock Premier Division champions, then faced a dilemma.

ON Saturday Fakenham Evergreens Ladies' Hockey Club ended their best ever season by beating Briston 4-0 to end the season as Martin and Acock Premier Division champions, then faced a dilemma.

That evening they gathered for celebratory meal. It was a double celebration, for not only had they shown they were a force to be reckoned with in Norfolk hockey, but they had also gone through the entire season without once tasting defeat, writes Peter Bird.

Their success has created something of a problem, however, for they are unsure if they want to accept an invitation to step up into a much tougher league next season.

The team has to play 14 miles away at Holt because of the lack of an Astro-turf pitch in Fakenham. They ended a tough campaign on 48 points with North Walsham, who lost only two games all season, snapping on their heels with 44. These two clubs were the division stars, for after them came Sprowston with 35 points and Briston with 24.

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Eighteen games, 15 wins, three draws and a 65-12 goal difference underlined a superb performance which saw Evergreens drop a total of only six points all season.

Added to that record is the statistic of only once failing to score in all 18 matches. It was in an early season away draw against Norwich Union which had followed on from a score-draw in their very first match against Watton seconds.

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“We were a new team that was still gelling together and we failed to put our chances away,” said captain Kerry Holl.

But they soon put that stuttering start behind them and once into their stride, Evergreens were unbeatable, with only one further draw all season.

And what made it all work so perfectly? “We had good players who came back from injury and maternity leave and we had excellent coaching by Dave Walton. It meant we had a mainly settled team.

“I'm proud of the enthusiasm and dedication shown by all the players,” said a delighted Holl.

She added that other factors were that everyone got on well together, both on and off the pitch, and all worked hard for each other when practising the key elements of the game that are an essential part of the training of any team wishing to succeed.

But the dilemma that has come with their success is that Evergreens have been offered a place in the much tougher East Women's League.

A decision is about to be made on whether to accept, in the knowledge that two key players are off to university and a third is emigrating.

“It means several second team members will have to step up to the first, and that is a big step up,” said Holl, who added that as the league covered all the eastern counties, membership would also increase the amount of travelling.

Several new members have joined the club this season, strengthening their ranks, but Holl said that more would be welcome to bolster their depth in strength.

“I'm also grateful to Dempsey Heating for sponsoring us. They have been generous to us.”

It is a given that all sports need money to function and sponsorship can considerably ease the burden on players who not only have to play to their limit week in and week out, but off-field also have to use their energies in an essentially amateur sport to help raise the finances without which their club cannot operate

Winning their final match not only meant they finished unbeaten but it was also a doubly sweet victory. Briston were the club that had held them to that third draw when Evergreens met them away from home in the middle of the season.

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