L&C ladies’ remarkable rise to glory

L&C 1sts ladies' captain Sarah King
L&C 1sts ladies' captain Sarah King
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At the start of 2012, Leyland and Chorley Hockey Club’s ladies were on the verge of folding.

After two consecutive demotions into Division Two, and with just seven players remaining, things looked bleak. But, with the help of a new coach Rob Alty, the club managed to turn things around.

Leyland & Chorley coach Rob Alty

Leyland & Chorley coach Rob Alty

In the summer of 2012, Alty, supported by the remaining players, ran a number of successful ‘Back to Hockey” sessions and the club attracted at least 20 potential new players.

After the success of the sessions, in the 2012/13 season, the ladies’ 1st team finished third in the league, but Alty and the club were not finished there. With numbers still rising, the decision was taken to enter a second team for 2013/14.

And in 2013/14, L&C ladies’ 1st team were unbeaten in all 16 Division Two league games, scoring 94 goals, conceding only five and finishing a massive 14 points clear at the top.

Meanwhile, the newly-formed ladies’ 2nds finished third in Division Three in their first year, narrowly missing out on promotion.

The 2014/15 campaign saw another successful season for the ladies’ 1sts – they were unbeaten in 15 of the 16 league matches, scoring 74 goals and conceding only 10 as they finished five points clear at the top to secure promotion.

The ladies’ 2nd team finished fourth and the club continued to see the number of ladies attending training rise.

And so, in the summer of 2015, just two seasons after entering a 2nd team, and just four seasons after having only seven ladies in the club, a third team was set up.

In the 2015/16 season, the ladies’ 1sts, after being newly promoted, made club history and won the Premier Division.

They were unbeaten in all 18 league matches, scoring 82 goals and conceding only 14 and finished six points clear at the top.

Not to be outshone, the ladies’ 2nd team secured promotion with three games still left to play.

The ladies’ 3rd team, in their first season, not only managed to field a full team each week, they finished seventh in the league.

Six of the L&C juniors are currently playing for Lancashire – Robyn Briggs, Abi Birbeck, Reece Hilton, Daniel Hilton, Ryan Farnam and Josh Smith. And Eluned Smith, who plays for the 1sts, has recently been selected for the North England squad.

Ladies’ 1st team captain Sarah King said: “Everyone has the same positive and supportive mind-set, which means the club feels very welcoming to any new players regardless of age or ability.

“We have close to 50 players now and will be running the ‘Back to Hockey’ sessions again this year on Saturdays throughout May and June, so please come down.”