Durham University’s men’s hockey team is celebrating after being promoted to the Premier League for the first time in its history.
England Hockey suspended all matches from Tuesday 17 March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, at which point Durham were two points clear at the top of Division One (North) with one match remaining.
Now the sport’s governing body has confirmed the standings when the league stopped will be their final standings, meaning Durham are promoted to the Premier League as champions.
Durham are promoted to the Premier League as champions
Head coach Gareth Taylor-Weaver said: “This is a fantastic achievement from a truly exceptional group of people. My special thanks goes to all the players; but not forgetting the coaches, the club committee, support staff and all volunteers who have all helped these players fulfil their potential.
“The end of this remarkable season did not conclude how anyone would have liked and in these unprecedented times we hope the whole of the hockey family is staying safe – we truly look forward to seeing many of you on a pitch in due course.”
Club captain Barney Wilkinson, who is studying for an MSc in Finance, added: “Although this may not have been how we imagined being promoted to the Premier League, it doesn’t detract from what has been an incredible and hugely successful year and a season I will never forget. I’ve spent four years playing with my best mates and to finally achieve this is a great note on which to end.”
“To be the first Durham University Hockey Club side promoted to the premiership is a very special thing to do,” said Ollie Payne, Durham’s goalkeeper and a part of the Great Britain Elite Development Programme.
“All the players and coaching staff have put in an awful lot of time and effort into this season and to be rewarded with promotion makes it all worthwhile.”
The 2020/21 season is due to begin on September 26, though England Hockey is also planning for different scenarios should that not be possible.