Having returned in August for an intensive pre-season with two brand-new pitches at their disposal, Durham University Hockey Club are looking ahead to an exciting season full of changes and competition.
This year, BUCS have altered the traditional system of play within the top two sides of the University, hoping to raise the level of competition and standard experienced by the leading University sides. The 1st and 2nd squads will now play a series of eight games each, four played at home and four away.
This new system will see both 1st squads travel the length of the country to Exeter, Bath and Bristol, whilst the women’s 2s journey to Oxford and the men’s 2s venture north to Edinburgh. As a result of the new system, DUHC will see a clustering of games whereby both the men’s 1sts and 2nds and the women’s 1sts and 2nds will compete against the same opposition on the same day, further raising the level of support at the matches.
The first of these clusters for DUHC will take place on Wednesday 20th November, with the squads hosting four home fixtures against Nottingham University.
Durham University Hockey is a highly competitive club, possessing five men’s and five women’s teams. DUHC not only participates in Wednesday BUCS competitions and cup rounds, but also chooses to be an active opposition in Saturday leagues, with the 10 teams travelling all over the north and across the UK.
Each team trains once or twice weekly, with the top squads receiving gym sessions and physiotherapy. Members within the top squads then offer up time to volunteer coaching the 3s-5s, whilst also teaching skills to the next generation in providing sessions on Sundays to the Durham Juniors. Players are also offered the opportunities to develop umpiring skills through the Team Durham umpire development program.
The club’s top teams host a variety of players, all of whom either have or currently do represent their individual nations, such as Tess Howard, a Castle Geography student and senior GB hopeful.
Other names include Izzie Howell, a second year and member of the Welsh women’s hockey side, goalkeepers Louisa Bray (pictured) and Ollie Payne for GB U23s, 1st team women’s captain Kerry-Anne Hastings for Scotland and Natalie Konnerth for USA development.
DUHC have previously claimed the title of Number One Hockey University in the UK, adding to the many titles already held by Team Durham as one of the top team sports universities in the country.
The Men’s 1sts have successfully reached the BUCS finals for the past three years, claiming gold in 2018 alongside the women’s 2s. For the season ahead and with turnouts to trials greater than positions available on teams, expectations are high.
Already the season has seen the Women’s 3s place eight shots behind Manchester University’s goal-line, the Men’s 4s defeat Newcastle University and the Women’s 5s claim an impressive victory against Sheffield Hallam in BUCS and the Women’s 2s maintain an early winning streak in their Saturday league prior to the start of their own BUCS competition.
The club once again aims to keep up its feared status on a national level, upholding their motto of possessing players and squads that are ‘reassuringly talented’ and offering hockey at the highest standard in the pursuit of many BUCS titles and top spots in league rankings.
Photograph by Durham University Hockey Club