With 5 games left to go it’s perhaps a little too early to reflect on our performance this season. If we win all of those games we will almost certainly be in a top 5 position, of what is an extremely difficult and competitive league. Since Christmas we have had extremely competitive games against Canterbury and Westcombe Park who are both fighting off relegation, at the same time we have been very close to beating both Jersey and Richmond, in fact could even should have won both games.
I know the coaching team are very pleased with the progress of the squad so far. All teams have to deal with injuries through the season, that’s why we need a strong squad, but in the last few weeks we have been dealt a particularly difficult hand in that regard – missing the likes of Matt Payne, Dave Clements, Ali James, Jack Shaylor and Andy Dalgleish for long periods would make it tough for any team in this league, that is why last Saturday’s win at Dings Crusaders is particularly pleasing. Seeing the team progress to that level with some of our younger players stepping up to fill those ‘big’ player roles, and seeing others take on the mantle of leaders within the team is what takes you up to the next level of performance, so it is particularly pleasing when that happens.
I’m not a great on for comparing data on wins/losses etc. I think you can judge performance better by setting targets and achieving them going forward not by looking back. However, for those of you who are interested, compared to this time last year we are now: played 25 games, 15 wins, one draw, 13 try bonus points and 79 points overall, last year we were played 22, won 7, drawn 1, 3 try bonus points and 35 points overall.
I talked in my programme notes at the start of the season about the growth of our own coaches from within the club, and I still firmly believe that this is a fundamental cornerstone to our success in the past and our continuing success in the future. Seeing the group of young coaches emerging from our ranks of former players, including Steve and Pete of course, but also Nick Darke and Tim Barlow under Andy Jones leadership with the 2’s, Morts and Ric with the Women’s team and Mark Venner with the colts means we have a consistency of thought about what we are trying to achieve at the Hawks, it’s a huge bonus for the club that we have this and I want to thank all these guys for the massive time and effort that they put in to it.
Andy Jones has written elsewhere about the importance of pulling the Wanderers and the Hawks back together, which we did at the start of last year. I totally agree with him and it’s great to see so many players from the Hawks 2’s stepping up and playing significant roles with the 1st team, also so many of the former Wanderers now featuring with the Hawks. Being coach in charge of the 2nd’s is probably the most difficult job on the playing side of the club (ask Barnesy from last year!) Andy has done a great job for us there, following on from Steve and Nigel last year, not easy and I’m sure all the lads who have been involved will want to join with me to recognise what Andy has put in.
One sad note on that front is that the first guy to make it through from Wanderers to Hawks was Alex Dupee, unfortunately after a number of concussions and his long term health and career to think about, Dupes has had to retire from the game as a player. We all want thank him for his contribution over the years and hope that you will stay involved in some way, maybe on the coaching front.
With all that said about the 1sts and 2nds, the Team of Year so far has to be our 3rd’s. Being promoted last year up to the BBO premier probably meant a season of consolidation, especially as they have not really had a coach all season. Not at all, the boys have stormed to the top of the league with great wins over the last couple of weeks over both Witney and Redingensians, they are now odds on to win the league, and it will be a big and well deserved celebration when that is confirmed. Well one to Darky and everyone involved. Also well done to Robbie Crichton and the 4ths again promoted into a higher league and holding their own nicely. Poised for a push up the leagues next year?
Finally great to see so many guys at the HOPIT Saturday lunch and match versus Newbury, we had some fun watching some of the old match videos from successful promotion seasons of yesteryear. Also great to see some of our old ‘management’ joining us – Noel North, Peter Allen and Ray Jones to mention only 3, the club simply would not be where it is today without guys like that. Great to see you all and more to come on the HOPIT front later.
Hope everyone involved has a great final month of the season, and looking forward to seeing as many as possible at either the Sportsman’s Dinner 6th May or the Playing Awards dinner 7th May. If you have enough stamina – both!
Go The Hawks
Chairman of Playing
Member since: 9th July 2012
Hi, We are Phil and Gill Chappell. We own the Best of Henley-on-Thames. We live in Henley so would love to hear your views and opinions about all things Henley.