Sheffield Hallam men’s hockey side have finally made it to the promised land of the Premier Division - but Phil Roper insists that the hard work won’t stop there.
Hallam and Wimbledon were the two most successful teams at the end-of-season Play-Offs, and will play Premier Division hockey next term.
After beating Southgate 3-0 in their opening game and drawing 4-4 with Cardiff & UWIC, Hallam went into their clash against Wimbledon knowing that anything better than a five-goal loss would seal their promotion.
They went down 2-1, to a star-studded side that included current GB & England international Richard Alexander and ex-GB & England striker Mike Hawes.
But finally, after three successive second-placed finishes in the North Conference, they have reached the big time.
“It wasn’t quite the result we wanted against Wimbledon, but given the result of the other game we knew that we were almost there,” Roper, who scored all four of Hallam’s goals against Cardiff & UWIC, said.
“It’s fantastic to get to play in the Premier Division next season.
“Our ambitions as a club are big over the next four or five years.
“We’ve worked really hard to get to where we are and we can’t wait to play the top teams next season.”
Hallam vice-president Andy Pettigrew paid tribute to coach Vicky Joel, who took over at the start of the season from previous coach Gareth Tyler.
“Credit must go to Vicky, who is one of the few women coaches in the Men’s Hockey League,” he said.
“She has built upon the good foundations laid by Gareth.
“A lot of work will have to take place before we set foot on a hockey pitch in September. We have to ensure that finances are in place, and that the structure of the club is ready.”
Sheffield Hallam women’s second team, meanwhile, narrowly failed to add some silverware of their own last weekend.
Hallam went down 3-2 against Leeds in the final of the Yorkshire Hockey Association Women’s Yorkshire Cup, after an extra-time golden goal.
Hallam took the lead through player-of-the-match Rachel Haines in the tenth minute, but Charlotte Martin equalised five minutes later for Leeds.
Verity Hartil put Leeds ahead, but Hallam forced extra time when Vikki Lawrence cracked home.
Hallam’s hearts were broken three minutes from time, however, when a shot deflected off two players and rolled agonisingly over the line.
Team: Jenny Newton (GK), Jemima Board, Elaine Livera, Katy Lee, Nicki Best (Capt), Abbe Hobson, Alice Cundy, Vikki Lawrence, Angie Bowsley, Natalie Wright, Rachel Haines, Amy Slack, Ruby Barham, Jen Jennings, Gina Lacey, Sarah Gauntlett.