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Sudbury Ladies I have club history in their sights as they bid for place in National League on return to East Hockey League action




A year on from achieving promotion, Sudbury Ladies I’s squad have club history in their sights – after jumping at the chance to resume their MR Cricket Hockey East League season.

With a reorganistion of the pyramid requiring more teams to enter the National League, the clubs in the top men’s and women’s divisions can restart next month, if they wish. It is understood a minimum of half a season must be completed to be eligible to take promotion.

And with fifth-placed Sudbury only four points adrift of a second-placed promotion spot in the Ladies Premier, there was no lack of hunger for returning for a shot at a historic rise to the National League.

The Sudbury Ladies I hockey team who celebrated promotion and the East Women's League Division 1 North title have a chance of successive elevations with two places up for grabs to the National League Picture: Kenny Moulton-Day
The Sudbury Ladies I hockey team who celebrated promotion and the East Women's League Division 1 North title have a chance of successive elevations with two places up for grabs to the National League Picture: Kenny Moulton-Day

Co-captain Kirsty Batch said: “Having missed out on so much I think everyone just wants to get back together and have a game or two.”

Her side’s last match was a disappointing 4-1 defeat at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, the home ground of Wapping I, on October 31.

It left Sudbury with three wins from their six matches played so far, with one draw and two defeats, out of a scheduled 22 matches. To be eligible to achieve promotion the side who play at Great Cornard Sports Centre would need to complete another five matches and finish in the top two.

Kirsty Batch, pictured in action, is co-captain of Sudbury Ladies I along with Liz Greaves Picture: Richard Marsham
Kirsty Batch, pictured in action, is co-captain of Sudbury Ladies I along with Liz Greaves Picture: Richard Marsham

But while it is currently uncertain how many teams will be coming back to play and how many fixtures that will present, it is certainly the target.

“I think the highest the club has ever finished is second in East Premier,” said Batch.

“It has definitely got to be the aim to be up there and we would definitely push ourselves if the opportunity was there.”

After accepting the invitation to resume she believes the promotion shake-up could be further complicated by those sides not playing on seeing those results removed.

Chloe Hunnable is once again leading Sudbury Ladies I's goalscoring charts Picture: Mark Westley
Chloe Hunnable is once again leading Sudbury Ladies I's goalscoring charts Picture: Mark Westley

“That’s my understanding,” she said. “Broxbourne are the only club we have heard from and they sent us an email saying they were not able to play on and apologised to sides that their results (against them) wouldn’t count.”

Ipswich are in pole position for the title with six wins from six and an eight-point lead on third place. But it was Sudbury’s opening day defeat to them that Batch said gave them the belief they could be a force at the higher level.

“We are disappointed, if anything, with a couple of the results,” she said, reflecting on their opening to the campaign.

“Our opening game was Ipswich and despite losing out in the last minute of that game (3-2 home loss) we grew in belief and our season built from there.”

The team hope to get back into training from March 29, with league matches set to resume at a yet-to-be-confirmed date, but likely to be next month.

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