Brilliant Buckingham win fifth title in seven years to set up shot at promotion

The title-winning squad
The title-winning squad

Buckingham Ladies Hockey Club will have the opportunity to win promotion back to the Investec Premier Division, the top tier of English hockey, in the end-of-season play-offs after sealing their fifth West League title in seven years.

Ahead of the short trip to local rivals Oxford Hawks last week, Buckingham knew two wins from their final two games would clinch yet another title but, as it happened, their subsequent thumping 5-0 victory was enough to confirm top spot following news of a draw for second-placed Stourport.

“Winning the title is a huge achievement for this group,” said coach Zak Jones afterwards. “The squad thoroughly deserve their success.

“They have have all put in a huge amount of work, time and commitment in order to get to this point. They have also shown great character, resilience and skill throughout the course of the season and I am incredibly proud of them.

“Winning leagues is never easy. They proved themselves to be the best and most consistent side in the west and have taken the club to its fifth title in seven years which is an incredible achievement.

“On top of that, our defence is the best in the whole of the Investec National League and we are fifth in terms of goals scored, which is also pleasing.

“We will ensure we take time to celebrate and enjoy the achievement as a group. However, we will keep our feet firmly on the ground and then turn our attentions to preparing for the play-offs and the challenges they will present in our quest for for promotion back into the Premier League.”

With their destiny in their own hands, Buckingham were in blistering form at Oxford, flying out of the blocks and jumping into a lead inside just six minutes. It was Abbie Brant’s goal that settled the nerves and not long later, Leanne Grimsley fired home a penalty corner, followed by England U18 star Alice Rolfe getting in on the act.

That made it 3-0 at half-time and despite a less dominant second-half, player of the match Brant netted her second before Lottie Porter completed a fine day’s work.

It was not until shortly after the game that the squad realised the significance of this win. As news filtered through that nearest rivals Stourport had drawn, a delighted team realised the title was theirs.

This topped off a fantastic week for the first team after regular captain Zoe Shipperley skippered Great Britain in a 5-4 victory against Ireland in a friendly during the week.

Buckingham will lift the trophy on Saturday when they host Firebrands at Akeley Wood School at 2pm.