Not so long ago, Runcorn Ladies Hockey Club were struggling in the bottom half of Cheshire County League Division Four. Now, following back-to-back championships, player KATE WOZNIAK reflects on the renaissance of the club.
MARCH 2006 saw Runcorn Ladies triumphant as we finished top of Division Four in the Cheshire Women's Hockey League.
Promotion into Division Three was a scary thought, but all the girls were determined to give it their all.
March 2007, and here I am again writing on the season just ended - and one which has finished with Runcorn Ladies sitting proudly at the top of the table, as champions again, and not having lost a league game all season!
With results like the 14-0 win over Warrington and a 10-1 victory over Newton-le-Willows, we have taken the higher division by storm.
We may not have the skills of the elite teams such as Bowdon-Hightown, whom our former player Nicky O'Donnell now captains.
But what we lack in technique, we make up for in team spirit. Never have I seen such a great bunch of girls come together, not only as hockey players, but as great friends.
This is what I believe did it for us this season and previously.
We started the season with the September Tournament. Having already won it two years in row, we were looking for our hat-trick.
More concerned with building human pyramids, playing off-ground tick and shouting 'paper scissors stone' as loud as possible, it was amazing we even scored a goal.
But goals we did score - one after another, after another. Despite even lending players to other teams for the day, Runcorn amazingly came out on top, not losing a match!
Queen's We Are The Champions blasted out. Could this be the start of another winning season?
Our spirits were high as we went into our first match of the league season against Chester & District who had been promoted with us at the end of 2005-06.
Although Runcorn were missing many players through injury, both teams had a fantastic game with one of the biggest crowds witnessed at the Heath School's artificial pitch.
A respectable 1-1 pleased both teams. Next came Oxton, previously home to our fantastic keeper Kate Smallwood.
Diane Holt and Sue Allen (with a broken thumb) secured Runcorn's second win of the season with a 2-1 victory.
Sue wanted to make her mark and by bagging a hat-trick against Alderley Edge the following week increased our lead at the top of the table.
We continued to win right up to the Christmas break, beating Warrington 6-0 and Macclesfield 6-3, and the winning streak continued into the New Year.
The girls went into the final match against Macclesfield knowing that they were champions of the league once more, and would be promoted into Division Two. A 4-1 home victory rounded things off perfectly.
Our special thanks go to all who have come to watch the girls play, week in week out. We hope we have entertained you, and given the boys' squad something to aspire to!
Our thanks, too, to Jem King and Barrie Cavanagh who have not only believed in the girls from the start but have been there to umpire our matches.
Without them, their wisdom and their inspirational half-time team talks, none of this would have been possible!
Playing through sun, wind, rain and snow, Runcorn girls cannot wait for the challenge that lies ahead.
Division Two will be tough, and that's for sure.
But we need a challenge. As long as we have a fantastic captain like Lisa Janion to gear us up, a great secretary like Jo Patton to do all the behind-the-scenes jobs and Becca Brown to collect the subs, this team will do well in whatever we do.
Created with an ethos of 'play to enjoy yourself', Runcorn's wins come from a determination to enjoy ourselves, to give it our best, and have a laugh along the way.
We are a team made of great friends; I'm sure our friendships will only strengthen.