HOCKEY: CREWE Vagrants believe they can come back even stronger after enjoying one of their best seasons for years.
The first team played some outstanding hockey during the 2004/2005 season and their fourth-place finish in the North Hockey League Division Two West is their best for some time.
But a poor end to the season ruined what could have been a promotion year. It has left regrets but confidence is high the team can go one better next season and win promotion.
Honorary secretary Chris Reece said: 'We had one of their best league seasons for some time, and it was thanks largely to a brilliant pre-Christmas run which saw us enter the New Year sitting proudly on top of the division.
'But, sadly, a string of four successive defeats from the last five fixtures meant the early promise could not be main-
tained. Skipper Steve Bourne and his team can take great credit from their fourth-place finish. He has moulded a cohesive, disciplined side capable of even greater success.'
A number of heavy pre-season defeats had affected confidence and the campaign started poorly with a 1-0 home defeat to Bolton.
But newcomers Tim Alexander and Gary Roberts soon settled in and the comfortable defeat of Wrexham a week later signalled a revival.
And recovery turned into serious potential when Vagrants disposed of eventual champions Manchester 5-2, with strikes from Neil Darling (2), James Capper (2) and Dave Holland.
Further victories over Formby, Nelson and Bebington were aided by the outstanding form of the Crewe back four of Nick Marshall, Mark Ritchie, Paddy Leese and Paul Lambsdale.
Draw specialists and eventual runners-up Lytham halted progress when they snatched another tie. But prolific goalscoring from strikers Dave Holland, James Capper and Andrew Ashworth fired them to three more wins and a draw before the festive period.
Only three further wins were gained, over City of Manchester, Bebington and Bramhall, with injury and illness playing their part. But Reece says the future looks bright.
He added: 'We had outstanding contributions from Holland, Neil Darling, Capper, Ashworth, Roberts and Ravi Kaler. And we take much encouragement for the future from the excellent performances of youngsters Henry Weir, Phil Morant and Jon Woodhart.'