M1 (National League Division 1 South):
The Men under new head coach Kwan Browne and assistant Huw Stevens have enjoyed a season which began with a bang with a 7-1 away win at Brighton and has with just two blips continued with goal aplenty and much to celebrate along the way.
New players Marcano, Ramshaw, West and Sofat have all distinguished themselves as they formed a strong team dynamic with Southgate veterans and younger players alike. Captain John Sterlini and senior players like Guilio Ferrini and Rob Schilling have led the way and it’s been great to chart the rise of younger players like Rob Gill and Charles Hamilton delivering on the promise shown as they worked their way up the Southgate ranks.
Highlights have included wonder goals away at Old Cranleighans, last quarter comebacks away at Sevenoaks and two big victories against old rival Canterbury home and away. At the other end of the scale the recent loss to Old Loughts on super Saturday made for a great spectacle but after being 2-0- at half time a bitter pill for Gate supporters to swallow.
The Men now face the final 3 games of their season kicking off with The University of Bristol away on Sunday afternoon- a win there combined with any loss of points from Old Loughts as they face 3rd placed Teddington away from home will confirm the team as league champions with the prize of promotion to the premier division after an almost decade long absence. They then come back for two home games to see out the season against Sevenoaks on the 25th March and finally Old Cranleighans on the 2nd April.
Before then there is a job to do this weekend against a team fighting for their place in the division- the students are not expected to make Southgate’s journey to the South West an easy one.
M2 (London Premium Division): The faultless start to the season has slightly lost its fizz in recent weeks with defeats to lower-placed teams and promotion to the National League now only a mathematical theory. However, an exciting three games remain as Southgate can dictate who does get promoted with games against the top two teams – London Edwardians and Wimbledon 2s – as their final two games of the season.
M3 (London Div 2N): After the departure of so-many of last season’s players to University, this was always going to be a rebuild season for the M3s.Particularly in the second half of the season the team have rebuilt well. An impressive 8-Nil thrashing of East London 2s last Saturday has put the M3s in no mood to take prisoners. Their three remaining games against Richmond 2, H&W 4 and Wapping 4 will determine a fifth or sixth place mid-table finish.
M4 (London Div 2N): Promoted to this division to join our M3s this season, the M4s have competed incredibly well in this tough league of strong teams. Despite them being in the danger zone – 10th place, one point above the relegation 11th place spot – the majority of their defeats have been to a single goal. Clearly capable of competing at this level and inspirationally led by their captain – Alessandro Onano – a final push against H&W 4, West Hampstead 2 and H&W 3 in the last three games will determine whether the M4s stay or go from Div 2N – it is their hands!
M5 (London Div 4NW): Promoted to this division for the 22/23 season, the “Mighty Fives” have had a mixed season. Availability, injury and changes of personnel have all played their part in making this a season where games have been lost from lead positions. However, in a new division and with just two games to go (assuming only two get relegated) the M5s are safe from relegation. A sixth place finish is now possible with games against Richmond Griffins and West Hampstead 5s still to play. If this spot is secured it will be a great achievement, will have built a foundation for change next season and allow for a 6thXI to move across into the London League for the 23/24 season.
M4A (East Div 4SW): The M4As have had a season of two halves. Designed as a Development team and led again this year by the masterful Jon Huddleston, the mix of adult and junior players is always a fine balance to make work. Post-Christmas and including the extra guile and physicality of Ali Priestley the M4As have played 9, Won 5, Drawn 2 and Lost 2. Currently lying 6th in the table, with three games to go against Royston 2 (10th), WGC 2 (4th) and Hertford 3 (7th), a top four finish is not out of the question.
M5A (East Div 5SW): Perhaps harshly, but not without merit, this team have got a bit a of reputation as chokers! Too many games the M5A have squandered leads of two or more goals. Last Saturday from a 6-2 with twelve minutes to go, they very nearly did it again but in the end clung on to a 6-5 result! Again this teams mixes age and experience with youth and pace to good effect. For some it is the first dip into the waters of Men’s hockey and we have seen many boys progress from Tankards, through M5A and upwards. Seemingly lying in relative safety in mid-table 6th place, there are a number of teams that are close, so nothing is guaranteed and a win or two are needed to be certain of survival. Trips to Blueharts and Broxbourne are punctuated by a home game on 25th March against likely promotion-bound St Albans 8.
Tankards (East Div 8SW): Too many of the Tankards games have had to be forfeited due to lack of players. In many ways we are victim to the school sports schedule for the younger players and to the Masters O60s hockey weekly rather than bi-weekly games. However, the weeks that we have been able to put out sides the Tankards have played very well and won the majority of their games. They happily sit mid-table of their division. Two games remain – away against Stevenage 4 this Saturday and then at home against Shefford & Sandy 4 the week after.
Titans (London Masters O50s Premier Division): A division of ten teams, so 18 fixtures to play (plus the Sunday O50 Cup campaign which ended at the quarter-final stage this season). Recent weeks seem to have passed with games being postponed, so the Titans still have five games to play. They sit as an island in 5th spot eight points behind 4th place and 8 points above 6th place – the Titans really are in a class of their own! Thank you to many of them – Brian Cade, Howie Wilson and Pietro Attala in particular – for helping out and strengthening other teams in the Club during their off weeks. Keep pushing to get your games done.
Magnums (London Masters O60s Premier Division): The O60s has nine teams competing and in the slip weeks the 5As and Tankards have benefitted from the crafty skills from the likes of MS Patti, Nigel Spencer-Knott, Tony Mastroddi and Robin Tullo. It appears that Spencer smash this O60s division with Indian Gymkhana and Brombeck relatively close behind. Then the rest of the division compete in very close contests both home and away. Two more games remain against Chelmsford and IG that could see a mid-table finish if two wins were to be secured.