Derwent U12s won their first Junior County Championship with a stunning display to break the dominance in recent years of Belper and Burton.
Fielding two teams, Derwent had representation in both sides of the group phase. Whilst Derwent Rapids narrowly missed out on making the semi-finals down to goal difference, Derwent Torrents made the breakthrough.
Playing in the group phase, Derwent got off to a flyer. Playing against a talented Burton team, the game looked set to end in stalemate. However, a late penalty was calmly slotted home by James Smith.
In their second game against Buxton, Derwent were guilty of switching off after taking an early lead through Alex Liddle. Buxton took full advantage and got their deserved equaliser. Despite having large amounts of pressure, Derwent couldn’t find the breakthrough and the game ended tied.
This set up a crucial game against Belper with victor knowing they would progress to the semi-finals. Derwent produced their best hockey of the competition, and immediately had Belper on the back foot. Josh Beardsley and James Smith were in inspired form, with Beardsley producing the goal of the game. He rounded two defenders, and then nutmegged the on rushing keeper with a deft flick. Derwent ran out four nil winners, ensuring they made the knockout phase.
With Burton fielding three strong sides, Derwent faced Burton Whites in the semi-final. Derwent were determined not to miss out on their chance of making their first final and despite a committed and hardworking performance from Burton, Derwent ran out three nil winners with a great goal from Ben Sellors.
This set up the final against holders Burton Reds. Both teams featured talented youngsters, which demonstrated the strength of Derbyshire Hockey. The final was an even affair, with Derwent’s defence put to the test by Burton’s talented forwards. But with the goalkeeper and defenders in excellent form, Derwent were able to turn defence into attack.
Marshalled by captain Jack Lloyd, it was Derwent’s turn to up the pressure. The irrepressible James Smith flew down the left wing and unleashed a rocket of a back hand shot, which cannoned off the post. The rebound fell to Jack Cruise who slotted home to send Derwent’s supporters into raptures, and sealed Derwent’s historic win.
Manager Pete Lloyd and coach Heath Roberts were understandably delighted: “I am so proud of the boys. For a club of our size to win the County Cup is an incredible achievement. Five years ago we completely changed how we run the youth section and basically started from scratch. Starting with just five boys we now have over 40. And, whilst winning this is brilliant, seeing all of the lads enjoy their hockey is the most important thing. This win is the icing and the cherry on top.”