Chesterfield Hockey Club have secured promotion... and the hard work has begun to maintain Division One spot
The coronavirus pandemic may have brought a halt to sport across the country, but the Men's Firsts still had something to celebrate as league tables along with promotions and relegations – were decided on a percentage points basis.
This allowed the Firsts to return to Division One.
This system also saw the Men's Thirds make it a double promotion-winning campaign for the club.
The Firsts will return to Division One for the first time in seven years, completing a journey which has seen them fall down the divisions but rapidly rise again.
After being relegated from the Midlands Premier they tumbled down the divisions.
However, they have swiftly fought their way back up.
Club chairman Rob Anderson believes the league tables were concluded in a fair manner.
“Most leagues were pretty much decided anyway, with some teams having one or two games left to play,” he told The Times.“The First team got promoted and the Thirds also got promoted, which was really good for the club.
“The Seconds and Fourths both finished mid-table while the Badgers’ development league was ended, as it’s a friendly league and there were no promotions or relgations.”
Hockey may be on hold at present, but Chesterfield continue to look ahead and prepare for life in their new surroundings.
"We're definitely planning for next season already," explained Mr Anderson.
"The coaches have had a couple of Zoom conference meetings."The hard work and planning for hockey when it is able to return is already up and running."
After forcing their way back into Division One, Chesterfield HC are determined to maintain their place.
Mr Anderson says lessons have been learned from the previous relegations, with the club eager to produce the talent which will see the teams thrive.
"I think in the past, like a lot of clubs, I suppose if you just focus on the elite end you lose your base," Mr Anderson added.
"The pyramid structure of the club, we need to keep developing players."Over the years we've had players come from South Africa, Greece, Poland and New Zealand.
"They've all been great but you need 12 to 14 others in the squad. You can't rely on one or two individuals."
Indeed, the club's ethos remains very much on creating talent from within, as is echoed by the new ladies' development team and links with Steveley Ladies HC.
"The development of players remains important," Mr Anderson told The Times.
"We'll lose a few players to uni this year. We're hoping some will travel back but, we've still got to keep developing players to make sure they're coming through and playing at a good standard of hockey to help them. Its that cyclical way we have."
"We've got 13 and 14-year-olds who are awesome but still need a few more years before they become first team players."
Encouraging youngsters to take up the sport is vital for Chesterfield to continue at the levels they currently enjoy.
Mr Anderson praised the work being done to get the sport to a wider audience.
He said: "The youth development in the town has been brilliant."We go into several primary schools in the area and do taster sessions with no charge.
"We can do sessions in schools or at after school clubs, and it puts children on the hockey pathway.
"We've got good under 10, 12, 14 , 16 and 18s sides and numbers are growing."
But why does Mt Anderson believe that hockey is so appealing?
"Parents see the benefit of hockey," he continued.
"There's contact involved, but you don't get the disruptive parenting on the sidelines either.
"It allows the children to develop and the coaches to coach, offering everyone encouragement.
"It's not just us, all clubs in the area have this ethos."
Indeed, the scheme is proving so successful that the club are currently looking for more pitch time for the juniors.
But at the opposite end of the age scale the club is also attracting new members through their adult Back to Hockey classes.
"We've seen several new members join the men's and ladies' set ups."
Chesterfield are also making sure that some aspects of club life can continue during lockdown… even if hockey isn’t among them.
We're keeping in contact in WhatsApp groups, boosting morale. We're keeping up the social side, which is what it's really about for a lot of people.
"We have some members of the older generation at the club. We're keeping in contact with them as well, making sure they're safe and well.
"The young players are also keeping themselves fit, doing their things."
England Hockey have currently postponed all domestic action until June 30, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
This means that Chesterfield’s juniors look likely to miss out on competing at the county championships.
“It is hugely disappointing to curtail hockey activity in this way and there will be many league and cup competitions which will not now reach their natural conclusion,” a statement read.
“The health and wellbeing of those in the hockey community is our overriding concern so please follow the government guidance and stay safe.”