Leeds Men’s Hockey take on Newcastle tomorrow at 4pm in the LS Match of the Day at Weetwood. LS’s Jack Fairs caught up with Gryphons forward Alfie Jones ahead of the big game to discuss Leeds’ push for promotion.
How do you feel the season has gone so far for the Gryphons?
So far we’ve had a really successful season. We’re in second behind Durham 2’s who obviously can’t get promoted. So now it’s a battle between us and Leeds Met to get promoted. We’ve put ourselves in a pretty strong position. We lost against Liverpool and we lost away to Sheffield in the cup which was unfortunate but we’re doing well.
So what are the team’s aims for this season? Is promotion the ultimate goal?
Yes, definitely. We were looking to be top of the league at Christmas and unfortunately we were just beaten to it by Durham. Second half of the season? Yes, promotion is definitely on the cards.
How have you found coming down from BUCS Premier Division this year? How has the transition been?
There’s a huge difference between the two leagues. We’re in a position where we’re still growing as a club and as a team. We’re hoping to be back up there competing with the best. There’s a definite gap between the two leagues. It’s a lower standard. It’s a league we definitely want to get out of as soon as possible.
You’ve won three and drawn three so far. Has finishing games off been a problem this season?
Yes it always has been. Both on a Wednesday and a Saturday. We are struggling with that. We train hard to be more clinical and it’s coming.
You beat Newcastle 3-0 last time out. Has that given you good confidence going into this game?
It was a hard away game against Newcastle. We went there and we were on top of them all game. We played some really exceptional hockey and we hope to take that into this game as well.
What was the key to beating Newcastle last time? What was the game plan?
They are very weak at the back and down the right-hand side and we played good, interchangeable hockey down the right and we were clinical in that game. We had a strong defence, we played down the right well and we were really clinical with our finishing.
What would a win on Wednesday do for your season?
With one game in hand, we’re already two points ahead of Met. This could effectively see us into the playoffs. We will be in strong contention for promotion if we win this game and Met lose their game. We will be 5 points ahead.
Who are going to be the players to watch for the Gryphons on Wednesday?
Simon Hanley in the middle. He is always solid and excellent with the ball. Down the right we’ve got Oliver Swann back. We are also strong at the back with Matt Proctor and Tom Precious and up front we’ve got some experience; across the board we’ve got strong players.