Plymouth Marjon player-coach Simon Fenwick is anticipating a thrilling race for the West of England & South Wales Hockey League men’s regional title.
The Reds will top the standings over Christmas and into 2018 but Fenwick is not one to rest on any festive laurels.
The first and second team head coach revealed: “Our aim at the start of the season was a top four finish for the firsts.
“Our priority was to get the second team promoted and, at the moment, both sides top their respective divisions so we are in a good position.
“It’s exciting but it’s also only half-time as far as the season is concerned and we know we have got a big second half of the season coming up.
“None of us are taking anything for granted, and we know it’s going to be tough.”
Rory Coles, ‘J J’ Brown and Steve Beattie scored for Plymouth’s first team – skippered by Phil Mutlow – as the Reds rounded off the year with a 3-0 win at Truro to maintain a four-point lead over second-placed Bristol University at the Premiership summit.
However Bristol University have a game in hand on the leaders – a postponed trip to Wotton-under-Edge – and a rescheduled Friday, January 19 trip to Cardiff side Whitchurch.
By the time Plymouth line-up for their second game of the New Year, at Westbury on January 20, they should have played the same number of games (12) as Bristol.
However Fenwick believes the Premiership title chase is far from a two-horse race. “Like I said the aim for us was always to ensure the firsts were a good top four side and I think we are,” he said.
“But I think it would be impossible now – at this stage of the season – to predict in what order the top four will finish.
“We still have to go to Bristol Uni and we know that is going to be a big game, and we know they are still the side to beat.
“They went up to the national league and have come back down but having done that with Plymouth we know the experience you gain in the national league – win, lose or draw – is invaluable and puts you in good stead and a much stronger place when you return to regional league hockey.”
Plymouth also have a tricky, rescheduled Premiership trip to third placed Team Bath Buccs A – now set for Sunday, January 28 – as well as restarting their campaign at home to the only side to have beaten them, derby rivals University of Exeter A, on Saturday, January 13.
Fenwick is philosophical, how- ever, saying: “It’s exciting but there is a long way to go. The players can relax and enjoy Christmas but they know that when we get back there is even more hard work to do if they want to maintain the standard they have set in the first half of the season.”