Cowell's first season as Maidenhead HC captain blighted in ways he couldn't have imagined

Phil Cowell remains hopeful Maidenhead Hockey Club will return to competitive action later this spring, however, his first season as captain has been blighted in ways he could not have imagined when he took on the reins from teammate Chris Brown.

Cowell had hoped the club would build on their impressive finish to last season’s MBBO Premier Division 2 West campaign, but instead, after playing just six matches, the league was halted after the country was placed back into lockdown. The captain didn’t play many of those matches, after suffering a back injury in the side’s second match against Henley. He returned for their final game against Southgate but admitted last week it’s been a frustrating period.

England Hockey and the Southern Hockey League are waiting on further guidance from Government before deciding if the hockey season can resume later this year. Cowell said last week his best guess is that matches may resume in early to mid-April and continue through to May.

It is hoped that each side can play each other at least once to determine league placings.

He said: “It’s really frustrating. Especially for me personally as it’s my first season as captain and we’ve been hit massively. It’s not the perfect season I would have liked to have led the team through. I miss being on the pitch as well. It almost feels like I’ve missed a season of important hockey.

“I’ve just turned 30-years-old old and now I’m thinking ‘how many more matches am I going to get in before the niggles become more serious. I think I played the first game and then it was in the second game against Henley that my back got really bad. I was back for the last game against Southgate, but it’s doubly frustrating because I only had two games and 10 minutes really.”

“In that sense it’s gutting to be missing so much hockey, but obviously everyone’s health is so much more important.”

The Maidenhead teammates have been keeping each other going with fitness challenges throughout lockdown and Cowell is hopeful they’ll return to the training pitch at some point before the season is officially restarted or cancelled.

“In January we tried to complete 100km in a month,” he said. “Quite a few of the guys took part in that and it was just a bit of friendly competition to keep everyone training and moving. We had to get some fitness in after Christmas as well. Hopefully we can all get back on the training pitch and see everyone at some point.

Cowell is hopeful on a positive announcement from England Hockey in the coming weeks and he says most of the team are keen to get back to action after such a long break. England Hockey are set to make an announcement on February 15, and the Southern Premier League will make a further statement and decision on what they’re going to do with their league on February 22,” he said.

“Some teams have only played four games and they’ll probably have to play a couple of double headers on a Saturday and Sunday.

“In that sense it’s quite lucky that we’ve played a couple more games. I expect doubling up would be quite hard on the body after such a long break.

“It’s almost like restarting again. We will need to have a pre-season. The only positive I can say is, myself personally, I’ve had quite a long ongoing issue, and this has given me time to recover from it and do my exercises. I’ve spoken to the other guys who have also had some muscle injuries and they’ve also been able to recover. So, it’s swings and roundabouts. If we restart, we’ll have to do a pre-season and will have some hard work to do. But at least everyone’s niggles and stuff have had time to recover.”

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