Maidenhead captain Cowell backs league's decision to end the season

Maidenhead’s hockey captain Phil Cowell said he’s fairly pleased with the league’s decision to cancel the remainder of the season believing it would have been too much for his ring-rusty players to resume competitive matches so soon after lockdown restrictions were eased.

The players returned to training last week and had been due to jump straight back into MBBO Premier Division 2 West league action at the weekend before Cowell received an email from the league confirming the season had been declared null and void.

The league had explored the possibility of trying to part-complete the season, to ensure that every side played each other at least once before the end of May.

However, most club captains saw sense and called for the season to be ended so the focus could be switched to preparing for next season.

Maids were sixth in the table after seven games when the season was halted before Christmas.

“I received the email at the start of last week telling us a decision had been taken to cancel our league season,” said Cowell. “Most captains had voted to end the season early and to void the results and, to be honest, I was fairly pleased with that decision. It would have been tough to come back and play league games straight away. It would have been a big toll on the players to get back to that intensity of hockey after a season that’s been so bitty.

“To go and play matches just to get to 11 games and to have a league table wouldn’t have represented a proper season. With a couple of lucky results, a team could end up near the top of the table and, after only 11 games, it wouldn’t have been a fair reflection in my eyes.”

Cowell missed most of the first seven matches because of injury and he was wary about going straight back into competitive action this month for fear that he and his teammates could aggravate knocks. He felt they’d need much more time to prepare both physically and mentally for the demands of the league season. “For me personally to have gone back into league matches against some of the teams and the calibre they are, it would have been a massive toll,” he added. “The intensity of league matches you just can’t replicate, and we’d have had one training session and then a league game (if the league had stuck with its original plan). It would have been tough as we usually try to get in at least six weeks of training before a new season.”

The cancellation of the season doesn’t mean Maidenhead’s players are simply hanging up their hockey sticks, however, with Cowell saying they’ve got a number of friendly and semi-competitive competitions lined up for the spring and summer.

“We went back to training last week and played some mini games, it was good fun,” said Cowell. “It was good to see everyone, to get back out there and get a bit of the rough stuff.

“We’ve got some friendlies lined up, and the boys I’ve spoken to said they’d much rather play friendlies than league matches where there’s no pressure on the outcome. We’ll play Reading 2nds next weekend and Henley the weekend after that. It won’t be too far to travel, and everyone can get there in their own cars. There is also the summer league based out of Reading Hockey Club which is fun and light-hearted but still competitive. We use it to build up for the new season and there’s also some mixed leagues happening in Slough, so there’s lots going on.”

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