Eleven players from Rochdale Underwater Hockey Club travelled to Plymouth last weekend to compete in the National Age Group Championships and Rochdale’s Under-12s representatives came away with a gold medal.
Due to players isolating due to Covid and the lack of pool time in the last 18 months it was necessary for clubs to combine to make up teams.
Six players from the Under-12s team – Adam McCormick, Syd Harrison, Billy Brown, Emily Smith, George Jenkins and Thomas Smith – combined with four players from Plymouth and took on TSE (The South East) and TSW (The South West) and played a triple round robin.
Rochdale played TSW first and had a comfortable win 5-2, with 4 different goal scorers. TSE were up next and that was a much tougher game with a Rochdale goal in the last few seconds giving them victory 3-2.
TSW were then defeated by Rochdale 6-0, and confidence was high going into the second match against TSE, however this game ended up as a 2-3 defeat despite two excellent long-range goals from Adam McCormick.
Next was TSW and despite tired legs, a relatively easy win 4-1.
It was winner takes all in the final game of the day for the Under-12s, against TSE again, as both sides had the exact same results throughout the tournament.
Rochdale got an early goal very quickly with some excellent teamwork. Rochdale then attacked hard and pushed TSE right back into their goalmouth but despite sustained pressure, it was TSE who managed to break away and roll back the Rochdale defence and score the second goal. Now it was 1-1 and time was ticking away.
Once again it was Rochdale who were doing all the attacking with TSE repeatedly blocking scoring moves on their goal line, but not able to clear it away and push Rochdale back. After 5 minutes play with the puck constantly being recycled, the pressure finally paid off and TSE conceded a second goal.
2-1 to Rochdale and 3 minutes left to play. After a quick restart, Thomas got a great break to push TSE back. At this point the coach would have been happy with Rochdale just keeping possession and winding down the clock, but the players had other ideas and decided that flat out attack was the best option and eventually scored again to make it 3-1 with less than 30 seconds left on the clock.
A great result and Rochdale/Plymouth were the Under-12 National Tournament winners with a cup and gold medals to show for it.
Rochdale also had three Under-16s at the tournament, Adam Thetford, Ben Johnson and Sophie Redmond. They joined with five Plymouth players, unfortunately they struggled throughout due to a lack of coach and and additional player and finished in last place.
The two Rochdale Under-19 players, Isaac Rhodes-Dawson and Jacob Redmond joined the North West team. The team was hit by last minute withdrawals due to Covid and had just 5 players. In underwater hockey the game is played with six players in the water at any one time and four rolling substitutes, so it looked like the NW team would find it hard work.
Their achievement of six wins, one draw and one loss, was astonishing. The standard of play was excellent, with GB players in every team they played against. Every game was tightly contested and there was usually just one goal separating the teams.
The final result was a silver medal for the North West team.
Underwater Hockey is played on the bottom of the pool using mask snorkel and fins. The object of the game is to score by pushing a plastic-coated lead puck into the opponent’s goal using a plastic stick approx. 30cms in length.
The Rochdale Club has been playing at Oulder Hill Leisure Complex for the last 40 years. The club is currently looking for new players and can be contacted through Facebook. New players need to be able to swim a minimum of 4 lengths and be confident in the water.