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Harrogate Grammar Boys’ U13 hockey team retained their North of England title beating Manchester Grammar 1-0 in the final.
They had won 17 games in succession to reach the North finals and started confidently by beating Altrincham Grammar 2-0 and Yarm 1-0 in the group stage. However, in the final group game against a much favoured Manchester team they were outplayed, despite taking a 1-0 lead with three minutes to go. Karem Erbilir made a series of outstanding saves but eventually the pressure told and Manchester scored two late goals, the final score was 1-2.
As group runners up Harrogate Grammar School had to reinvigorate themselves and face the other group winners, QEGS in the semi-final. Tactics were adapted by coach Gordon Tweedle, which, combined with the inner belief of having beaten QEGS in a previous fixture, ensured the boys were ready for a very tough Yorkshire derby. In a high quality game Harrogate Grammar School (HGS) eventually scored late on and then defended strongly to deny the equaliser. Manchester won their semi-final against King’s Chester so game on! There was a complete momentum shift in this match with HGS the dominant team and the Manchester goalie keeping his team in the match. A late goal by Cooper Smith decided the outcome once again, and HGS became the only school to have won this trophy twice.
The U13s now move onto the National finals in May. At this stage last year the National finals proved a very steep learning curve losing all four group games. However, with three of last year’s squad still involved and the U12s being crowned North Yorkshire Champions and the U14s Yorkshire runners-up, there is great ambition to perform on the national stage this year.
Many of the boys play at Harrogate Hockey Club and a large part of the school victory is credit to the quality of coaching and support invested by their club coaches and volunteers.