England: Timperley Aim For Fireworks With Conference North Title Hopes

Timperley have aspirations to win Men’s Conference North after twice finishing runners up, reports Rod Gilmour of The Hockey Paper 

It’s fair to say that Timperley have had a free-scoring “Kevin Keegan mentality” in recent seasons. As a goalkeeper now watching on in his role as player-coach of Timperley men, Rob Turner has tried to play with more possession as they bid for promotion to Division 1 after two successive near misses.

Timperly usually don’t miss when it comes to goal and this season has been a Keegan-like start, 8-0 against Beeston 2s and 9-0 away to Belper for two opening wins before hitting a last quarter “blip” against current league leaders Lindum. 

“It was 3-3 going into the last quarter and we should have been 6-2 up,” recalls Turner. “But because we weren’t, the heads went and they scored five in the last quarter. It highlighted that we weren’t quite there yet.”

“Over the years it was a case of can they score more than the opposition, a Kevin Keegan type mentality. It’s getting used to being in possession of the ball.

“They are confident they can score. I am keen to be fluid and the defenders going to attack as long as we’ve got cover.”

As goalkeeper, Turner admits he should have changed the tactics for the last quarter against their title rivals. “That’s the difficulty sometimes with a player-coach,” he adds, “if I was on the side it would have been easier rather than being immersed on the pitch.” 

Timperley Hockey Club

Turner took over last season having been player-coach at Brooklands 1s. He had started out as a Timperley player, his college coach starting him out in the game as a late-developing teen.

From there he went to Premier Division side Brooklands, before 12 years at Bowdon and a move back to Brooklands. During this time he was also a coach at Timperley, as well as at Wilmslow. He had semi-retired for a fortnight two seasons ago before Timperley chair Shelagh Everett asked him over as a player.

“At Brooklands we were travelling down the M6 and our nearest away game was Beeston and Reading,” admits Turner. “We were getting beat quite a lot and we would have plucky performances down south and maybe lose 3-2 and it was harder when central contracts came in.”

Turner’s return to Timperley was entwined with launching the club’s Talent Academy, while on the pitch the team finished second. Last season it went to the last game with Timperley needing to win by three goals as Leeds ultimately ushered in promotion.

Despite the crazy start to the 2023/24 season, they have only shipped one goal in four barring Lindum ahead of this Sunday’s home game, a pre-fireworks encounter against Ben Rhydding. After five games, Lindum head the league by a point over chasing Timperley and Doncaster.

At Timperley, it is not uncommon to see several same family names on the matchday team sheets, while the club bond means that high-performing players continue to play.

A family club in the same mold as Bowdon, Timperley, part of a sports club alongside cricket, has two pitches and is set to extend its clubhouse with plans for a new pitch, spectator stand, built-in dugout and video tower. “With the facilities and the way the club is run, we can push Brooklands and Bowdon. That’s the aim.”

Turner refers to the “brilliant” Everett in the way Timperley is run, who first made contact on Turner returning. “She is keen for the whole hockey section to do well,” he adds. “She knows what it takes from the top end as well as everyone else. 

Timperley Hockey Club

“Shelagh has trusted me in what I am pushing for, she has made life a lot easier and is involved in every part of the club that has a gap needing to be filled. If you have a volunteer like that it’s invaluable isn’t it? But there are lots of volunteers at the club and that’s why the club is doing well.”

On the pitch, Timperley’s captain Connor Miller has come through the junior set up, the 2s (under new coach Chris Simcock) are vying for promotion into Conference, while the 3s have several former 1s players in their ranks and are looking to make a move up in the North West leagues. The 1s “sole aims”, says Turner, are promotion to Division 1 North.

They are buoyed on by healthy attendances. On match days, it is not uncommon to get “three or four deep” down one portion of the touchline, while opposition clubs are also bringing more support. Turner says: “We’ve got quite a few coming to watch, which is a shift change and playing exciting hockey makes a difference I suppose!”

Sunday: Timperley v Ben Rhydding, 2pm

by England Hockeyl

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