Sheffield Bankers' title-winning team
Sheffield Bankers' title-winning team
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Deafening cheers from ecstatic Sheffield Bankers University players, coaches and fans were ringing out around Manchester last weekend.

And the reason? Well, the men’s first team had just hung on to beat City of Manchester 3-2 in their last league game of the season - and clinch the North 1 Division title to boot.

The Goodwin side opened the scoring early in the first half through George Ashton, quickly followed by a second from Josh Darlington before Manchester pulled one back just before half time.

Bankers then looked to have wrapped the win up when James Coezens found the back of the net with the Sheffield side’s 100th goal of the season.

But Manchester gave the Bankers a nervous last ten minutes after they grabbed a second and laid siege on the visitors’ goal.

Bankers head coach Matt Northcott said: “What a game!

“It ended up being a thriller like so many of ours this season.

“I could barely watch the last 10 minutes and when that final whistle blew I felt incredibly emotional and everyone went wild.

“It’s difficult to put into words exactly what this achievement means but I think the reaction at the end of the game demonstrated what a relief the club felt.

“Over the course of the season the side deserved the title and we’ve won it in style because right until the end, we played attractive, attacking hockey - and reaching 100 goals is such an achievement. I couldn’t have asked any more from the players.”

Bankers finished unbeaten in the table after 22 games, with 18 victories and four draws leaving them just two points ahead of closest league rivals City of York.

Skipper Matt Godden added: “What a season this has been - the title came right down to the wire and I think our side definitely played the best hockey in the league over the campaign.

“The highlight for me has to be beating York 3-2 in the last minute, you just don’t get to play in games like that often and we managed to swing the league back in our favour because of that result.

“The side never gave up hope and we’ve all adapted to the coaches attacking philosophy of play this season which I hope fans have enjoyed watching.”

Much of the Sheffield side’s success this season can be attributed to their attacking prowess.

But crucially, they only conceded 29 goals - the best defensive record in the division and goalkeeper Simon Hibbert, 29, was named player of the season at the club’s award dinner on Saturday.

Simon, playing in his seventh season with the club, said: “It’s such an honour to receive this award and I’m just glad that I could play a vital role for the club this season.

“It’s great that we have played with such flair under our coach’s guidance but a solid defence has been at the heart of our success this year and I hope we can continue this into the Premier Division nest season.”

Skipper Matt added: “When you know you have such a skilled and talented ‘keeper behind you it allows the team to play with a great freedom and assurance. Everybody has played their part in getting the trophy this year but Simon fully deserves this accolade.”

Bankers, who will play in the North Premier Division next season, also have their sights set on double trophy success as the Sheffield side take on Gore Court in the semi-final of the England Hockey Trophy on Saturday at the Goodwin centre, after beating Ashford 4-1 in the previous round.

Bob Hindle, Bankers’ club chairman, said: “It has been an incredible season for the club and squad and it would really be the icing on the cake to get to the final in London.

“I don’t want to see players being complacent and still celebrating the league success, focus must now turn to the cup.

“Matt Northcott has done an incredible job in his first year in charge and I want to see all the players give their all in the semi-final on the weekend - the season isn’t over until we lift the cup trophy as well.”