A MEMORABLE return to competition was enjoyed by Skipton Ducks Underwater Hockey team when the players got off to a flying start on Sunday at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge International Sports Centre.

The team was competing in its first ever tournament since its inception in 2018.

The Ducks, led by captain David Colley, proved they were a future force to be reckoned with in a 9-3 win against a combined Liverpool and Lancaster University team. Some incredible goals were scored by Rachel Young, Kieran Rochell and former international player and vice captain, Lewis Saleem.

Keeping formation, they followed it up with a narrow 3-2 victory over Oxford University, with goals scored by Kris McBride, Becky Bowers and a last-minute winner by lead Duck, David Colley.

The third game was a nail-biting clash against York which went down to the wire as both teams exchanged goals throughout the match. With the scores tied at 4-4 with three minutes to go, York pulled away with a last minute winner to give the brave Ducks its first loss of the tournament.

A big game was had by Mike Avison and Daryl Swales, who scored a great goal from defence. Veteran Duck, Alan Stansfield, led the team into its fourth match in what is his fourth decade of underwater hockey.

Coming up against the undefeated Manchester, it was a challenge that the Ducks accepted and fought hard to go into half time 3-2 down. With some inspiring words at half time by Dave and Lewis, the Ducks flew out at half time to level the scores at 3-3 before conceding an unfortunate goal to be down 4-3 with two minutes to play. With the Ducks never-say-die attitude, they summoned everything they had to score a late equaliser and lock in a podium finish. The silver medal was up for grabs in the final game against Yorkshire. Team designer and right wing Andy Hatfield had a strong first half but it was Yorkshire which pulled ahead at the break to lead 2-0. The second half was another tight affair but it wasn’t to be for the Ducks as the players couldn’t capitalise on their hard efforts, with the game ending 2-0. Overall, it was an extremely successful tournament for the ducks, picking up the bronze medal.

Congratulations to Dave Colley, founder of the Skipton Ducks, whose tireless efforts over the years has resulted in the development of this exciting team which will be a force to be reckoned with in future tournaments.

The Ducks train each Friday at Craven Leisure between 7.30pm and 8.30pm. If you are interested in coming along to try out your first session (for free), contact Dave on Facebook (@SkiptonUWH) or Instagram (@Skipton_UWH).

Underwater hockey, also known as Octopush, is a globally played six-a-side game using a 30cm hockey stick.