2003-04 SEASON SUMMARY

Having felt aggrieved at losing their National league status last season by a whisker, the Hooks Lane men bounced back to the big time at the first attempt, pipping Hertford to the London 1 title in a gripping last day of the season drama at a packed Hertford.

For much of the season this looked an unlikely outcome, as the Hav squad, ravaged by injury, and with the added excitement of a 1st Powergen Intermediate Cup run, looked to be heading for 2nd spot, as Hertford were rolling over everyone in sight.

Early season injury problems meant that Hav’s strength in depth was sorely tested, and by the end of November the team had incurred three defeats and slipped to 4th place. However, from this point things started to improve, and there followed a long unbeaten run both in league and cup that stretched into the middle of March. It had taken Hav to second place in the league, and an assured play-off spot, and to the semi-final of the cup. In the semi-final, at North 1 champions Bradford & Bingley, the home side won a titanic struggle 39-23. However, the experience held Hav in good stead for the final stages of the league, and in particular for the title decider in the last game of the season away at leaders Hertford, where Hav’s massed travelling supporters saw a committed performance, and the championship secured by a 23-16 victory.

Hav were the league’s entertainers, scoring 876 points, the most prolific attack, and conceding 269, the meanest defence. Head coach Owen Cobbe and captain Jon Barfoot harnessed the experience of their professional days whilst engendering a great team spirit, and new heroes emerged at Hooks Lane when established stars were injured. The whole squad must take pride in their achievement, including assistant coaches, Matt Hart and Simon Morgan, and Director of Rugby, Adam King.

The massive challenge of surviving at National 3 level awaits, and is relished by the Hooks Lane men and their supporters.