WOTTON-under-Edge step into the big time at the end of the month for the start of their GoCre8 Hockey League Premiership adventure.

And while each year for the past three, the men’s first team have clinched promotion to the higher division, this time it really could be a case of consolidation.

But with a stable squad and extra training, the players looked in good form as they enjoyed victory in a seven-goal thriller at their opening pre-season warm-up clash last Saturday against Gloucester City which they won 4-3.

The team will also be involved in a club first on Friday October 6 when they play Team Bath Buccs under lights at Wotton Community PARC.

Chairman Stuart Emms said: “The players have been getting very fit and have been doing a bit of extra training over the weeks.”

And while Emms said there may be some new players to add to the squad soon, the core are those who have helped Wotton attain their status after successive promotions in recent years.

“By and large, it has been the same squad for the last three years. There have been no big names parachuted in. That’s quite important to us.

“We have a fairly good base at the moment but you can never stand still.”

Wotton are away to Bristol University in their Premiership debut on September 30 but precede that with warm-ups against Cheltenham seconds at home this Saturday and travel to Banbury the week before the league gets underway.

Emms said Wotton’s rise to the top of the tree had been thanks to a couple of important things. “You have to give credit to (Alistair) Hammond (captain) who has led from the front and changed the culture of the squad which is more professional.

“And it is a team game and the squad has been excellent.

“We have said for the last three years that we want to consolidate in the league and then we have exceeded that expectation. However, this should be a consolidation year because there are some good teams in this division.”

Meanwhile, the Wotton-under-Edge Hockey Club have new captains in five of their regular teams for the new season.

New ladies first team captain is Izzy Grimes who debuted for Wotton in the 2014/15 season, having moved back to the area.

Marlize Wood will lead the second team, having relocated to the UK last year. She has thirty years of hockey experience, latterly for Witbank Hockey Club in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The new men’s second team captain, James Bull, brings a wealth of experience to the table having 25 years playing experience for Cardiff, Gloucester City and, most notably his home town club of Banbury HC, where he was part of a side that lifted the HA Trophy.

Incoming men’s third team captain Darren Pearce is excited to put something back into the club he has played at for over 16 years.

Completing the leadership line up for 2017/18 is Stephen Hardman who will captain the men’s fourth team.

Like the ladies thirds captain Claire Morton, Hardman is a ‘graduate’ of the club’s ‘Back to Hockey’ sessions.

In conjunction with the club’s burgeoning junior section, WUEHC will be looking to build on the success of recent years at senior level.

This year, in addition to the seven senior XIs, the club will continue to run junior and youth hockey for boys and girls from Under-eights to Under-16s. A new development this year, following a successful trial back in July, will be mini-hockey sessions for 4-7-year-olds on Saturday mornings, complementing other activities at Wotton Community PARC at that time such as the weekly athletics Parkrun which is attended by many people.