Warriors celebrate

WHITLEY Warriors are celebrating after picking up their second trophy of the season.

They won the prestigious North Tyneside Sports Team of the Year award last week, being presented with their trophy by North Tyneside Council officials.

The Warriors, holders of the English National League North, retained the trophy without losing a game this season.

In addition they also landed the Play-Off title in 2010 and begin their defence of that trophy this weekend.

Coach Simon Leach accepted the award on behalf of the club and stated it was for everyone involved with the Warriors.

“We are delighted to have all the hard work people put into this club recognised, and the fact we have been rewarded as the best sports club in North Tyneside is credit to all of them,” he said.

“Obviously it is the players who have gone out onto the ice and worked hard to achieve the success that has come our way, but there is also many people behind the scenes who are deserving of this award and we would like to thank North Tyneside Council for the honour bestowed upon us.”

After retaining their league title with a record of 24 wins and four draws from 28 games, the Warriors now look to make sure the play-off title stays at Hillheads when travel to Lancashire to face Blackburn Hawks in the opening leg of their semi-final this weekend.

Blackburn only clinched their place with a 2-2 draw at home to Telford last Sunday, and Leach knows his side will have to battle hard to get through to the final.

“They (Blackburn) are a very unpredictable side,” he admitted, “and can be very difficult to beat if they are on their game.

“But we have had success against them already this season and must be strong defensively against a side that likes to play a very open game.

“However, if we can shut down their offensive opportunities, we have more than enough players capable of causing problems of our own for their back line.”

Exciting young defender Andrew Cook will not be available for the Warriors this weekend as the 16-year-old is playing for the England Under-19 side in a challenge game against Scotland at the Elite League play-off weekend in Nottingham.

However, Ally Brummitt should be back to bolster the Whitley defence after missing the last couple of weeks because of work commitments and experienced forward Karl Culley – with over 600 points for the club to his name – has returned to light training after injury and may feature soon.