MISSION completed is his overall assessment but now the curtain calls are over Kendal Ladies coach Jon Elleray wants the club to grow in stature over the close season.
Kendal Ladies – the first-ever Cumbrian team to compete at national league level – recorded a seventh-place finish in their debut season in Investec Conference North, six points above the relegation play-offs.
The Kirkbie Kendal School outfit are used to having things their own way after enjoying a rapid rise through the divisions over the last decade.
And while things have not always been plain sailing this year, Elleray insists his side have coped admirably with their new surroundings and ultimately hit all stated targets.
“We’ve had a season at this level and know the areas to work on – we have to speed our game up a bit and implement better decision-making,” he said.
“Cumbria as a hockey county is too small so the focus over the coming months is to build the club through the junior section and the seconds – it’s not all about the first-team.
“We want to recruit more players and have greater competition for places, maybe get more teams into leagues. That’s the focus from here on in, to make ourselves a bigger club.
“We knew it was going to be a tough season but we achieved our goal which was to maintain our league status.
“We’ve had to adapt. We’ve had to contend with injuries, get used to playing on water-based pitches every other week and take into account the change in umpiring.
“There have been big differences this season but I think we’ve done fantastically well considering where we’ve come from. It’s taken time but we’ve adapted well.”
Brooklands Poynton were crowned league champions at the weekend after seeing off Kendal Ladies,, finishing two points ahead of second-placed Wakefield.
Laura Evans scored two early goals as the Cheshire side stormed into a commanding lead only to be pegged back by a penalty corner strike by Beth Cordukes on 16 minutes.
Second-half flicks from Cat Savage and Helen Turner secured victory and the league title for the visitors while final day results see Doncaster relegated and Boots face a relegation play-off.
Defeat against the division’s leading light is no disgrace for Elleray, with Kendal’s survival race already run and crucial victories recorded when required.
“Saturday was always going to be a tough game – they had a lot riding on the outcome and a lot to play for,” he added.
“We were still in the game at half-time and put up a good performance. There’s no shame in losing to Brooklands Poynton and we were quite unlucky at times.
“But we have to aspire to play like these sorts of teams and I think we’re more than capable of doing so.
“We’ve been involved in our own mini league and by taking points off those teams likely to finish in the lower half of the table we were always going to be in a position to stay up.
“I believed from the start we were good enough and we’ve achieved those goals. I’m very proud of the girls.”