Taylor Cocks are preparing to pit their wits against teams in division one of the Portsmouth Netball League after securing yet another promotion.
The team – who narrowly missed out on top spot in division two this season after being pipped to the post by Chocolate Fountain Heaven – are delighted, if a little apprehensive, about making the step up next campaign.
Formed in 2003, the line-up initially consisted entirely of employees from Taylor Cocks Chartered Accountants.
Since then, players have come and gone from the business but have nearly always stayed with the netball team.
And it has become a great way for the ex-employees to stay in touch.
In fact, out of the current squad of 10, seven of them have been playing since the early days.
Captain Allison Walker said: ‘Three of us – myself, Becca Reeves and Laura Cole – still work for the firm and five others used to. So only two players in our squad have not had any association with Taylor Cocks.
‘We started from scratch in the old division six and gained promotion every other season. Although, a disappointing fact is that we have never finished top.
‘We reached the old division two about three years ago but then suffered a really difficult couple of years with injury and players moving away, so got relegated a couple of times to what is now division four.
‘Touch wood, a couple of our players have recovered from injuries and we have had a settled squad for about a year now and that has really shown in our results.
‘Having the consistency and ability to play the right players in the right positions week after week has made a huge difference.
‘We have been lucky in that – throughout our history our defence has been very consistent and that shows in our goals against stats.’
Jeri Oakley, Tara Foy and Rosie Netherclift have now been playing together for a number of years and have a great understanding.
Taylor Cocks were also fortunate that Justine Graham joined them a few seasons ago and, while she is a natural defender, she can play in almost any position.
Graham often gets the job of covering different positions but that is testament to her versatility.
Attacking-wise, they were joined a year ago by Mandy Gerrard who is a great addition to the team and has given them more versatility in attack.
She is forming a good understanding with the other shooters Becca Reeves and Rachel Lewis and also wing attack, Andrea Todorov.
And the attackers are working really well in different combinations.
Walker, who mainly dons the centre bib, added: ‘We have also recruited a new player for the winter season, Laura Cole, who will add a new dimension to the attack.
‘Laura starting working for Taylor Cocks a few months ago and I eventually managed to wear her down and convince her to join the team.
‘We have two umpires, Andrea Todorov and Mandy Gerrard, so thanks to them for umpiring each week.’
Taylor Cocks, the company, has also continued to provide the team with great support, as Walker explained.
‘The guys at work are well trained by now to ask how netball went each week and the firm contributes generously towards our kit – in the company’s colours of course,’ she explained.
‘We train every other week with Heaven Sent, although we could probably be a bit more committed to this and I am hoping that the leap to division one will give us the incentive to practice a little harder.
‘We are all really looking forward to the challenge and are very proud of reaching our highest ever position despite all being a little older, and in most cases slower, than when we started eight years ago.’