The gentlemen of Roden did something unique this season. The team from Drenthe was promoted for the third time in a row and will play in the First Division next hockey year. A remarkable achievement for the less than three hundred member association from the far north.
A leap back in time. Twelve years ago, Roden also played in the First Division. But with a location in a village and larger clubs such as Groningen and GHBS in the region, enforcement at this level proved to be a challenge. In fact, the team slowly slid off. The biggest blow followed in 2018. With the relegation to the Fourth Division, the entire team left.
Who still remained connected was Julius Labberton (27). He then left for neighbor Eelde, which then played in the Second Division. But as a trainer-coach of ladies 1, he kept warm the bond with the club of his youth. Labberton watched as Roden struggled to even get a men’s 1 on his feet. It touched his heart. So much so that two years later he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Labberton drummed up some friends and former teammates. Some of them had even played ‘Overgangsklasse’. Almost none of them still lived in Roden, but each of them had their roots in the Drenthe village. Together they wanted to put their club back on the map.
The first year in the Fourth Division was hardly any challenge for the renewed Rodense formation. Covid threw a spanner in the works of the 2020-2021 competition, but the team still advanced to a higher class after that season. Labberton: ‘With a number of good players we became champion again the following year. That was partly thanks to our criminal corner gun Sjors ter Veld. He put in about sixty last season.’
Back to the champagne
This is how the Drentenaren took part in the Second Division this year. Labberton, who in daily life works as a lifeguard at the municipal swimming pool in Groningen: ‘Our expectations were less high. In the end, we are mainly a team of friends who play hockey for fun. Only during the games on Sunday, performance is paramount. Still, we were at the top in the winter break. After that it went less. We saw our promotion opportunities quickly slipping away. Beuningen was unstoppable and De Mezen also passed us.’
The first two teams of each group from the Second Division are promoted. As a result, the championship was out of reach for Roden, but there was still a chance of promotion by finishing as runner-up. Labberman: ‘We had already lost that hope. De Mezen beat us twice this season, so they deserved to finish above us. To our surprise, they suddenly lost the last league matches regularly.’
So everything depended on the results during the last match day. De Mezen was on 46 points, Roden on 47. Both teams competed against a mid-engine. Labberton: ‘We played against Zevenaar. Ladies 1 had specially brought her game to 11.00 am so they could be there. Of course we did everything we could to win, but we were 2-2 for a long time. We kept trying to score until the last minute, but we couldn’t get past a draw. There goes our promotion, we thought. But after the final whistle ladies 1 ran onto the field. They had already heard that De Mezen had lost 7-2 against Beuningen. So we could drink champagne again.’
Thanks to this hat-trick, Roden will play in the First Division in the upcoming season. The trick for the fourth time cops, according to Labberman, is not possible. ‘This promotion was already accompanied by a lot of luck. Next year we will continue to make something fun of it. That always comes first. And we will hopefully never let that happen again like ten years ago.’