STAFFORDSHIRE men's senior hockey squad have been crowned national champions for the first time in 20 years.
They defeated Sussex 4-2 in a fiercely-contested national inter-counties final at Old Loughtonians Hockey Club.
Leek players Jared Oliver and Richard Parker have been part of the Staffordshire squad, and the victory is a culmination of five years of training and competition which saw Staffordshire win promotion back to the top division three years ago.
Since then, they have had to console themselves with silver medals in the last two finals but this year, having won their qualifying tournament at Lincoln in May, Staffordshire went one better to claim the gold.
A Staffordshire squad spokesperson said: "Drawn from eight clubs, these players obviously do not play together regularly, which makes their achievement all the more important, as they have had to trial for their places and learn to work together.
"There is an excellent team spirit within the squad, based on trust and respect – which, combined with a frightening degree of skill and speed, has produced an outstanding quality of hockey this year.
"Captain Stuart Gooderham (Burton) has been at the helm throughout those five years and was finally able to lead his players in their celebrations as the final whistle went and paid tribute to Sussex, who were worthy opponents."