Northamptonshire netball team storms into premier league for first time in county's history

The women faced a gruelling weekend-long tournament to finally secure their place in the national league

Thursday, 28th April 2022, 11:50 am
Northants Storm are now in netball's Premier League 3

A netball team from Northamptonshire has won a coveted spot in the sport’s Premier League.

Northants Storm – formed just five years ago – will play in Premier League 3 next season after being crowned East Midlands regional champions which qualified them for a tough play-off tournament at the weekend.

After finishing second in their group, they won the final play-off game to take one of three prized spots in the national tier of netball.

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The club was co-founded by Stacey Howell and Kelly Washington in 2017 to ensure talented young netballers from Northamptonshire had an elite performance pathway open to them.

It has now grown into an established club with teams catering for girls from age four up to senior level.

The team plays home games at Wellingborough School but draws its talent from across the county, with players at the weekend’s tournament aged between 17 and 34.

Juniors play in Northampton and Kettering.

Coach Stacey, whose day job is in construction, said her feet had not touched the ground since their victory on Sunday.

"We started Storm because there was such a breadth of netball talent across Northants that wasn’t getting recognised,” she said.

"We just asked them to get on the bus and believe in it and we’d get there. And we have."

The team won its first game on Saturday against Wimborne Aquarians but then lost its tie against Eagles.

"On Saturday night I just told them they were going to have to go out hard in the morning and win,” said Stacey.

Storm won their tie with Eclipse 55 goals to 27 to come second in their group and take a final play-off place against Poly Netball Club who had won their own group.

The final score in the tight battle was Storm 56, Poly 51 to win storm their place in the Premier League.

"There were quite a lot of very established teams there from all across the country,” said Stacey. “So we came along and I think we shocked everyone a bit.”

"They really had to fight for it in that last game. Everyone is very sore!”

The club will also have a team playing in the regional first division next year, with their oldest squad member aged 43.

"You can’t coach experience,” said Stacey.

"The thing about netball is that you have players who get pregnant and have other responsibilities so you do have to have real breadth in your squad.

"We have such a high calibre of girls coming right through all the age groups in Northamptonshire. We’ll have three senior squads next year.”

The step-up from the regional league to the national league means away games will be in cities including Bristol and Norwich.

The team also has to find a bigger home venue that has a larger run-off and the capacity for sunken posts. Potential venues can get in touch with Stacey via email at [email protected]