BEN Rhydding Hockey Club have made a cracking start to the season in the Yorkshire & North East Men's Premier Division.

They are five points clear at the summit, and went into the Christmas break on a high with a thumping 10-2 win at mid-table Whitley Bay & Tynemouth at the weekend.

Their only dropped points all season came last month in a 2-2 draw at Sheffield Hallam 2.

Whitley Bay was their best win of the season, but there have been other standout results too, not least the 6-2 victory away to Brigg at the start of October, and a 5-0 home success against Newcastle University last month.

Overall, they have won 10 and drawn one of their 11 games so far, and sit on 31 points.

But nobody should assume Ben Rhydding have promotion in the bag just yet, according to first team manager Hugh Lorimer.

He said: "We're clear at the top, just like our men's second and third teams in their respective divisions.

"But we've got to play Lindum twice in the second half of the season, and they're second with a game in hand.

"I think promotion will boil down to those two games, as we're only expecting the top team to go up.

"That's because we'd go into the England Hockey leagues and the Men's Conference North, and they're likely to only take the winners of our division and the team that comes top of the North West Men's Premier."

The men restart their season on January 15, with the firsts at home to fourth-placed City of York.

The women don't resume until February, but the season has been more of a struggle for them.

But they do play at a higher level, in the second tier of English hockey.

They are currently third-bottom of the Vitality Women's Division 1 North, with just one win from their opening nine games, 2-1 over rock-bottom Belper on November 13.

They have drawn three games so far though, which will give them hope of avoiding the drop going into the second half of the campaign.