[img_assist|nid=969|title=Glory days|desc=Rhys Joyce hoists the HA Cup for Reading in 2009|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=388]Reading have withdrawn from this Sunday’s men’s England Hockey national cup quarter-finals with a total of eleven players unavailable due to Great Britain involvement or Great Britain super league squad training. The seven-time cup winners have also cast doubt on their future involvement in what was once England’s premier competition.
A statement from Reading Hockey Club reads as follows: “It is with great regret that Reading HC men’s first XI are withdrawing from the England Hockey Cup quarter final. With 16 players being unavailable, due to Great Britain centralised players not playing in the cup (six players), Great Britain super league training (five players) on the same day as the cup quarter final, and a number of injuries and other unavailability, we feel we cannot give the national cup the honour it deserves in not playing with a genuine first XI.
“As we do have a strong history in the cup we have battled over the last few years to continue playing in the cup but with so many players not available and the cup not a priority for England Hockey we have no option but to conceed the game and consider if we enter at all next season.”
Reading’s Sunday clash with premier league rivals and cup holders Beeston was to have been one of the highlights of the cup so far this season. The sides met in the 2009 final with, on that occasion, Reading winning 3-1 (see picture: Rhys Joyce hoists the HA Cup for Reading in 2009). Beeston’s cup-final winning team of 2010 was depleted by unavailabilty of internationals, as were their opponents Hampstead and Westminster, further giving credance to the belief that this once illustrious competition is being buffeted into the backwaters of English hockey.
In addition, since the end of the European Cup Winners Cup and the advent of the Euro Hockey League, what was once the HA Cup is no longer a route into Europe. Reading and Beeston are scheduled to meet again in the league on March 19.