Europe

Euro Hockey 2017: Surbiton, Canterbury women and Wimbledon men lead English hockey assault against Europe’s finest

Surbiton LadiesBY ROD GILMOUR

Midfielder Georgie Twigg says that the club ethos subscribed by coach Brett Garrard will bode well when Surbiton play their EuroHockey Club Cup quarter-final on Friday afternoon.

The English women’s champions travelled to ‘s Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands on Thursday ahead of their opener against Spanish Champions CH SPV Complutense, while Canterbury also face stiff opposition in German outfit UHC Hamburg.

Surbiton’s European assault comes on the back of yet another title-winning season – as they look to overturn early defeats on the continent in recent years.

Surbiton’s record-breaking unbeaten run may have been halted in February – bringing to an end 53-games and three years unbeaten – but that proved to be just a minor blip as they finished their season by completing the League championship and Cup double in early May.

“Historically, our first game hasn’t been our best and it’s our most important,” said Olympian Twigg. “We are targeting that first game and I would love to play ‘s Hertogenbosch as I’ve never kind of played a Dutch side before. It would be great to see how we go against them.”

Georgie TwiggIn the last two years, Surbiton have lost their first game of the Euro knock-out showpiece, leaving Garrard’s side fighting it out for the lower placings.

Twigg and Co want to change all that over the weekend. She said: “Annoyingly, the last two years we have been better than those teams; we just weren’t sharp and a bit slow.

“We do have that disadvantage in finishing our season earlier in comparison to the German and Dutch leagues. But we’ve had good training, playing against the boys and GB’s development squad.”

Such has been Surbiton’s dominance, it is not uncommon for Garrard to set up training matches against club men’s sides. It is just one of the many components which has propelled Garrard’s side.

“I really value Brett as a coach,” admitted Twigg. “It can’t be easy managing the internationals, when they’re away, and the youngsters coming through. He seems to get it spot on.

“The success of the team has always been that we have had such good club players, and that has been down to Brett focusing on the development of players and the environment that he has created.

“We have a great balance of taking it seriously but enjoying it and having a laugh – that has been key too.”

Meanwhile, Saturday sees the men’s Euro Hockey League Final 4 take place in Brasschaat, near Antwerp.

Hosts KHC Dragons play Rot-Weiss Köln before HC Oranje-Rood meet Wimbledon.

The Dons were in superb touch in April’s previous round. The English champions saw themselves as underdogs for both their matches – but progressed in superb style in beating two tough German sides, UHC Hamburg and Mannheimer respectively.

In only their second season playing in Europe, Wimbledon became the first English club side to reach the last four since Reading in 2011 – and at the same time handing the men’s game a much-needed shot in the arm.

They have the armoury to reach the final, while their hopes will rest on whether they have the match practice after, like Surbiton, their season finished last month.

Match schedule (all times local for Belgium):

Saturday, June 3: KHC Dragons v Rot-Weiss Köln, 13.00; HC Oranje-Rood v Wimbledon, 15.30

Sunday, June 4: BRONZE match, 13.00; GRAND FINAL, 15.30

 

 

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