By Rod Gilmour
Forget club tribalism and rally together against Europe’s finest.
That’s the message from Surbiton defender Giselle Ansley, who has called on clubs to support England’s national champions when they host the women’s EuroHockey Club Cup later this month. It is a sentiment backed by her England team-mate Anna Toman, who plays for local rivals Wimbledon.
Hockey’s equivalent of the Champions League will be hosted at Sugden Road between May 17-20 and brings together the best in Europe. It will be the first time that an English club will hold the EHCC in its new format since the tournament’s launch in 2010.
Five-time national champions Surbiton, who overcame Holcombe last weekend in the League Finals, will line up alongside representatives from European powerhouses Netherlands and Germany, as well as top sides from Spain, Ireland and Belarus.
And Ansley, 26, wants supporters from the likes of Teddington, Richmond, Hampstead & Westminster – and outside London too – to cast aside loyalties and back Brett Garrard’s side.
“It’s not just for Surbiton it’s for club hockey in England,” Ansley told The Hockey Paper.
“The more people we can get there to showcase our sport in our country and to the rest of Europe – that hockey means something in England – for us at Surbiton that’s what we are hoping to do.
“To get everyone there from the local support and everyone else would be absolutely fantastic.”
A fifth consecutive @Investec Women's Hockey League title is exactly what @giselleansley believes will provide @SurbitonL1s with the perfect springboard for next month's EuroHockey Club Cup 🍾🏑🏆 pic.twitter.com/9YNx14SzAB
— England Hockey (@EnglandHockey) April 29, 2018
Toman may be play for Conference side Wimbledon, but the England half back, who continues to impress in England colours, says that the hockey community should also join together in supporting Surbiton.
She said: “They’ve been on top for many years now and I’m happy they’ve got to host.
“We will all be there to support them and to show what England hockey can do.”
Meanwhile, Alan Forsyth, Surbiton men’s top striker, also called on supporters to cast club rivalry side and revel in the best of women’s hockey coming together.
“It’s the top teams in Europe and you want to watch them. Surbiton ladies deserve to hold it being reigning champions,” said the Scot.
Head on over to our Instagram page @surbitonladies1s for a chance to win tickets to our Eurohockey Club Cup 👍👍 #EHClub2018
— Surbiton Ladies 1's (@SurbitonL1s) April 18, 2018
“It’s a great chance to support the local community and go and watch some of the top players while Surbiton have had a great three or four seasons.”
The tournament will be spearheaded by HC‘s-Hertogenbosch from the Netherlands, the current champions and Europe’s most successful team, who are joined by fellow Dutch side AHBC Amsterdam.
Germany also have two teams, UHC Hamburg and Mannheimer HC. Spain are represented by Club Campo Villa de Madrid, Ireland by UCD Ladies HC and Belarus’ HC Victorya Smolevichi complete the line-up.
The second edition of the Junior EHCC will also take place over the same weekend.