“There are people sniffing and intrigued by what’s going on,” says James Tindall, the long-serving Old Georgians HC player. “The club has a long term plan, it’s the sustainability which is key and it’s about building the excitement and encouraging people in.”
There’s no denying that jealousy is afloat when it comes to Old Georgians, how they are ruffling feathers ahead of their first Men’s Premier Division campaign and keeping social media alive with big name announcements.
Sam Ward, Dan Shingles, Ed Carson and Dan Fox (now with Guildford) all signed with the club last year. And in recent months Great Britain internationals Lee Morton, Liam Sanford and George Pinner have now entered the fray, with star turn Ashley Jackson also signing.
The hockey community likes to knock clubs different from their own. Old Georgians simply have a plan for the future and good luck to them.
“We want to get more of a partnership with the school (St George’s),” says Tindall. “We had a five-year plan and with the hockey we have done that very quickly.”
The vision is to move to their own facility and clubhouse, with two pitches and, adds Tindall, to “take on the likes of Surbiton and Hampstead. Why should they have the monopoly in that area?”
The GB Olympian says that the club now has its own identity and they could even be serious contenders in their first season in the top flight.
They certainly have the nous to succeed, as Tindall reflects on one game during their promotion run-in.
“We had such a set up that even when we were 6-1 up, we had defenders furious that we weren’t getting clean sheets,” he recalls. “That was the mentality – we always wanted to improve and move forward.”
Indeed, Shingles won player of the season in the Conference East without scoring a goal, one of four players to be voted in the best region XIs.
“Everyone came together and technically we won two play-offs but this year we have galvanised with a different mentality,” adds Tindall.
The 36-year-old says it will be an interesting challenge for him this season. “They literally don’t give you an inch. It’s the camaraderie and for these guys it is something I will do everything for.
“I can’t say I’ve got many more years. But the school has some phenomenal 14 and 15-year-olds and hopefully I can pass the knowledge on. As long as the guys want me I will keep going.”
Tindall was back on the Olympic Park in April for the first time since he played for Team GB at the London 2012 as Old Georgians won promotion.
“It’s not quite on the same site, but it is a phenomenal centre. Hockey needs a home and this is where they chose with the legacy. And at least I won something on the site!”
And there is every chance that OG’s could even make it back to Lee Valley again next year.
This article originally appeared in print in our June edition.