Sunday, April 14, 2024

A first league title, Ashley Jackson ‘is English hockey’s greatest’

Ten years ago, Old Georgians set about instigating change in English hockey. On Saturday, as dusk fell at the club which has enjoyed multiple indoor and success over the last decade, a new side dawned as title winners. 

Surprisingly, this was a first league title win for Ashley Jackson, one of England’s greatest having left East Grinstead for HGC during the West Sussex club’s brace of Championships in 2009 and 2010.

“For me, Ashley is the greatest player this country has ever seen and there is no one who will come close in years to come and years gone by,” said Old Georgians coach Mike Hughes. “We are very lucky to have him around still.

“We had to try and sell him a dream four years ago and he came to guest for us when we were in Division 1 when he was at HGC and he was phenomenal for us.”

Jackson was instrumental again on Saturday, sitting deep and constantly in tune with who was around and ahead of him. Incisive passes were fashioned with the ease of a knife running through butter. This despite Jackson seemingly playing on half a hamstring, according to Hughes.

A return to Europe now beckons for Jackson, 35 in August.  “He’s helped me massively as a coach and he drives extremely high standards,” added Hughes. “Some people don’t like that but that’s what we needed as a group. We need to be relentless and as professional as possible.”

Old Georgians’ title charge has been garnered by virtue of an extremely tight back line, conceding only two open play goals in 18 games so far, Henry Weir and Kyle Marshall adding beef to the defence. 

Hughes added: “It’s working out well. East Grinstead haven’t scored past us in the Championship again and this is everything you’d want to win a title.

“We are trying to do it as professionally as possible. I really value indoor and this needs to be valued more by England Hockey. 

“We have a great facility at the school and I am ecstatic for everyone at the club who has put their time in over 26 years. There is a lot of history in such a short space of time.”

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