Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Teddington women relish National League foray

Following a nip and tuck title race in the London Hockey Premier Division, Teddington managed to secure promotion on a nerve jangling final day of last season, with results going their way following a draw with Southgate. 

For the first time in the club’s history they will have a women’s side in the National League, competing in the Conference East and an away fixture against Old Loughtonians this weekend.

It has been a remarkable journey for Teddington women.

The club, which claims to be the oldest in the world, were a mainstay in the upper echelons in the mens’ hockey pyramid in the 1990s – winning the National League in 1995, as well as the National cup in 1994 and 1997. Despite a brief hiatus from the in the 2000s, the men have been in the league since, competing currently in Division 1 South. The women’s section is however a relatively new addition, having been founded in 1990 on the back of increasing demand from the section. 

Sara Walker, still an active and playing member of the club, recalls the initial founding of the section. She says: “It was the wives and girlfriends of members and players from the club’s mixed team, the Teddy Bears, who made up the first elements of the section.”

Back then the club played on grass in Bushy Park, and the women’s section was quick to grow. Since then the section at Teddington has flourished. The club now boasts seven sides on a Saturday, as well as fielding several Masters sides in cup competitions.

Despite this, the quest for National League for the women was a key ambition of outgoing club captain Clare Freer, the first female cptain in the club’s history. She reflects: “We have always had a successful men’s performance squad, however it was one of my key ambitions as club captain to try and achieve a greater parity between the men’s and women’s performance squads.

“We have made some financial and club wide decisions to achieve a greater equivalence in the two sections, and I’m extremely proud of what the ladies have achieved.”

Director of hockey Neil Guilder says that the development of the junior section has been vital to the progress of the section. 

“The junior section of our club is an asset we are extremely proud of, with hundreds of players in a variety of age groups,” says Guilder.  

“We have been delighted to see this feed into the success of the adult section. Indeed the women’s 1s squad featured several home grown players.”

The club has produced players such as Evie Wood, currently part of the U23 GB development squad, and Martha Le Hurray, who currently plays for Surbiton 1s. Now the club has secured National League status there is an improved pathway to retain these high quality players. 

They have secured the highly regarded Taj Dogra as head coach, after many successful years assisting at Barnes Hockey Club.

Teddington have celebrated their 150th anniversary June PIC: Mark Shepherd

The marquee addition of Ruth Gordon (East Grinstead) will add experience to the side, along with Maisy Ellis (Uni of Birmingham), Isabella Robson (Uni of Nottingham), Jessica Thomas (Uni of Nottingham) and Harriet Dougan (Beeston), the squad is developing into a strong unit.

Dogra is excited for the season ahead, “My aim is to continue the incredible work that has been put in over the last few seasons. Having spent the last four years as assistant coach at Barnes 1s and helping them make the step up from Conference East to Division 1 I’m hoping to bring similar success to Teddington.”

Total Hockey

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