Saturday, May 25, 2024

‘Loved every minute’: Laura Roper on 20-year club hockey career

Surbiton — After a 20-year club career, East Grinstead were 20 or so seconds from a second Women’s Premier Division final and Laura Roper’s last club match.  “That’s the harsh reality of sport that it can change with a click of a finger,” said a dejected Roper.

“It was in our control and we gave it to them,” added Roper. “That’s where it’s really frustrating. The competitor in me is really annoyed and it’s a chance wasted.”

It will still be an emotional Sunday for Roper – who will also be presented with her Hockey Writers’ Club women player of the year award – and Sophie Bray, who play their last club games for East Grinstead. “We will make the most of it and have fun. It’s been a good nine years,” said Roper.

Thus, Britain’s most decorated female hockey player will sign off after 20 years of National League against Wimbledon.

In most recent order: East Grinstead, Holcombe, Leicester, Loughborough Students and Sutton Coldfield have been been the five clubs she has given service too.

According to statistician Colin Pike, she has netted 22 goals in the top flight over the hundreds of games she played.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” she said on a sultry Saturday at Sugden Road.

Rio gold medallists Sophie Bray and Laura Unsworth

“You get to a point in life where other things take priority. I will miss some Saturdays but this sport has given me everything. I can’t thank the clubs enough and I’ve had a whale of a time.”

Roper looks set to bow out this summer, if included for Team GB at Paris 2024, with no hint of a return to coaching.

“I think I will not be involved at all,” she added. “Club hockey is a big commitment and I’ve had to make a few sacrifices. I know I can now put friends and family first and not be rushing to dinner parties after matches.”

It is more likely that she will be found on a padel court on Saturday mornings with her friend Bray.

“I will probably play padel as Sophie has got me into it. I say that but the competitor side may make me come back at some point,” she added.

“I know I am retiring from the international stuff, but I think I will be frustrated if I play club hockey.

“My brain will be telling me something but my body won’t be able to do it and I would find that frustrating. So I will leave on a high and not many can leave on their own accord.”

Total Hockey

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1 COMMENT

  1. Just an immense club and international career

    I really hope Unsy can go out on a high with another medal in Paris

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