Tangerine Dream, St. Albans' story

Andy Halliday lifts the indoor championship trophy for St Albans

With the excitement building ahead of Sunday's Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals, Sam Stow caught up with some of the key players in St. Albans’ all-conquering indoor side of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Between 1985 and 1997, St. Albans won the National Indoor Hockey Championship no fewer than eight times, including five stunning, successive victories between 1988 and 1992.

Most of the side’s success came in front of vociferous crowds at a packed Crystal Palace, the Tangerines’ home away from home during a highly successful decade for the South Hertfordshire club.

On a cold and frosty morning (one perfectly suited for indoor hockey in fact!), Hockey magazine spoke to St. Albans stalwarts John Hurst, Andy Bowskill and Stephane Port to reflect on the side’s stellar run.

Read the article in full online at www.englandhockey.co.uk/stalbans.

See highlights of St. Albans' 1991 victory over Welton on YouTube below.


How did it all start?
John Hurst: It actually began 10 years earlier! The first time we got into the national tournament was 1975. We went there not expecting to come through the early rounds but we got to the final. We lost 6-3 to Hounslow, and for us at the time that was beyond our wildest dreams. Indoor hockey was just taking off then, and even in ’75 the final at Crystal Palace was on Grandstand. It certainly gave us a taste for what was to come in the next decade!

And the first win in 1985, what do you remember of that?
Andy Bowskill:
We had a talented side, but we didn’t have the pedigree of winning the event. Everyone involved will remember the final against Teddington – we scored in what you’d call overtime these days, and went into penalty strokes. We eventually finished at about 11.20pm.
JH: It seemed to go on forever. The strokes were in batches of three, and there was no sudden death. I was fortunate enough to save the last one of each set four times in a row, against the same bloke – a guy called Henry Szwinto.
AB: He was captain and supreme penalty corner and penalty stroke taker, but the poor old chap missed all four.
JH: You just get to a point when you know you’re going to save it. I could see in his eyes that his confidence was waning a bit!

How important was that win for St. Albans as a club?
AB: It was a big turning point for the club, because it directly led to playing in Europe, which was something we’d never done before.

You won again in 1988, which started that magnificent run. Did you start to feel invincible after the first couple of years?
Stephane Port:
There was a buzz about the club as soon as the indoor season started, an expectation that we were going to win. Even as a player you wanted the indoor season to start because you knew that it meant success for the club.
JH: We had players, guys like Pete Nicholson who worked on a farm in the North West, travelling the length of the country to train and play with us. As a successful side, we were giving good players opportunities they couldn’t get elsewhere. As a result, we attracted some decent talent and that helped...

Read the rest of the article in full online at www.englandhockey.co.uk/stalbans.

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