It's not all about the top four

Sevenoaks Men Indoor Squad

We've talked a lot about who'll be at the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s at Wembley, but what about some of the teams that were in the running? 

Sevenoaks' men's squad recently came fifth in the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Indoor Championship, narrowly missing out on the semi-finals at Wembley Arena. As they reflect on their indoor campaign, we thought we'd pass on some of their recent indoor history.

Sevenoaks Hockey Club has been around for over 100 years, though they only decided to enter the senior indoor tournaments five years ago in 2009/10. Since then, there's been a lot of highs and lows as they've battled to become one of the best indoor sides in the country.  

An unbeaten first indoor season in 2009 saw them breeze through the Kent and Regional qualifiers and then seal promotion to Division One by topping Division Two. The following season they were crowned Division One champions, dropping just four points along the way. Within two seasons Sevenoaks had earned promotion to the Premier Division to compete with the cream of English hockey. However, the ecstasy of indoor success was married with the disappointment of outdoor National League relegation, which saw a number of key players leave the club ahead of their first taste of Premier League indoor hockey.

From there, a tough campaign saw Sevenoaks gain just three points, and finish in the bottom two to be relegated back to Division One. Immediate promotion back to the Premier League was achieved by going the other way, dropping just three points in 2012/13. This season, having learned from their previous experience against the top English sides and with a strengthened squad, saw three wins (including notable victories over indoor heavyweights Canterbury and Beeston), two draws and three defeats, leaving Sevenoaks on 11 points - missing out on finals night by the narrowest of margins.

The junior section is hugely important to Sevenoaks HC, and Chris Barker, Nick Barker and George Torry were all selected for England at junior international level in 2008/09, representing a golden generation for Sevenoaks HC junior boys section. These players, coupled with other home grown talent and the recruitment of the vastly experienced Richard Payne, Giles Dakin, Ben Payne and Mike Holland from East Grinstead mean that Sevenoaks have a blend of youth and experience that can at times match the very best indoor sides in the country.

Making use of the external player rule, Sevenoaks welcomed Swedish international Henry Eriksson and Welsh international Owain Dolan Gray, both from Cardiff & UWIC HC, to their ranks to further strengthen their side. With other squad members Tim Warrington, Mike Shelton and James Marshall, Sevenoaks have a talented group of players expertly led by player-coach Richard Payne, whose tactical nous and knowledge of the indoor game enables Sevenoaks to compete closely in every game.

Sevenoaks Hockey Club are also enjoying a good season in the national outdoor competitions; in addition to their indoor success, they have made the last eight of the NOW:Pensions Men's Cup, taking the scalp of Conference North side Bowdon in the last 16. Sevenoaks are the only non-national League side remaining in the competition, and they have a home tie against Premier League outfit Hampstead & Westminster in the next round on ninth February.

The Men's section would do well to match the consistency of the Ladies section at Sevenoaks, where their female counterparts have long been a feature in the National League both indoors and out, challenging for promotion to the outdoor Investec Premier Division on a number of occasions. The ladies, coached by former Great Britain star Cathy Gilliat-Smith, currently lie third in the Investec Conference East, competed in the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Indoor Championships Division One and have also made the last eight of the Investec National Cup competition where they too face a tie against Hampstead & Westminster on Sunday 16 February.

Sevenoaks is a friendly, family club located just 25 minutes from Central London, that would welcome any new members regardless of ability. If you are interested in joining the club, please visit them here.

If you want to see the end of the indoor season LIVE, you can still buy tickets for the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s at Wembley Arena on Sunday 2 February.