CLUBHOUSE: The Inside Track

Henry Weir in action for Wimbledon against Brooklands MU in Oct 2014

With six games gone in both the Investec Women's Premier Division and the NOW: Pensions Men's Premier Division the leagues are starting to take shape. Both Reading and Wimbledon have endured tough starts to the season but are still firmly in contention at the top of the league. We caught up with England stars Henry Weir and Susie Gilbert to see what they think of the campaign so far.

Henry Weir, Wimbledon.
On the win over Brooklands MU:
We knew it’d be a tough game. When you play them it’s always hard and physical. They scrap for everything and they don’t let up. We weren’t ready for that in the first half, which is why we were 2-0 behind.
It took guts and determination to pull it back. I think we were the better side towards the end of the game but it took a bit of digging deep to get there."

On facing his brother, Brooklands MU's Louis Weir:

"It’s in your mind and it adds something to the game, definitely. I was walking off at half time thinking I’d never hear the end of it. Maybe that gave me some determination to do better in the second half! My brother played well, but I’m glad to get the win over him and his team!"

On Wimbledon's start to the season:
"It’s been an inconsistent start and with that comes quite a bit of frustration. We’ve got some quality players and a quality team but making it stick and doing it for 70 minutes has been a bit tricky. The good thing is we have played patches of really good hockey, we just need to do it for longer periods."

On the challenges ahead: 
"We’ve got three big games coming up. East Grinstead is a huge game. The way we’re playing at the moment I feel like we could beat any team but also lose to any team. They’re conceding goals but also scoring plenty; we’ll have to see what we can do on the day. 
We then play Canterbury, who beat us twice last season, then Surbiton who are just above us so the next month is massive."

On Wimbledon's aims for the season:
We’re very ambitious. We have the team to be ambitious. We want to make the top four and make the playoffs. Our aim for the first season was to consolidate but now in our second season in the Premier Division we have the personnel to really kick on. It's an aim we believe we can achieve."

Susie Gilbert file photo v Surbiton's Giselle Ansley, credit Tim Reder - 450

Susie Gilbert, Reading.

On the win over Beeston:
It was good team display. We put the game to bed quite early on and Alex [Danson] was extremely clinical up front. She had an incredible game and put away four great goals. As a team we showed we’re starting to click again. We showed more fluidity and pressed a lot better, so I think we’re very happy with how it went."

On Reading's start to the season:

"We weren’t able to have the pre-season we wanted with injuries and people coming in and out due to international commitments, but now we’re starting to get up to speed. Losing Leah Wilkinson was a big blow and some other niggles and injuries haven’t helped. No excuses, though, we’re getting closer to where we want to be every week. It’s been a slow start but we’re getting to know each other better and how everyone plays and we’re a lot closer to what we're capable of and looking forward to the games coming up."

On Alex Danson:
She’s world class and an amazing talent. It’s great to have her back and we love playing with her. She can score from anywhere and it’s a big advantage having her no matter who you're up against."  

On the challenges ahead:
We’ve got tough games coming up. Leicester is never easy and they always give us a good game. It’ll be physical and we need to take the game to them. Leicester have some really talented players. They have their style and they’re tough to play against. We have to be at our best to be able to get points from it but we’re confident as always. 
We also have University of Birmingham coming up who are strong and Holcombe who ahve been excellent. They are all big games but we need to take it as it comes and see where we end up."

Reading are in action against old foes Leicester this weekend. For all the Investec Women's Hockey League fixtures, click here.

Wimbledon go up against leaders East Grinstead. You can see all of the NOW: Pensions Men's Hockey League fixtures here.