Hockey 5s starts this weekend!

Bowdon Hightown's Sally Walton scores from a penalty corner against Canterbury in the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Semi-Finals

This weekend marks the start of England Hockey’s Indoor season with the first round of Hockey 5s league matches all set for action at Bromsgrove School and St George’s Park.

In the men’s competition, East Grinstead will be bidding to retain the title for the seventh year in a row and boast their usual array of talent with Niall Stott leading the charge alongside the ever-reliable Glenn Kirkham and Mark Pearn.

Beaten semi-finalists Holcombe are back again for another assault on the Premier League title whilst Canterbury and Reading, who also made it to Wembley last time out will be hoping to go all the way and wrestle the title from East Grinstead. Beeston and Conference North outfit Bowdon as well as Bath Buccanners, promoted at the end of last season to the top flight will also be dreaming of making the finals. Surbiton will aim to continue their blistering outdoor form, indoors as they make their return to the top division.

Sevenoaks, the only non-national league side in the top flight will rely on the experience of their ex-East Grinstead contingent of Giles Dakin, Mike Holland, Richard and Ben Payne to improve on their fifth placed finish last season which left them tantalisingly close to the big day out at the finals.

There will be plenty of quality on show, not least in terms of the guest players on display. Each club is allowed two players who ply their trade outdoor elsewhere and some excellent signings will grace the Premier Divisions.

One of the most eye-catching moves is that of Euro Hockey League winner and former Loughborough Student Richie Dawson-Smith who moves from German outfit THC Harvestedhuder to turn out for reigning champions East Grinstead. Another Loughborough graduate, Dom Bowden returns from Den Bosch to bolster the Sevenoaks ranks. Bowdon and Bath Buccanneers have also looked abroad, in Germany and Holland respectively, with Leon Bernstein and Carl Alt from UHC Hamburg joining Bowdon and Christiaan Collot d’Escury and Christiaan Stroboer from Hurley heading to Bath.

The women’s premier division also gets underway this weekend with Bowdon Hightown’s mix of youth and experience keen to better their runners-up spot in last year’s showcase at The SSE Arena, Wembley. Reading, the defending champions have plenty of quality in their squad and are lead as always by tenacious skipper Emma Thomas.

Canterbury welcome back skillful Scotland star Nikki Lloyd from injury to bolster their team as they aim to avenge their semi-final shootout defeat last season. Slough too will be out for revenge as a last-gasp Alex Danson strike saw them exit at the semi-final stage last season. 
East Grinstead, Sutton Coldfield and Harleston Magpies will be looking to build on solid campaigns in 2013. There two newcomers to the top flight as Clifton, in fine form outdoor, make their way into the Premier Division, joined by University of Birmingham, who also secured promotion last season.

There are some interesting guest players, in the Women’s Premier Division, too. There are returns to former clubs for two players, as Sally Walton, now a Wakefield player outdoor, has registered for last season’s beaten finalists and former club Bowdon Hightown. Fleur Horner also makes a return to a familiar side, joining Clifton from Hampstead and Westminster. The other stand-out signing is Holcombe and England’s Maddie Hinch who will keep goal for Slough, as she did last year in their run to the semi-finals.

Hockey 5s results and stats 2014-15

13 & 14 December

Men’s Premier Division Week 1 – St Georges Park

Women’s Premier Division Week 1 – Bromsgrove School

3 & 4 January

Men’s Premier Division Week 2 – St Georges Park

Women’s Premier Division Week 2 – Bromsgrove School

10 & 11 January

Men’s Division 1 Week 1 – UWE, Bristol

Women’s Division 1 Week 1 – Nottingham Trent University

Men’s Division 2 North – Cocks Moor Woods, Birmingham

Men’s Division 2 South – Fleming Park, Eastleigh

Women’s Division 2 North – Perdiswell, Worcester

Women’s Division 2 South – The Edge, Haslemere

17 & 18 January

Men’s Division 1 Week 2 – UWE, Bristol

Women’s Division 1 Week 2 – Nottingham Trent University

31 January & 1 February

Men’s Division 2 – Whitgift School, Croydon

Women’s Division 2 – Nottingham Trent University