Clubs get set for European action

Sam Ward in action for Beeston 480

Three English clubs will be in European action this week with Beeston’s men flying the flag for England in the Euro Hockey League in Bloemendaal, Netherlands, whilst in the women’s competition Canterbury and Surbiton travel to Biltohoven for the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup.

Beeston’s campaign is a straight knock out match with Matt Taylor’s side facing off against Belgian outfit Royal Daring on Wednesday. Although it has been a tough season for the Bees, defender Ollie Willars is still relishing the occasion:

“Royal Daring provide an exciting challenge, one in which we look forward to. They have a number of players with vast experience and we will have to be ready to deliver on the day. It’s all set to be a great game of hockey.”

Beeston exited the competition at this stage last season at the hands of another Belgian side, Waterloo Ducks, and Willars is keen they don’t suffer the same fate this time out:

“Last year we were disappointed with the way we performed but this year will be the first year where we have taken a fully fit squad with no injuries. We have been together now for a while and it is time we put ourselves out there as Europe’s best. The EHL is the pinnacle of club hockey, it’s the competition everyone wants to win. We have made lots of memories over the last few years but we are hoping this year’s memories will prove the fondest.”

In the women’s competition, Surbiton are making their first appearance in Europe after winning the Investec Women’s Hockey League title last season. Having gone the whole domestic season unbeaten there is plenty of confidence in the group as they head to Bilthoven to face Spanish outfit Club de Campo.

“Playing in Europe is huge for us.” says Surbiton’s Great Britain star Georgie Twigg. “It’s the first time we’ve made it so we’re all really excited. It’ll be difficult because they all play very different styles to the sides we play in England but we are raring to go and hope to compete well.”

Her captain at club level, Sarah Haycroft, echoes the sentiments of excitement, but also has a feeling they have nothing to lose:

“We’re really excited about Europe. We’ve been focused on our domestic season so it’s kind of crept up on us but we will be ready. There’s such a buzz about the trip and we’re training hard to really test ourselves against these great teams. It’s our first time at this level so we don’t really feel any pressure, but obviously we want to do well.”

Making up the third of the trio in Europe this week is Canterbury. The Kent side qualified after finishing top of the league last season and will take their good domestic form into a tough match with Dutch team SCHC. Their opponents boast the likes of Netherlands internationals Roos Drost, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel and Caia van Maasakker as well as German star Maike Stöckel, however Canterbury will rely on their excellent team ethic, hoping to make their way into the next round.

You can see all the details of Beeston’s EHL campaign by visiting the EHL website.

Full details of Surbiton and Canterbury’s European exploits can be found by visiting the tournament website.