Road to Lee Valley: Amersham daring to dream

Amersham and Chalfont Investec Women's Vase Finalists 2015

With the focus falling on culmination of the Road to Lee Valley this weekend with the finals of the Investec Women’s Knockout Competitions England Hockey catches up with one of the teams looking for glory as we speak to Amersham and Chalfont who will face Oxted in the Vase Final.

A small club from Buckinghamshire, Amersham have sold approaching 200 tickets to their big day out, something that fuels skipper Sarah Wood’s nerves as well as her determination:

“We’re very excited. Nervous, too as we don’t often get to play in front of a big crowd but it’s a new experience and one we’re looking forward to. We’re really thrilled at the number of friends, family and members of the club who have bought tickets to come and see us play." she adds "It does add a bit of pressure to win but hopefully they’ll get behind us. We had good crowds in the previous rounds and it does give you a bit of extra energy in the legs, so hopefully that’ll happen this weekend too.”

The team have had a good season, finishing 3rd in their league behind strong opposition. Those challenges stood them in good stead for their cup run where their never-say-die attitude saw them squeak past Mid Somerset in the quarter-final thanks to a penalty corner goal on full time, before winning their semi-final against Yateley on penalties. Coach Shay O’Connell praised his side’s character on their way to the final telling England Hockey:

“We’ve built good momentum over the season. We had a decent league campaign and the cup gave us a bit of an incentive to keep going and look for a trophy. The quarter final was tough. We scored with the last hit of the game against Mid-Somerset but the girls came through it. The character was great. They kept believing and it was fantastic to get through. It’s so exciting for us to be playing at Lee Valley, it’s effectively Hockey’s Wembley.”

Despite extolling the virtues of his charges, O’Connell is well aware of the threat their opponents, Oxted will pose in the final:

“They score an awful lot of goals so it should be a good attacking game for the neutral. They’ve come through some tough games and we are taking them very seriously. Obviously we’re desperate to win but we’re not taking anything for granted.”

The Investec Women’s Knockout Finals give a chance to some of the lesser known clubs to have their moment in the spotlight and O’Connell is hoping a national title win will help Amersham as they try to grow and improve their whole club set up:

“It would be phenomenal for the club. We’re aiming to get a new pitch and clubhouse next season so to have a national title under our belts should show people we are a club going somewhere. It’s an exciting time to be here and we’re relishing it. It’s been a fantastic season, they’re a great bunch of girls and I hope they get their reward.”

Whatever happens on Saturday, both sides can be mightily proud of making it this far. Why not head down to Lee Valley and see who gets their hands on that coveted silverware? Full details including ticketing are here.