Crutchley calls on England to step up

Bobby Crutchley England Head Coach

We’ve been here a few times and we really like the venue. With the extra seats and all the other things going on it looks great. Those involved have done a fantastic job getting everything ready and we’re really excited for the tournament to start.”

Bobby Crutchley takes a rare moment of reflection to take in the scene around him at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre ahead of the opening match of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships.

With his side’s first task of the international calendar – qualification for Rio, achieved, the England Coach can now focus on getting his side ready to take on Europe’s best. With the confidence gained from a good World League tournament and the backing of the home crowd, Crutchley’s team are well set for a tilt at the title they won in 2009:

“We’re in a good place. Our preparations have gone well and we should be able to perform at a high level. I’ve said before the Europeans is a tough tournament but we’re one of the sides who could win it.”

Whilst the confidence is there, the England Coach is taking nothing for granted and is fully aware of the challenges ahead:

“First and foremost we have to get to the semi-final which in itself is a big task. There isn’t much room for error in the group stages; you have to be good from the start. Once you get to the semis anything can happen but we have to get there first.”

The backing of a fervent home crowd is a recurring theme in the build up to the tournament, and whilst there are some inexperienced players in the squad, Crutchley does not believe they will be overawed by it:

“With the players we’ve got I’m not worried about them losing focus because of the distraction of a home tournament. We haven’t got many who experienced it before but I’m confident it will be an advantage and help the team rather than hinder us.”

The form of the likes of Ashley Jackson, Barry Middleton, Iain Lewers and Nick Catlin makes the hosts a genuine contender. Having such talents at his disposal is fantastic for Crutchley but he has called on the rest of his squad to step up to the plate at the tournament:

“You don’t become a good team without good players and it’s well known who our key players are. We’re looking for a few more to step up and push on to become better players. We have some exciting talents: David Condon, Sam Ward, Chris Griffiths and Alastair Brogdon have really done well latterly as well as the usual names so things are really exciting at the moment.”

With such positive mood in the camp, the question inevitably turns to where England can finish in the tournament. Crutchley is characteristically determined:

“We want to win it. We want to achieve a podium finish but whilst we know what a tough tournament this is, we don’t enter competitions aiming for anything other than first place.”

The home fans will be hoping to see the England Coach and his players lifting that trophy at the end of the competition.

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