The Inside Track

University of Birmingham Coach Phil Gooderham makes his point

University of Birmingham Women and Holcombe Men are both sides who have been active in the summer transfer market. Both put their new signings on display this past weekend as the domestic league kicked back into action for the new season. Both sides faced local derbies with bragging rights as well as points at stake. Phil Gooderham’s new look side came out 3-0 winners over Leicester whilst new Holcombe signing Sam Ward scored four times in a 7-2 win over Canterbury. Both share their thoughts on the weekend and the season ahead.

Phil Gooderham University of Birmingham Coach:

On the win over Leicester:

“We were very happy with the performance and obviously the result. We know each other very well as there are players on both sides who have played for the other, so that alongside the local rivalry makes it a really tough game. To come out on top and get a good start to the league season is very pleasing.”

On Birmingham’s busy summer:

“We’ve had a bigger turnover than usual this year. We lost quite a few including some of our more experienced players so gaining the players we have has been a big boost for us. They’ve all fitted in well and we’re very excited about the squad we have for this season.”

On the impact of new signing, Vanessa Hawkins:

“She is someone I’ve known a long time so when we found out she might be open to coming to play for us we jumped at the chance. She settled straight in and her experience, her quality on the ball and things she can teach our players on and off the pitch are a massive boost. She is a fantastic signing.”

On targets for the season:

“The 16 we put out at the weekend had never played as a team together before, so we know there is a way to go before we get things right. We still have Lily Owsley to come back in which should give us something extra up front but the team is very optimistic about our chances this season. We want to better our finish from last season. We don’t like to set specific goals, we prefer to stick to the old one game at a time cliché, but this is an optimistic group who wants to achieve things. We are aiming as high as we can.”

“The league looks very strong again this year. East Grinstead have made some good signings, Holcombe have too. Surbiton are very strong again. It could be six or even more teams competing for the top four. It is very ex citing to see.”

Sam Ward takes on the German defence whilst playing for England

Sam Ward, Holcombe Forward

On Saturday’s win over Canterbury:

“It was a dream debut for me but there were definitely improvements for us to make. It took us a while to get going and to settle into the game as a team, but once we got going we played very well and that’s why we got the goals we did. We probably deserved to win but they had chances and George Pinner made some great saves at crucial times which allowed us the platform to build into a better second half performance and in the end, the three points.”

On the crowd at Holcombe Park:

“It was nice to see a lot of people come down to watch. The Canterbury fans were very loud and certainly let us know they were there, they never lost their spirit and it was great to see such support for both sides in a domestic league game.”

On the pressure to perform:

“There’s pressure to perform as a squad like ours is always going to draw attention from outside but we’re experienced and we try to get on with our jobs and play well as a team to get the results.

The league is wide open. Wimbledon and Surbiton look strong, so do Beeston, but I think East Grinstead will bounce back from their loss to Surbiton. You’re then looking at a number of other clubs who could easily break into the group. It should be a good season.”

On his team’s aims for the season:

“We want to make the playoffs. That’d be a good start to life in the premier for Holcombe. We will have times where we’re missing players and we will need our squad players to step up. We need to pick up points when we can, continue to gel as a team and see where that leaves us at the end of the season.”

For all the fixtures in the upcoming weekend of the Investec Women's Hockey League, click here.  

For a run down of the weekend's fixtures in the men's league click here.

This season there is a Fantasy Hockey competition, run by England Star Tom Carson and his company, Young Ones. To add a bit of spice and interest to the domestic season, why not enter and test yourself against other hockey fans? For all the details click here.