Pinner relishing European assignment

George Pinner playing for GB

Holcombe will make their European debut when they face off against KS AZS AWF Poznan in the EuroHockey League this Friday night.

The Kent side who finished the regular domestic season unbeaten last time out are stepping into unknown territory as a club, however some of their number, such as goalkeeper George Pinner have been here before and are looking forward to pitting their wits against the best players in European club hockey.

“I love playing in the EHL. Some of my best club hockey memories are from EHL games.” The Great Britain stopper told the EHL website. “We came back from a couple of goals down to beat Amsterdam in the group stages as well as regularly making the KO8.”

“Unfortunately, we never made it through to the FINAL4 and that is one thing I'm desperate to achieve with Holcombe. One of my main reasons for joining the club was the vision David South and Julian Halls sold me about one day being the best team in Europe.”

The reigning EHL champions wait in the second match of the pool stage for Holcombe. Dutch Masters Kampong, with their galaxy of stars will prove a stiff test. Despite the pedigree of the opposition, Pinner is looking forward to the challenge:

“Playing Kampong will be a fantastic experience for us as players and the club as a whole. Three seasons ago we were trying to get into the top tier of English hockey after several near misses."

“So to be playing the champions of Europe shows how far the club has come and is testament to the hard work a number of people have out in behind the scenes of the years.

With Ireland's FIH Goalkeeper of the Year David Harte between the posts and Dutch stars Sander de Wijn, Robbert Kemperman and Constantijn Jonker in the ranks along with Bjorn Kellerman, Martijn Havenga and Quirijn Caspers the Netherlands outfit are not short on quality. Their season got off to a slow start in the Hoofdklasse with a 0-0 draw against Almere before losing to Amsterdam. Big wins over Tilburg (6-2) and Qui Vive (10-0) showed their quality and their clash with the English side is arguably the standout contest of the round.

The Great Wall of Ipswich George Pinner

First up however, are Polish outfit Poznan. With five wins from six outings so far in the Polish league, AZS AWF are in strong form at this early stage of the campaign. They have appeared in the competition before, back in 2009, exiting in the first round. Only one player – Artur Pacanowski – is still around from that squad. Top goalscorer Mikolaj Gumny, Patryk Pawlak and goalkeeper Rafal Banaszak are the players to watch.

Despite being the new kids on the block in the competition, Pinner is adamant Holcs are not just going along to make up the numbers:

“We aren't just coming along for the ride. We have shown so far this season that when we play to our potential we are hard to break down and clinical going forwards. There is no doubt that we will have to be on form if we are to get through but we are confident that if we stick to our game plan we can give a really good go.”

You can follow all the action, including live streaming of all the matches from tomorrow on the EHL website.