Clifton Robinsons' perfect day

Danson and Issy Palmer celebrate a Clifton Robinsons goal

Clifton and Robinsons: Two fine, established clubs from the West who have long shared a bond, supporting each other in cup and league fixtures alike. The support is so strong, they practically moved in at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre last summer as they had three teams in three different finals over three days. From these strong foundations, the clubs have no undergone a merger, becoming Clifton Robinsons. With the women’s side in Investec Women’s Premier division action on Sunday it became a day of celebration for the newly formed Clobbies.

After some neat promotion around 700 people came down to watch them take on Reading and as luck would have it, Alex Danson, Olympic gold medallist was making her Clifton debut against her former club:

“What are the chances?” Danson told England Hockey. “I was only able to play one game this half of the season and I couldn’t believe it was against Reading! I know some of them still and it was really friendly and really nice to see them before the game. It was a good game and I really hope Reading pick up. I think they showed enough to show they can get results. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of friendly faces but of course in my first game for my new club it was great to get three points.”

Danson, who has been there and done it her decorated career, praised the work of the club’s volunteers after their sterling work produced what must surely be a record for a crowd in a women’s league game.

“It was a fantastic day and having 700 people coming down was amazing. There was a mix of local clubs, local schools and all sorts of other people. The club’s volunteers did a great job of promoting it. It was such a great atmosphere, the ground was full all over and as it was my first game I was blown away. I asked if we had this every week but it seems not!”

Danson’s first game for her new club yielded a 5-1 win against her former side. Despite a long association with Reading her reasons for moving were simple:

“I’ve played with Sarah Ellis [Clifton goalkeeper] for something like 17 seasons. Apart from when I played in Holland we’ve always played together. When she moved to Clifton we were having some dinner with some friends and she sort of talked me round! I’ve played at Clifton many times and it’s an amazing club with some truly brilliant volunteers. The junior section is thriving and now with the merger with Robinsons there’s a men’s and women’s section in great shape. It’s a lovely atmosphere and they’re a really competitive side. They’re always in and around the top five and they’re pushing again this season and beyond so it’s a very attractive club for me.”

With Ellis and international team mate Joie Leigh in the ranks and Issy Palmer, a team mate of Danson’s at the Junior World Cup in 2001 the Great Britain star has seamlessly slotted in. Despite her other commitments ruling her out of club action until after Christmas she is relishing the chance to throw herself into league action after the festive break:

“I haven’t played club hockey for a long time.” said the England star. “Since the Olympics I haven’t really played. I’ve missed it so much. I haven’t played much club hockey because of my international commitments but now I have a chance I want to play club hockey as much as I can.” she adds “I just love playing and being able to get involved in the national league again it’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to playing home and away for Clifton and getting back out there. Because of my commitments I can’t play again till after Christmas but I hope to play all the games after that and I can’t wait!”

What a day for Clifton Robinsons: A huge crowd, a great celebration of the merging of the clubs, an Olympian makes her debut and they win 5-1. They’ve probably had worse days!

You can read a full round up of Clobbies' big day in the new Hockey Paper, launching this Wednesday. Everything you need to know is here.