One month to showtime

League finals Surbiton
With League Finals weekend just four weeks away, we take a look at the teams who will be taking their place at this showcase event for English club hockey.

Over the next few weeks, we will meet the teams and some of the players who will be bringing their own style and pizazz to the Lee Valley Hockey Centre for a weekend of exhilarating action and uncompromising competition between the best men’s and women’s teams in the country. But first, a run-down of which teams will be in action and how they got there.

In the women’s event – the Investec Women’s Hockey League – it remains the Surbiton show as last year’s champions negotiated a season in which every team was vying to be the side that ended a historic 53 game unbeaten run. Eventually, the south-west London club did slip up – a 3-2 loss at the hands of Leicester, but that didn't un-rail Surbiton as they finished top of the tree with 15 wins, two drawn matches and just that one loss.

Holcombe will be rueing their inability to close a game out as they suffered five draws on their way to second place. Their most notable win came when they beat East Grinstead in a tense 3-2 encounter, but they will also be disappointed to have lost vital points to Slough, Canterbury and Bowdon Hightown – all teams Holcombe were very capable of beating.

East Grinstead came third, despite winning fewer games than the fourth placed University of Birmingham. They will be looking for the team to go one better than their 1-1 draw with Surbiton at the early part of the season and will also take heart from the fact that they have beaten both of the other finalists this season – Holcombe 1-0, and University of Birmingham 4-1. Less pleasing is that in the return fixture, East Grinstead lost both matches.

The students from Birmingham University have enjoyed a good season but it really came down to the wire as four teams were in a position to take the coveted fourth spot on the last weekend of regular league action. Amy Costello and Holly Hunt sealed it for Birmingham with a 2-1 win over Canterbury, to move the team ahead of nearest rivals, Clifton Robinsons.

There was a parallel outcome in the Men’s Hockey League as last year’s champions Wimbledon posted a solid seven point gap between them and nearest rivals Holcombe. The south London side endured a three match streak of drawn results in the early part of the season and a uncharacteristic 5-2 loss to second-from-bottom side Canterbury but, those results aside, Wimbledon will be a hard team to beat.

Just four points separated second to fourth, but somehow Holcombe overcame four league defeats to finish in second place. The Kent side will need to reverse their two losses to Wimbledon, but will take heart from some their league wins over Hampstead and Westminster and Surbiton.

Surbiton were the draw-masters of the season, posting eight draws, including a 3-3 nail biter on the last day of the regular league season. However, the defence will need to shore up for Final’s weekend as a 4-4 and 3-3 draw with Brooklands MU and Canterbury, were results that Surbiton would rather forget.

The final team to make up the quartet of finalists is Hampstead and Westminster. Kwan Browne and his men have made steady progress over the season with just four losses to their name. The London side will need to reverse form against all three of their competitors – they have drawn and lost to all of them this season – but they have also shown a real tenacity and maintenance of form to defeat Reading 5-4 and East Grinstead 4-3 in the past month of league action.

And so the scene is set and the next four weeks will see the eight sides preparing for showdown and the chance to secure a place in the European Hockey Federation top club competitions.

You can watch the very best go head to head at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on April 22nd & 23rd by purchasing tickets here.