Review of 2017: England's Men

Mark Gleghorne
With three medals for Great Britain and England’s men in 2017, the new squad have showcased an exciting style of hockey throughout the year as their road to Tokyo began. 

Bronze at the EuroHockey Championships, gold as Great Britain at the Azlan Shah Cup and World League Semi-finals in London saw the athletes move on quickly from their disappointments at Rio 2016.

Medals: 
EuroHockey Championship Bronze
World League Semi-Final Bronze

Landmark caps:
Barry Middleton 400 caps (GB & Eng)
Barry Middleton 250 caps (Eng)
Adam Dixon 200 caps (GB & Eng)
George Pinner 100 caps (Eng)
Ollie Willars 100 caps (GB & Eng)
Phil Roper 50 caps (Eng)
Henry Weir 50 caps (GB)
Ian Sloan 50 caps (GB & Eng)
Chris Griffiths 50 caps (GB & Eng)
David Ames 50 caps (GB & Eng)

Middleton 400

England began 2017 with a tour of South Africa where they faced the hosts and Germany, showing early signs of the exciting hockey to come in the year ahead with eye-catching 5-2 wins over both teams.

The trip saw nine athletes make their first international caps in the four-match series, making the victories all the sweeter. 

A number of England’s stars then travelled to Malaysia with Great Britain for the Azlan Shah Cup. The team made it all the way to the final and edged out Australia in a thrilling contest as GB enjoyed a 4-3 win, their first at the tournament since 1994.

England vs China

It was back to home ground for the summer with England hosting the Hero World Hockey League Semi-Finals at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. England impressed in their pool before defeating Canada in the quarter-finals to secure qualification to the World League Finals and the 2018 World Cup.

However they were defeated 2-0 by the Netherlands in the semi-finals but bounced back in style to beat Malaysia 4-1 and secure bronze.

Liam Sanford tackles at the Euros

England’s tournament of the year came at the EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam. The team enjoyed pool wins over Poland and Ireland and showed remarkable fight in a semi-final loss to hosts Netherlands in front of a 9,000-strong crowd.

But England again showed their steel and ability to bounce back in the bronze medal match with Germany. With ten minutes remaining and the score level at 2-2, a stunning team move saw them edge ahead, Brendan Creed found David Ames in the corner with an overhead who crossed to Mark Gleghorne who dived to put the ball into the goal and spark wild scenes.

Co-captain Phil Roper then grabbed a fourth to put the game to bed and secure England’s first European medal since 2009.

Meanwhile there were plenty of positives for the England under 21 men in their Junior EuroHockey Championships in Valencia. 

England were unbeaten in their pool as they began with an 8-0 win over Portugal as Will Calnan netted five times. They then drew 2-2 with both the Netherlands and Spain which meant they finished third in group missing out on the semi-finals only on goal difference.

The team bounced back in style from their disappointment though winning 7-1 against Ireland and 1-0 against Austria to end the tournament on a high. Calnan finished as the tournament’s joint top scorer with 11 while Rhys Smith was named Player of the Tournament. 

The squad ended the year in Bhubaneswar for the World League Finals where they again showed the determination and togetherness they have in abundance. The team were hit by illness but were able to finish second in their pool with a win over hosts India and a draw with eventual winners Australia. 

England World League

They followed this up with a good contest with Argentina in the quarter-finals but lost out 3-2 to the Olympic champions. This set up a final match with the Netherlands in the pouring rain and almost impossible conditions. The team battled to the end but were edged out 1-0 to end their campaign. 

It’s been a year of progression for the squad who have shown a fantastic team spirit and been rewarded with major medals and this will hold them in good stead going into a huge 2018.

With the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April and a World Cup campaign in Bhubaneswar in December it’s going to be a huge year of hockey in 2018 for our men!