Hampstead and Surbiton prepare for European challenge

Hampstead and Westminster Men

Reigning Men’s Hockey League champions Hampstead & Westminster and runners-up Surbiton head to Barcelona this weekend as Spain hosts the EuroHockey League.

Both teams begin their campaign on Friday as Hampstead & Westminster take on Dutch outfit HGC at the Pau Negre Stadium at 12:30pm BST, while Surbiton will take on Real Club de Polo at 5pm BST and will expect to have to contend with plenty of local support as the sole Spanish representative.

Depending on their results the two English teams will then play later in the weekend too.

Surbiton will face a clash with either Russian outfit Dinamo Kazan or Saint Germain from France in either the quarter-finals on Sunday if they win or a ranking match on Saturday if they are beaten.

Surbiton's Alan Forsyth. Credit Simon Parker

Hampstead & Westminster’s opponents will be either German side Mannheimer or Montrouge from France and they will also play their quarter-final on Sunday or ranking game on Saturday depending on their KO 16 result.

Surbiton are coached by Mark Pearn who used to play for RC de Polo, while both he and team manager Matt Jones were involved in defeating them whilst at East Grinstead a few years ago.

“The squad are feeling quite buoyant after a good start to the season,” said Jones, who revealed that James Royce is back in contention for this weekend after being rested last weekend.

“We’ve had a couple of outstanding high-scoring performances against Reading and Brooklands MU, and it’s that sort of ruthless professionalism that we intend to take from the domestic game into Europe.”

And his counterpart at Hampstead & Westminster David Stevens said: “We’ve done our research on HGC and we’re looking forward to it. They’re a very strong Dutch team so we know what to expect.

“We’ve pretty much at full strength, and have had a good start to the league programme. It has been a pretty quick turnaround, but we’re in good form and had a good pre-season which included a trip to Brussels.”

Matches will be screened live on www.ehlhockey.tv over the course of the weekend.