The Week In Hockey – March 10

It just won’t seem the same at Sonning Lane.

Those inch-perfect long raking passes that turns defence into attack in a split second . . . the powerful runs from deep down the flanks . . . an experienced eye snapping up scoring chances in between coaching from the sidelines.

All, and more are going to be lost to Reading.

It follows the sensational news that three of the club’s longest-serving players are set to leave at the end of the season.

Player-coach Andy Watts and Jonty Clarke confirmed to The Hockey Paper this week they intend to retire, while Richard Mantell says he will probably do the same.

And, the retirement list is not confined to the playing staff, as first-team manager Chris Davey is also stepping down.

So, all in all, the end of this season will bring down the curtain on an illustrious era for the Berkshire club.

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Sarah Haycroft says that England has some “great leaders” following the women’s tour to South Africa – and she would relish the opportunity to captain the side full-time.

Haycroft led England in the opening game win against South Africa before Laura Unsworth took on armband duties during a second Test victory last week.

A replacement for Kate Richardson-Walsh has yet to be announced but Haycroft said that she needs to play consistently for her country before eyeing captaincy duties.

“If it’s me then it would be an amazing thing,” she said. “I just want to get in that team and put on the England shirt.”

Haycroft also missed Surbiton’s first defeat in over 50 matches but revealed that the loss would help the side ahead of their European campaign in June.

She added: “It was disappointing but this will be better for us. Our standards are high and we want to make sure we don’t experience it again.”

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Umpiring debate has been all the rage in recent weeks. But a warming tale for whistlers everywhere reaches In the D from Australia this week. A smart bloke who was umpiring two notoriously vocal and abrasive vets’ teams in Tasmania recently told them before push back that he wouldn’t be issuing any green cards for abuse, but instead would just deduct time. Obviously the teams didn’t fully understand what he meant as they carried on with their usual behaviour. At the 29-minute mark, however, the umpire blew for half-time – six minutes earlier than it should have been. Strangely enough, there wasn’t a peep in the second half.

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Quote of the week comes from Kwan Browne, the Hampstead & Westminster player/coach, who engineered a brilliant comeback from 3-0 down against East Grinstead to win 4-3 and keep their play-off hopes alive.

“We always try not to get too emotional,” he explained later. “We don’t questioning umpiring decisions, or arguing with each other about things that might have gone wrong.

“We talk about each line of play – defence, midfield, and attack – and the things they have got to do better to pull a match around.”

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Rod Gilmour
Rod Gilmour is the editor of The Hockey Paper, a weekly publication which covers all matches played in the men’s and women’s Premier Divisions and extensive round ups of the six Conferences below.

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