7 December 2015
Our next edition will be uploaded during
the afternoon of Monday 14 December
World League Finals
Regional League Review
Monday 14 December – Hockey Talk published as usual, with reports from the Indoor Leagues. NB: Upload time may be later than usual.
Monday 21 December – No Hockey Talk but there will probably be images from a regional indoor tournament on our Pictures pages.
Monday 28 December – No Hockey Talk
Monday 4 January – No Hockey Talk
Monday 11 January – Hockey Talk published as usual, with reports from the Indoor Leagues. NB: Upload time may be later than usual.
Monday 18 January – Hockey Talk published as usual, with reports from the Indoor Leagues.
Monday 25 January – Hockey Talk published as usual, with reports from the Indoor Leagues.
Monday 1st February will see us return to our usual format until the end of the season. There are two big occasions we will be reporting on in that edition – the annual Hockey Writers’ Club Awards and the Indoor Finals at Wembley.
DOES ANYBODY UNDERSTAND THIS FORMAT?
“In the Hockey World League Finals in India, Great Britain are through to the last eight” came the news on BBC television. Great! But the reality is that the news made as much sense as announcing that there had only been two survivors from a tandem bicycle crash. If GB had finished bottom of their pool they would still have been through to the last eight. Indeed, that is what India had done in Pool B and it was them that went on to deprive Great Britain of a place in the Semi-finals.
Having quarter finals in an eight team tournament makes no sense whatsoever. It makes the pool stages a complete irrelevance. We may be disappointed at GB women losing their opening match against Argentina, but so what? The end result could be that GB win the tournament and Argentina finish bottom. One is even tempted to ask whether any of the coaches actually tell their players to look after themselves in the pool matches so that there is a 100% fit and injury free squad for the knock-out stages?
At Hockey Talk we are in the business of selling hockey. It is a great sport and it probably does not get the coverage it deserves. But it does not help when you use strange formats and even stranger language. A few days earlier the BBC had announced the GB had won their match in the World League Finals. Did these mean they had won the competition? Of course not. Nor are not alone in struggling with expressions associated with the World League. Take as an example “Finals of the Semi-finals” and the like. How do we explain what that means when addressing people outside of the hockey family?
We are not going to open ourselves to accusations of “sour grapes” by reminding readers that under other format topping your pool would put you through to the semi-finals. As we said once before, perhaps having quarter finals in a tournament with eight teams is simply a match too far.
GB MEN FALL AT THE FOURTH FENCE and Women off to slow start
The Oxford Hawks’ ‘keeper parries away a penalty corner shot during his side’s visit to Havant in the South Premier League on Saturday
There was massive disappointment for Great Britain men in the World League in Raipur, India, after they had finished top of Pool A.
GB had sailed through their pool, with a win against Canada (3-1) and an amazing 2-5 win over Australia. They finished the pool top after a 3-3 draw against Belgium. The draw had been the result of an early second-half penalty stroke conversion by Tom Boon when GB was 3-2 ahead.
We have more to say about the World League format in our opinion piece below, but GB now played India in the quarter finals. India had finished bottom of Pool B.
India went into the second half with a 0-1 lead after Raghunath converted a first half penalty corner, and increased their lead to 0-2 thanks to a goal from Talwinder Singh early in the second. GB’s only goal of the match was scored by Simon Mantell from a penalty corner, to finish the match 1-2 in India’s favour.
GB’s defeat pitted them against Argentina in the 5th/6th place play-offs. Argentina had finished second in Pool B, but had failed to reach the semi-finals after being knocked out by Belgium in their quarter-final match.
GB went into the second half 0-3 down due to some fine penalty corner conversions, two of which came from their Pedro Ibarra. Simon Mantell pulled one back from a penalty corner in the 50th minute, but Gonzalo Peillat scored his second penalty corner to restore the margin within a few minutes.
GB’s second goal of the match came from a field goal from Phil Roper to end the match 2-4 to Argentina.
The final was won by Australia with a 2-1 win over Belgium. The third place had to be decided on a shoot out after The Netherlands came back from 3-5 down to draw the match 5-5. The match was decided after a shoot out. It ended 2-3 in India’s favour after Sreejesh Parattu successfully defended his goal three times.
The will be huge disappointment for GB after topping their pool. However, the squad was without a number of key players who were being rested.
WORLD LEAGUE FINAL POSITIONS:
6. Great Britain
Women’s World League Finals
At the time of going to press, GB women had played two of their Pool B matches and were due to play their third on Tuesday (8 December).
It has been a disappointing start for the women, with only one point from two matches. But, looking at the experience of the men, one is tempted to question the importance of the pool stages.
GB’s first match was against the hosts, Argentina, and saw Lily Owsley score after only five minutes. But penalty corners seem to have become a bit of an Argentine forte, and Maria Granatto and Agustina Habif gave their side the win with a corner conversion either side of half-time.
In GB’s second pool match, played on Sunday, both goals came within a minute of each other. Helen Richardson-Walsh gave GB a brief lead from a penalty corner just before half time, but it received an immediate reply from Mengyu Wang to finish the match 1-1.
GB are currently third in the Pool, on the same points as bottom placed China. Australian lead the pool on maximum points, followed by Argentina. The Netherlands are currently top of Pool A.
FACES OLD AND NEW COMPETE FOR PLACES IN THE CONFERENCES
Unbeaten this season in the Midland Women’s Premier League is University of Birmingham 2s. They are four points clear but, as explained in our introduction, they cannot be promoted. Their first team is having their best season ever, currently leading the Investec Premier Division.
The team in second place is Boots, who themselves are four points ahead of Cannock.
This is an interesting division because it has a few 2nd teams in it, including Beeston, Sutton Coldfield and Leicester. However, none of them can touch the University or results, with an 8-0 win against Sutton on the opening day of the season, followed by a 5-1 win against Beeston.
Currently it is Boots who are looking the most likely promotion prospect. They left the Investec Women’s Conference North after finishing last in the 2014 relegation play-offs.
1. University of Birmingham 2s 25 pts GD +27, 2. Boots 21 pts GD +13, 3. Cannock 17 pts GD +13.
The top of the North Men’s Premier Division is really tight, with one side on 27 point, three on 24 points, and one on 23 points.
For a league that suffers more than most from bad weather, we are pleased to report that every team has played 12 fixtures.
The table is currently led by Sheffield University Bankers. The club is a reminder of how important banks used to be in hockey in the UK, although the currently club (as the name suggests) is an amalgamation of the old Sheffield Bankers club with the Sheffield University Saturday sides. They are three points ahead of Oxton, who are on the same points as third placed Leeds and fourth placed Formby.
Interestingly, fourth placed Formby has the only unbeaten record in the North Premier, but they’ve managed to draw half of their twelve matches.
Both the Bankers and Formby have relatively recent experience in the England Hockey League. They played in the Conference North. In 2009-2010, Formby had a truly terrible season, which saw them relegated They finished bottom, 14 points beneath……… Sheffield University Bankers, who themselves were relegated that season as a result of the play-offs!
We must not forget, of course, fifth placed Brooklands MU 2s who, as a second team, are not qualified for promotion.
1. Sheffield University Bankers 27 pts GD +24, 2. Oxton 24 pts GD +29, 3. Leeds 24 pts GD +19, 4. Formby 24 pts GD +14, 5. Brooklands MU 2s 23 pts GD +10.
Doncaster lead the charge at the top of the North Women’s Premier League, four points ahead of second placed Timperley. Kendal are a point behind them, and they are a point ahead of City of York. Both Timperley and Kendal have a game in hand, and for that reason we should also mention fifth placed Kirkby Stephen, who are two games in hand and theoretically could move up into third. Actually, for a club based in a small town in rural Cumbria (pop: 1,822), KS has done very well.
As we have seen elsewhere, some of the top clubs in the regional leagues have some impressive scoring records. Doncaster has a rate of just short of four per match, with one of their biggest wins being against City of York, who they beat 9-1.
Doncaster actually has quite a distinguished history in the England Hockey League. They finished fifth in the Premier Division in 2004 but struggled for a few seasons before being relegated on three years later. They departed for good – well, perhaps not for good, when they finished bottom of the North Conference last season.
Kendall also has recent experience in the Investec Women’s Hockey League, albeit relatively brief. They suffered the misfortune of having to take part in last season’s play-offs after they suffered a points deduction, and were relegated as a result.
1. Doncaster 28 pts GD +30, 2. Timperley 24 pts GD +12, 3. Kendal 23 pts GD +12, 4. City of York 22 pts GD -4, 5. Kirkby Stephen 19 pts GD +13*
*Included because they have two games in hand.
This is traditionally regarded as a particularly strong neck of the woods when it comes to hockey, and it is a sobering thought that seven of the ten England Hockey League’s Premier Division would be related to the South if they had a few seasons with a run of bad form.
There are two clubs at the top of the South Premier 1, both of whom are former England Hockey League sides. Both include former internationals, who are really knocking them in for both clubs – Indian international Sandeep Singh for Havant and James Tindall for Old Georgians. This time last season we were fairly convinced that one of these sides would be promoted, but it was Sevenoaks who finally made the cut.
Old Georgians currently has the edge on Havant, thanks to goals scored. Both have 25 points and both have a goal difference of +30. OG’s have scored six more goals are so currently claim leadership. But there are two side’s within striking distance and, would you believe, they are on the same points as each other and with the same goal difference! Old Cranleighans currently has the upper hand over Spencer by virtue of a single goal scored.
We should mention Oxford Hawks, who although in fifth place an six points shy of the top, are the only team to have beaten OG’s this season, and we saw them hold Havant to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
1. Old Georgians 25 pts GD +30 GS 51, 2. Havant 25 pts GD +30 GS 45, 3. Old Cranleighan’s 22 pts GD +10 GS 29, 4. Spencer 22 pts +10 GS 28.
The top women’s league in the South rather modestly calls itself simply Division One, which we quite approve of. The proliferation of the word “Premier” can confuse people, particularly when clubs get relegated to a “Premier” division.
The runaway leader is Surbiton 2s, who cannot be promoted. A whole eight points behind them is Barnes, the inheritors of the great Hounslow and Ealing legacies, with Southgate and Horsham two points behind them.
Under the name Barnes Hounslow Ealing, Barnes almost grabbed Premier Division status a few seasons’ back. They were relegated in 2014 in the same play-offs that saw Boots leave the Investec Women’s North Conference, but a few seasons before that they had looked genuine contenders.
Despite the disparity in points, Barnes has stolen the only points off Surbiton so far this season, with their match ending 1-1. Barnes has also beaten its two closest rivals.
Fourth place Horsham is a recent departure from the Conference East, having played there with mixed success for a number of seasons. The club was relegated as a result of the play-offs at the end of last season.
1. Surbiton 2s 28 pts GD +21, 2. Barnes 20 pts GD +7, 3. Southgate 18 pts GD +14, 4. Horsham 18 pts GD +6.
There are five regional leagues and at the end of this season the champions of those five leagues will find themselves in the heady heights of one of the England Hockey League Conferences. There may be some exceptions to that rule. Regulations prevent a 2nd team from being promoted. Only one team is allowed in the England Hockey League.
Some of the clubs fighting for promotion will be familiar to followers of the England Hockey League. Indeed, some of them have been counted amongst our top clubs in past seasons. Take for instance Havant, who we visited on Saturday. They were League Champions three times in the 1990 but were relegated to the South Premier at the end of the 2013-14 season.
In fact, very few of the potential promotion candidates will be unknown, either because they have been in the England Hockey League before, or because they have had a women’s team in the League.
So let’s have a look at each of the regional leagues, and see what the current positions are.
Promotion hopefuls, Old Loughtonians, has some of the
country’s best club facilities at its Luxborough Lane base. It was
chosen as a training base for the 2012 Olympic hockey.
The top of the East Premier A is just about as tight as it could be, with only two points separating first from fourth. And there are a lot of familiar names among the contenders.
Top of the table, but only by two points, is Old Loughts, who made their exit from the Conference East at the end of last season. But they are being chased hard by two clubs who were also contenders for promotion but didn’t quite make it.
St Albans is second, split on goal difference from Wapping in third. Bringing up a very close fourth is City of Peterborough. There is then a six point gap between them and fifth placed Bedford.
One benefit of promotion of some of these clubs to the England Hockey League is their truly excellent facilities. Old Loughtonians has one of the best club grounds in the country (and it was used as a training facility for the 2012 Olympics), whilst Wapping use the Lee Valley H&TC as their home ground. Lucky them!
1. Old Loughtonians 26 pts GD +11, 2. St Albans 25 pts GD +17, 3. Wapping 25 pts GD +13, 4. City of Peterborough 24 pts GD +17).
The top of the East Women’s Premier Division is a little more strung out than the men’s, but there are a number of clubs who are in with a chance.
West Herts became an England Hockey League club when their men were promoted two seasons ago. They could be joined by their women who are leading the table by two points, ahead of Bromley & Beckenham.
West Herts are a relatively free-scoring side, with a season opener against Tunbridge Wells where the score was 7-1 in their favour, followed by a 6-0 result against Harleston Magpies 2s a fortnight later. They generally find the going more difficult against the sides higher in the table, but only one defeat in 11 games shows how good they are.
Behind West Herts is Bedford, with Norwich Dragons and Cambridge University bringing up the rear. Looking further down the table, it seems that the Old Loughts’ revival does not extend to their women. They are currently in seventh, 13 points adrift of the top.
1. West Herts 28 pts GD +27, 2. Bromley & Beckenham 26 pts GD +18, 3. Bedford 25 pts GD +13, 4. Norwich Dragons 23 pts GD +13, 5 Cambridge University 22 pts GD +9.
The Midlands Premier is currently being led by Leek, who were relegated from the Conference North at the end of last season. They are four points ahead of Nottingham University, but have played one less match. Another former England Hockey League side, Khalsa, is in third place.
Leek seem to have really imposed themselves on the league, with a huge goal difference of +42, double that of the second-placed team. This is a result of some high scoring results, of which their 9-0 win against mid-table Stone is an example. They are yet to meet the University, who themselves recorded a 9-0 win, against Northampton Saints.
1. Leek 34 pts GD +42, 2. Nottingham University 30 pts GD +21, 3. Khalsa 29 pts GD +26.
We were at Dukes Meadow in 2014 to see the relegation play-off
between Barnes and Boots. Although Barnes won this match, both
clubs went on to be relegated to their regional leagues
There is always a lot of interest in who might get promoted from the West and with good reason. A promoted club would certainly find themselves in the Conference West, a Conference which currently stretches from the London suburbs to South Wales and Devon, and up to Birmingham. It has proven to be the Conference with the most travelling.
With the above in mind, the current Conference West clubs can breath a sigh of relief. The front runners are all from the Bristol area, with one club in the West GoCre8 Premiership eight points clear at the top.
The leader is Bristol University who, if promoted, would be newcomers to the Conference. A more familiar name would be that of Firebrands, who are in second place. Two points behind them is Robinsons, another Bristol based club who seem to have been threatening to break into the England Hockey League for several seasons.
Whilst we wish the leading two clubs the best of luck, it may not have escaped reader’s notice that two of these clubs’ women’s sides have struggled in the Investec West Conference this season, and both could find themselves relegated.
For the benefit of those clubs in the London and Birmingham areas who might be concerned about trips down to Cornwall, Truro are currently in eighth place, fourteen points behind the leaders.
1. Bristol University 28 pts GD +17, 2. Firebrands 20 pts GD +8, 3. Robinsons 18 pts GD +7.
Everything we said about the West Men with regard to travelling applies equally to the West Women. Unfortunately we cannot offer the same reassurance regarding travelling. The table is currently being led by our old friends from Exe, who are based just off the M5 at Exeter.
Exe is five points head of second-placed Clifton 2s, who are obviously not included in the promotion race. That puts Exe seven points ahead of their next nearest rival for promotion – Cheltenham.
Exe seem to have been around for ever, but they’ve actually only been going since 2007, as a result of an amalgamation of Exeter Ladies and Exmouth hockey clubs.
1. Exe 30 pts GD +16, 2. Clifton 2s 25 pts GD +21, 3. Cheltenham 23 pts, GD + 13.
Looking through our archives we were surprised to find a few pictures of promotion hopefuls playing each other in the days when they were in the England Hockey League. This image dates back to 2008 and shows a match at St George’s College between Old Georgians and Firebrands.
MEANWHILE, BACK HOME, IT’S SUCCESS FOR ENGLAND WOMEN
The England players who were not with the GB Squad in Argentina, attended the BT Sport Action Woman of the Year Awards, where they were runners-up behind the England women’s football team. This was in recognition of their win in the European Championships this year.
Third place went to Rachel Atherton, who this year became the world downhill biking champion.
This is the second recognition that the England Women have received in recent weeks. We recently reported on their success in the Sky Sports/Sunday Times Sportswomen Awards.
Just a reminder that the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is being broadcast on 20 December. GB men have previously won the Team of the Year Award. How about the award for the England women?
NEW VENUES – NEW RULES – INDOOR HOCKEY IS BACK!
Kettering Arena is the new venue for the Men’s Premier Division,
but it was previously used for the Women’s Semi-finals
The England Hockey Indoor Leagues make a return this weekend with the first matches in the two Premier Divisions.
There is the welcome return to the old 6-aside format, plus two new venues. The Women’s Premier will take place at Telford Langley School, whilst the Men’s Premier will move to Kettering Arena.
There will be some disappointment about not using the previous season’s venues at Bromsgrove School and St George’s, both of which were excellent. However, the last few seasons has seen Kettering Arena used for the Women’s Semi-finals, and it is a good venue. (This season, both the men’s and women’s semi finals will take place at Wembley Arena).
It is notoriously difficult to predict how indoor sides will perform. Which guest players will be joining them? Have they key players not available? There are a whole host of factors which can make a difference.
Eyes will particularly focus on the two champions, Bowdon Hightown and East Grinstead, both of which have lost key players and are not enjoying good seasons outdoors.
Below is a list of teams taking part in the Premier Divisions, with their last season finish shown alongside. The top four go through to the semi-finals, and we also show how they got on there.
Beeston – finished seventh
Bowdon – finished sixth
Canterbury – finished third and losing finalists.
East Grinstead – finished first and winning finalists.
Holcombe – finished fifth
Loughborough Students – promoted from Division 1.
Reading – finished fourth and losing semi-finalists.
Sevenoaks – finished second and losing semi-finalists.
Wimbleldon – promoted from Division 1.
Bath Buccaneers and Surbiton were relegated at the end of last season.
Bowdon Hightown – finished first and won final.
Canterbury – finished fourth and losing semi-finalists.
East Grinstead – finished second and losing finalists.
Leicester – promoted from Division 1.
Reading – finished fifth.
Slough – finished third and losing semi-finalists.
Surbiton – promoted from Division 1.
Sutton Coldfield – finished sixth.
University of Birmingham – finished seventh.
Harleston Magpies and Clifton were relegated at the end of last season.
Bowdon Hightown’s Michelle Liptrot holds the winner’s
trophy aloft after January’s indoor finals at Wembley Arena
East Grinstead captain Niall Stott receives the winner’s trophy from Philip Kimberley at the end of the men’s final at Wembley in January
Timetable for Super 6s 2015-15 League Season
12th/13th December 2015:
Men’s Premier Division at Kettering Arena (details above)
Women’s Premier Division at Telford Langley School (details above)
9th/10th January 2016:
Men’s Premier Division at Kettering Arena (details above)
Women’s Premier Division at Telford Langley School (details above)
Men’s Division One at University of West of England. Taking part: Brooklands MU, Cannock, Doncaster, Old Loughtonians, Sheffield Hallam, Southgate, Surbiton, Bath Buccaneers, West Herts.
Women’s Division One at Nottingham Trent University. Taking part: Bristol Firebrands, Brooklands Poynton. Buckingham, Clifton. Harleston Magpies, Holcombe, Olton & WW, St Albans, Wakefield).
Men’s Division Two North at Oaklands, St Albans. Details of teams taking part will be in a later edition.
Men’s Division Two South at Flemming Park, Eastleigh. Details of teams taking part will be in a later edition.
Women’s Division Two North at Perdiswell Leisure Centre. Details of teams taking part will be in a later edition.
Women’s Division Two South at Whitgift School. Details of teams taking part will be in a later edition.
16th/17th January 2016:
Men’s Division One. See 9th/10th January for details
Women’s Division One. See 9th/10th January for details
23rd/24th January 2016:
Men’s Division Two at University of West of England. Details of teams taking part will be in a later edition.
Women’s Division Two at Richard Dunn Sports Centre, Bradford. Details of teams taking part will be in a later edition.
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