As the Freshers’ dust settles and Oxford edges its way into Third Week, it is an apt time to cast our eye to the University Hockey Club and their exploits so far this term. Sadly, there is as yet little positivity to report.
For the Women’s Blues, promoted into the Saturday South Premiership last season, club President Siobhan Stewart harbours ambitions to make the top three in BUCS and the South League. However, despite a 1-0 home victory over Woking Ladies’, this pre-season excitement has been checked somewhat by 2-0 defeats at the hands of Barnes and Tulse Hill; the former coming in the all-important season opener on the Blues’ home turf at Iffley.
The women have, however, fared better than their male counterparts. The Men’s Blues first and only point came in a lacklustre 2-2 stalemate against an experienced London Wayfarers side.
The 4-3 defeat that followed, this time away at Old Cranleighans, meant that early October became a period to forget for the University’s premier hockey teams; the Men’s Blues sit at the bottom of their BUCS division. Of course the transitional nature of the side, with only five remaining members of last year’s Varsity squad, means consolidation would be considered a job well done.
That is not to say there has been no early season success on the Dark Blue hockey fields; squads lower down the club have shown signs to justify the early season optimism, with the Women’s Mavericks out-performing Reading Ladies’ Thirds, and the Men’s Occasionals emphatically overcoming the newly-promoted University of East Anglia 6-1, racking up their first Division Two points in the process.
Going forward, the promotion ambitions of the Women’s Second and Third XI squads are matched by the equally lofty aspirations of the Men’s Third XI, whilst the newly promoted Men’s Seconds have realistic hopes of reinforcing their Saturday league position and securing BUCS success.
Of course, as is the case with Blues sport across the University, one eye will be kept firmly on Varsity by both the Men and Women’s top squads, especially after both sides fell short last time round.
The game will be of particular importance for Joe Foster, this year’s newly-appointed Men’s Blues captain, having experienced penalty flicks heartbreak first-hand in last year’s nail-biting encounter against the Light Blues. Speaking to Cherwell about his hopes, Foster talked of his excitement for the “intriguing match up” against the equally transitional Cambridge side, whilst he also emphasised his hopes for the “very talented” crop of players that will be aiming to drive the hockey club up through the ranks to a season of success over the coming year.
It would be fair to say, though, that if the OUHC are to better last year’s 3rd
place Pitchero ranking, wins will be required, soon.