Sticks and success

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The ‘09-’10 season has already proven to be an eventful one for the Men’s Hockey Blues. Right from the start the expectations for the coming year were set extremely high with the Captain, Richard Bond, returning off the back of a successful year playing for Brooklands HC, a team in the top flight of English hockey. Double GB Olympian coach John Shaw has also increased his involvement in OUHC. With a brand new International grade water based pitch laid at the Iffley Road sports ground, the tone was set for a tremendously promising season.

Their campaign began back in September with pre-season training centred around a gruelling training camp in Barcelona where they notched up a convincing win against Real Club de Polo, a top European side. With the University’s terms starting so late the Blues had to hit the ground running, and they were able to carry the momentum from their trip abroad forward into their opening game of the South Regional Premier League, beating Banbury HC 5-3. This also marked a hattrick on his debut for 1st year Adam Jordan. Fresh from a year spent at National League side Holcombe HC, playing alongside numerous experienced international players, he has proven indispensable in several Blues victories since.

The side continued to impress with victories against teams at the top of the Saturday league showing a relentless intensity, no doubt stemming from the team’s rigorous training schedule.

Some of the Blues’ most rewarding results have come in the BUCS games where this year they have had to fight it out with the top university sides in the country following promotion into the Premier League. The likes of Exeter and Bath, two teams riddled with England and GB caps, did not prove too much to handle for the Blues who landed respectable results against them both home and away.

With one inconsequential game remaining against Bristol, the team are set to land third place in the most competitive league in British University hockey, an astonishing performance in their first foray into top level sport. In terms of standard the standard that they compete with, and quality of talent, this ranks the Men’s Blues hockey squad as one of the best sports teams in the university. With dozens of junior international caps between the likes of Ed Perry, Andrew Thomas the goalkeeper and Richard Bond, the pedigree in side is easily clear to see.

With the second half of the season ahead of them, the hockey Blues have another packed fixture list to look forward to. The BUCS knockout draw has yet to be decided but due to their high ranking the Blues are likely to be drawn against the likes of Loughborough or Birmingham. Both sides are bound to provide stiff opposition due to their abundance of full England internationals.
Aided on a Wednesday (when BUCS matches are played) by National Premier League players Chris Newman and Ed Perry, there is no reason why the Blues should not progress to the final stages of the cup competition and cap off a great season with a win at Varsity on 2 March. In the meantime, the squad plays on a Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, so get yourself down to cheer the lads on and to witness a fast-paced exciting game with goals, cards and fights guaranteed.

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