Family affair as Becks go in search of history
BROMLEY and Beckenham, the lowest side left in either senior national knockout competition, will draw on family history as the Kent side aim to reach the Men’s Cup final for the first time in more than 25 years this weekend.
Before the clubs’ merger in 2005, Bromley were beaten by Hounslow in the 1989 final at Old Loughtonians, with both teams in the top six of the men’s top division at the time.
Bromley’s side featured Neil Berry and Graeme Barnett that day – and their sons, Tom and Chris respectively, will line up against Canterbury in the Sunday’s semi-finals of this year’s competition.
Both in their early twenties, Chris is a forward like his father – the former scored in the quarter-final win over Havant – while Tom is a defender, in marked contrast to his father – Neil having been Beckenham’s top scorer by some distance.
Forward Nick Bluett, who is also Bromley and Beckenham’s director of hockey, said: “It is fitting that we had dads play in that Bromley team 20-odd years ago. It is one thing that we are drawing on with us being a family-orientated club.
“The vibe is that we have never reached the semifinals as a merged side and we are trying to make the day a big deal.”
The club currently play at Langley Park Girls’ School in Beckenham, having made use of the pitch refit made possible by England Hockey funding.
Before the big game there are several junior contests scheduled, as well as a Kent Cup match and the club hopes to entice plenty of parents to their special day.
The all-Kent cup clash will also be a welcome distraction from the side’s attempt to get back into the Conference.
After losing to Bromley and Beckenham in the cup, Havant sit pretty at the top of the league after Bluett admitted that “we took our foot of the gas”.
Bluett says that the turning point came against Henley when they saw a 3-0 lead slip away in the last eight minutes.
Nevertheless, Sunday represents a historic moment for the nowmerged club. “It would be huge to reach the final,” added Bluett.
“Some of the guys are going to the play-offs and they were joking that it would be great to be down there on consecutive weekends. As a club, if we are to get there then it would be a massive stepping stone.”
Of the women’s sides in the Investec Cup final four, it’s likely only Surbiton will look back at their season so far with 100 per cent satisfaction.
Although they lost their long unbeaten record – they went down to Leicester when many of their stars were on international duty – they were runaway winners of the home-and-away season with just that single defeat.
They will surely be aiming for the double, even though they have used the knockout rounds so far to broaden the experience of some of their younger squad members.
However, they will not relish the long trip to Bowdon when they may feel they have bigger fish to fry in the shape of National Finals in a few weeks’ time.
Bowdon, who will also have their focus elsewhere – their play-offs will be with a view to retaining their National League Premier Division status – would nevertheless love to reach a final in what has been a tough old season.
Beeston may be the lowest-ranked side left in the women’s competition but they will relish the opportunity to savour what might have been when they entertain a Clifton Robinsons side who are travelling without their GB striker Alex Danson.
They lost out on the Conference North title by one point to Brooklands Poynton, missing out on the chance to progress through the play-offs to the Premier Division where opponents like Clifton would have been their weekly fare.
They warmed up for Sunday’s battle with a 4-0 victory over Sutton Coldfield, making them the division’s highest scorers. Clifton have been warned.
Old boys: Bromley last made the men’s National Cup final back in 1989 where they lost to Hounslow