Fam­ily af­fair as Becks go in search of his­tory

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS - By Rod Gil­mour

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

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