It’s men against girls as Sur­biton bid to get tough

Rod Gil­mour re­veals how Sur­biton are prepar­ing for the EuroHockey Cup

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS -

SUR­BITON ladies have kick-started their bid for a third cal­en­dar year un­beaten and suc­cess in Europe – by train­ing against men’s sides.

The English cham­pi­ons played the an­nual Hockey Reyes tour­na­ment in Barcelona at the week­end, with coach Brett Gar­rard ad­mit­ting that Euro­pean suc­cess is a key cri­te­ria for the club this sea­son.

Sur­biton are the dom­i­nant force in the English do­mes­tic women’s league, hav­ing gone 50 matches un­beaten be­fore the winter break, while their last de­feat came in 2014.

But in a bid to toughen the team ahead of their EuroHockey Club Cup bid in ‘s-Her­to­gen­bosch in June, Gar­rard has fixed mid­week friendlies against men’s and boys’ teams.

Gar­rard said: “We are com­pet­ing against Euro­pean teams who are train­ing five nights per week.

“That’s al­ways an uphill bat­tle. We have 22 weeks across the sea­son and 44 train­ing ses­sions; the Dutch teams do that in six weeks.”

Gar­rard insists that his side’s con­sis­tency will be a ma­jor as­set come the sum­mer. On June 2, Sur­biton will take on Span­ish out­fit C.H. SPV Com­plutense in the Euro quar­ter-fi­nals with a po­ten­tial semi-fi­nal clash with hosts ‘sHer­to­gen­bosch, if the hosts over­come Ir­ish club Her­mesMonkstown in their last eight match.

“We try to short-cut as much as we can to get to that level,” he said. “I al­ways knew that we might fall short in cer­tain ar­eas, but the great thing about this team is that they have been to­gether for a num­ber of years. And our con­sis­tency will help us in Europe this sea­son.

“They’ve ex­pe­ri­enced it a cou­ple of times and we have a good nu­cleus of play­ers who have done it be­fore. I want us to com­pete in the sec­ond half of the sea­son but I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge of Europe.”

And play­ing against men has seen them train “harder than ever” ac­cord­ing to Gar­rard. He added: “If I feel that we need a game we will play against men. Ev­ery per­for­mance now, I don’t judge by the re­sult but how it would fare in Europe.

“Play­ing against the men and the boys poses the speed and power that you some­times don’t get in the women’s game. It’s a cat­a­lyst to toughen some of the girls up and mak­ing them sharper.”

How­ever, this didn’t stretch to the 69th run­ning of the event at Barcelona’s Real Club de Polo, which saw Sur­biton com­pete in a four-team women’s event with Premier Di­vi­sion ri­vals Le­ices­ter, the Ital­ian na­tional team and the host club.

Sur­biton looked in de­cent fet­tle in the Span­ish city.

They fin­ished the week­end un­beaten af­ter draw­ing 1-1 with RC Polo, beat­ing Le­ices­ter 4-0 be­fore a 1-1 draw with Italy saw Italy fin­ish top of the group. Le­ices­ter lost 1-0 to Italy and drew 0-0 with RC Polo.

Han­nah Martin lev­eled for Sur­biton with nine min­utes re­main­ing in their opener.

Abi Robin­son, Emily De­froand, Jenna Wool­ven all scored from open play against Le­ices­ter be­fore Sarah Page’s penalty cor­ner strike in the fourth cor­ner.

Ge­orgie Twigg then did the same against Italy on Sun­day to seal the draw.

By George! Ge­orgie Twigg has starred for Sur­biton in Spain where they have been play­ing against men’s teams for valu­able prac­tice

Cri­te­ria: Brett Gar­rard is tar­get­ing Europe this sea­son

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