It’s men against girls as Surbiton bid to get tough
Rod Gilmour reveals how Surbiton are preparing for the EuroHockey Cup
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