News for 14 October 2013

All the news for Monday 14 October 2013


Grunwald & Dragons join EHL KO16 party


Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek

The first weekend of the 2013-14 Euro Hockey League season has drawn to a close in Barcelona, where a total of eight teams sealed berths at next Easter’s magnificent KO16 tournament in The Netherlands.

Polish champions WKS Grunwald Poznan and KHC Dragons of Belgium claimed the two remaining KO16 places on offer at the event in Spain, defeating Kelburne (SCO) and Dinamo Kazan (RUS) respectively.

They joined Harvestehuder (GER), Beeston (ENG), RC Polo (ESP), Surbiton (ENG), Oranje Zwart (NED) and Club de Campo (ESP) as confirmed participants at KO16, with a further eight places up for grabs at the upcoming Round 1.2 tournament in Lille, France.

Here is a quick summary of the action.

Pool D: Körper inspires Harvestehuder fight-back against Beeston
Germany’s Harvestehuder THC overturned a two goal deficit to claim a superb 3-2 victory over English champions Beeston in the first match of the day.

Austrian goal-machine Michael Körper was the star of the show, netting a penalty corner and a brilliant field goal to help the team from Hamburg claim their second win in two days.

The result means that Harvestehuder will go into the draw for KO16 as the winners of Pool D, subsequently avoiding the winners of the other pools in EHL Round 2.

KO16 Qualifiers from Pool D –1st: Harvestehuder THC (GER), 2nd: Beeston HC (ENG)

Pool E: Padros double sinks Surbiton
In what was the 250thmatch in Euro Hockey League history, Spanish champions and local boys Real Club de Polo de Barcelona proved themselves to be too good for England’s Surbiton, cruising to a 3-0 win in a fiery Pool E encounter.

Roger Padros netted twice to help his team to victory and seal a first place finish in the pool ahead of their English rivals and fellow KO16 qualifiers.

Padros took his weekend tally to four goals following a double strike against Austria’s SV Arminen on Saturday.

KO16 Qualifiers from Pool E – 1st: RC Polo (ESP). 2nd: Surbiton HC (ENG)

Pool G: Mikula hat-trick sends Grunwald through to KO16
Veteran Poland striker Artur Mikula rolled back the years as WKS Grunwald Poznan sealed their place at Easter’s KO16 event with a thoroughly deserved 4-1 triumph over Scottish champions Kelburne KC.

The hugely gifted 35-year-old scored three times to confirm Grunwald’s place as runners up behind Oranje Zwart (NED) in Pool G, with Tomasz Dutkiewicz also on target for the champions of Poland.

KO16 Qualifiers from Pool G – 1st: Oranje Zwart (NED). 2nd: WKS Grunwald Poznan (POL)

Pool F: Dragons overcome Kazan to reach knock-out stages
2012-13 EHL Silver medallists secured their place at KO16 thanks to a 3-0 victory over Russian champions Dinamo Kazan in the final match of the weekend.

A stunning solo goal from Spaniard Alvaro Iglesias got the ball rolling before Loick Luypaert and a late strike from Louis Rombouts ensured that the brilliant Belgians would feature in the knock-out stages.

The Dragons victory sealed a second place finish in Pool F ahead of their Russian counterparts, with Spain’s Club de Campo finishing top of the pile courtesy of their victory over the Belgians on Saturday.

KO16 Qualifiers from Pool F – 1st: Club de Campo (ESP). 2nd: KHC Dragons (BEL)

The second phase of EHL Round 1 takes place in less than two weeks’ time at Lille MHC in France, where a further 12 teams will be fighting out for the remaining eight KO16 berths. Some of Europe's biggest clubs will be in action in Lille, including Jeroen Hertzberger’s H.C. Rotterdam (NED), EHL ever-presents Reading HC (ENG) and Germany’s Rot-Weiss Köln, a team blessed with the considerable goal scoring talents of double Olympic Gold medallist Christopher Zeller.

Euro Hockey League media release



Dragons overcome Kazan to reach knock-out stages

2012-13 EHL Silver medallists secured their place at KO16 thanks to a 3-0 victory over Russian champions Dinamo Kazan in the final match of the weekend.

A stunning solo goal from Spaniard Alvaro Iglesias got the ball rolling before Loick Luypaert and a late strike from Louis Rombouts ensured that the brilliant Belgians would feature in the knock-out stages.

The Dragons victory sealed a second place finish in Pool F ahead of their Russian counterparts, with Spain’s Club de Campo finishing top of the pile courtesy of their victory over the Belgians on Saturday.

The first quarter of the match was evenly contested. Dragons had an early goal correctly ruled out by the video umpire for an infringement in the circle, while Kazan's penalty corner start Imran Warsi brought a fine save from Dragon's keeper Manu Leroy before firing a follow-up effort high over he cross-bar.

Dragons opened the scoring midway through the second quarter through Alvaro Iglesias, who produced a moment of magic to move along the back line from the right before finding the narrowest of gaps between Kazan keeper Marat Gafarov and his left post. It was a stunning goal, and served to give Dragons the confidence that they had seemingly been lacking throughout the weekend up until that point.

The Belgians doubled their advantage thanks to a typically unstoppable penalty corner drag-flick from Loick Luypaert, who picked out the top right corner with an absolute rocket.

Kazan chased the game for long periods in the third and fourth quarters before the result was eventually put beyond all doubt by Louis Rombouts, who found space in the circle before cracking a backhand shot into the goal for 3-0. It proved to be the killer blow, ending Kazan's interest in the EHL for another season.

To see the official match sheet, please click here.

Euro Hockey League media release



Mikula hat-trick sends Grunwald through to KO16

Veteran Poland striker Artur Mikula (pictured left) rolled back the years as WKS Grunwald Poznan sealed their place at Easter’s KO16 event with a thoroughly deserved 4-1 triumph over Scottish champions Kelburne KC.

The hugely gifted 35-year-old scored three times to confirm Grunwald’s place as runners up behind Oranje Zwart (NED) in Pool G, with Tomasz Dutkiewicz also on target for the champions of Poland.

Grunwald were the dominant force in a low quality first quarter, and needed just seven minutes to establish a lead when the ever lively Mikula scored from close range, following up after a fine save from Kelburne keeper Mark Fulton. It proved to be a double blow for Kelburne, who also lost their video referral option following an unsuccessful appeal against the goal.

Mikula came close to grabbing a second for Grunwald early in the second period with a thumping strike, but his effort sailed fractionally over the crossbar.

Kelburne started the third quarter with real purpose, knowing that anything other than a win would result in their elimination from the tournament. However, it was still Grunwald who looked the more dangerous and they were guilty of missing numerous penalty corner opportunities.

The Scottish champions punished their opponents for their wastefulness in the dying stages of the period when Johnny Christie converted from an explosive Kelburne counter-attack, but Mikula re-established Grunwald’s lead early in the fourth quarter with a typical poachers’ goal.

Mikula effectively ended Kelburne’s challenge in the 64th minute with his hat-trick goal before Tomasz Dutkiewicz completed the match scoring with a low penalty corner drag-flick.

To see the official match sheet, please click here.

Euro Hockey League media release



Padros double sinks Surbiton

In what was the 250th match in Euro Hockey League history, Spanish champions and local boys Real Club de Polo de Barcelona proved themselves to be too good for England’s Surbiton, cruising to a 3-0 win in a fiery Pool E encounter.

Roger Padros netted twice to help his team to victory and seal a first place finish in the Pool ahead of their English rivals and fellow KO16 qualifiers.

Padros took his weekend tally to four goals following a double strike against Austria’s SV Arminen on Saturday. 

The opening stages of this fiercely contested match were fairly even, with Surbiton and Great Britain striker James Tindall forcing a fine early save from Polo keeper Oriol Fabregas in the first quarter. 

The Spaniards were certainly the stronger team in the second period, with pacey wingers Xavi Lleonart and Alex Casasayas causing big problems for the Surbiton defence.

The opening goal arrived in the 20th minute of the match thanks to a penalty corner drag-flick from Borja Llorens before Roger Padros added a second from the penalty spot nine minutes later.

Polo’s third goal came four minutes after half time and again Padros was the scorer, slamming a slick penalty corner routine into the bottom left corner of the Surbiton net.

Both Polo and Surbiton had chances to get on the score-sheet in the fourth and final quarter, but in the end it was the Spanish outfit who emerged as deserving winners.

To see the official match sheet, please click here.

Euro Hockey League media release



Körper inspires Harvestehuder fight-back against Beeston

Germany’s Harvestehuder THC overturned a two goal deficit to claim a superb 3-2 victory over English champions Beeston in the first match of Day 3 in Barcelona.

Austrian goal-machine Michael Körper was the star of the show, netting a penalty corner and a brilliant field goal to help the team from Hamburg claim their second win in two days.

The result means that Harvestehuder will go into the draw for KO16 as the winners of Pool D, subsequently avoiding the winners of the other pools in EHL Round 2.

Harvestehuder came into the match as heavy favourites following their hugely impressive 9-1 win against Cardiff & Met on Saturday, but The Bees certainly had the better of a pulsating first quarter. The team from Nottingham took an early lead when Chris Proctor touched home a pin-point accurate pass from Adam Dixon before defender Tim Whiteman scored a rare goal with a neat close range finish to double the advantage.

If Beeston were the dominant force in the first quarter, there was no question about which team bossed the second period. Harvestehuder produced a blistering quarter of high-quality hockey, netting three goals to turn the match on its head.

Austrian international Michael Körper got the ball rolling with a trademark penalty corner drag-flick before Tim Linsmeier levelled the scores with a close range finish. Körper claimed his second and Harvestehuder’s third with a wonderful deflection that flew into the goal via the left post, an effort which gave Great Britain goalkeeper George Pinner absolutely no chance of saving.

The German outfit created the best chances of the third quarter, with Anton Pöhling and Tobias Lietz both going close to snatching a fourth goal.

Beeston rallied hard in the fourth quarter, committing players forward in a bid to get themselves back into the game. Their hard work created two stand-out opportunities thanks to a penalty corner effort and an open play strike from Gordon McIntyre. However, Harvestehuder goalkeeper Tobias Walter proved himself up to the challenge and ensured that the team from Hamburg finished as winners. 

To see the official match sheet, please click here.

Euro Hockey League media release



What ? Four Players from the Dar Academy in Pakistan’s National Team!

By Ijaz Chaudhry


The Dar Hockey Academy got established in late 2006 with the sole aim of providing quality players to Pakistan’s national teams. There were just seven boys in the beginning. Under the dynamic leadership of the founder president, Olympic gold medallist, Taqueer Dar, the academy grew leaps and bounds.

In 2009, the academy boys gained the first ever national selection: Pakistan team for the under 18 Asia Cup. There has been on looking back since then; no age group side of Pakistan has entered an international tournament without the academy players. At the Sultan Johor junior tournament in 2012, no less than five colts of the Dar HA were part of the Pakistan juniors.            

Another landmark was achieved in 2012. Full back Khalid Bhatti became the first from the academy to earn a place in the national senior squad of Pakistan when he toured three European nations. Bhatti was soon followed by the forward Salman Hussain who donned the national senior colours in Pakistan’s victorious march at the Asian Champions Trophy in December 2012. Incidentally, they were the only players to debut for the national side in that year. 

However, both have been out of favour for quite some time. Widespread changes were anticipated in the Pakistan team after the recent debacles. The squad for the two forthcoming international events,  nine a side tournament in Australia and the Asian Champions Trophy in Japan, shows not only the names of the recalled Khalid Bhatti and Salman Hussain but two more from the Dar HA, the brothers Arsalan and Faisal Qadir, who will be wearing the national seniors’ shirt for the first time. Hailing from Punjab’s remote city of Dera Ghazi Khan, they have been appearing for Pakistan’s age group sides for quite some time.  Arsalan, a striker, has the distinction of topping the scoring charts at the youth Olympics of 2010 where his 10 goals enabled Pakistan to win the silver medal- country’s only medal in any discipline. The younger sibling Faisal is a defender.

‘Come, Learn and Play for Pakistan’ is the motto of the Dar Hockey Academy.

Anyone can come and learn hockey at Dar HA- without paying a single rupee. And depending on your talent and hard work, you might play for Pakistan.

Four players from a private academy which is being run without any financial assistance from government or the PHF, sounds incredible in that part of the world.

www.darhockeyacademy.com

Ijaz Chaudhry writes on hockey and other sports. For more about him and his published work, visit: http://www.sportscorrespondent.info/

Fieldhockey.com exclusive



Suva rules Fiji Open

Rashneel Kumar



The winning Suva women's team with the spoils after the MH Open hockey tournament at the National Hockey Cente in Laucala Bay yesterday. Picture: IVAMERE ROKOVESA

DEFENDING champions Suva once again made a clean sweep winning the men's and women's titles at the MH Fiji Open Hockey Championships yesterday.

Suva One men's side defeated Lautoka 3-0 while its women's side overcame Liverpool Moorbank club from Australia 2-0 at the National Hockey Centre in Laucala Bay.

Lautoka finished second in the men's grade followed by Suva Two, Nadi, Ba and Levuka.

In the women's grade, Liverpool Moorbank was placed second followed by Nadi and Levuka in the third and fourth places respectively.

Fiji Hockey Federation development officer Tai Smith was impressed with the competition level and thanked sponsors MH for their support.

She also thanked the visiting Liverpool Moorbank club for helping in the development of the sport in the country.

Liverpool Moorbank on Saturday donated balls, sticks and shin guards to the FHF for the junior development program.

"The tournament was organised well and we were pleased to see teams from the Western side and also Levuka taking part," Smith said.

"We are now looking forward to the Australia under-21 teams' tour to Fiji in December. Our national senior teams and the U18s will play Test matches against them."

Liverpool Moorbank club official Brett Griffiths said they were looking forward to coming back next year.

The Fiji Times



William & Mary gets its biggest win since 1995; PSU extends run


Cate Johnson, left, made eights saves to help William & Mary upset No. 5 Virginia. William & Mary Athletics

No. 1 Maryland 2, American 0

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland defeated American 2-0 on Sunday in Washington D.C. Maryland (14-0, 3-0 ACC) punched through with goals from senior Jill Witmer and redshirt freshman Emma Rissinger in the second half.

After a scoreless first half that included four total shots, Maryland’s offense finally broke through 13 minutes into the second. In the 49th minute, Witmer deflected in the first goal of the game and her 13th of the year off a penalty corner.

With 6:53 left to play, Rissinger tapped in freshman Mieke Hayn’s pass from the right corner to make it 2-0.

Maryland outshot American (8-4) 11-2. Senior goalkeeper Natalie Hunter made a stop to preserve Maryland’s fifth shutout of the year.

The Terrapins have won 12 consecutive against the Eagles dating back to 2004.

No. 3 Syracuse 3, New Hampshire 1

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse trailed at the half but its three goals in the second half were enough to rally the Orange to a 3-1 win on Sunday afternoon.

It took about 10 minutes into the second half for the Orange to score, but then it broke out for two goals in a 50-second stretch. Emma Russell scored her eighth goal of the season at the 46:59 mark and Lindsey Nerbonne assisted on the goal. Less than a minute later, Karlee Farr scored the game-winning goal on a turn-around shot.

In the 65th minute, Russell gave the Orange some breathing room. After Lauren Brooks’ shot was saved, Russell was able to corral the rebound and buried her second goal of the game.

Jess Jecko made eight saves in goal for Syracuse. The Orange improved to 12-1 with the win.

No. 4 Connecticut 5, Boston University 1

STORRS, Conn. — Sophomore defender Roisin Upton scored two goals and added two assists while junior forward Chloe Hunnable netted her team-high 14th goal to lead Connecticut past Boston University 5-1 on Sunday afternoon at the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex. With the win, UConn improves to 12-1 on the year while the Terriers slip to 8-5.

The Huskies are now 25-8 all-time against BU and have not lost to the Terriers since 2008.

UConn got on the board when Hunnable netted her 14th goal of the season with 54 seconds remaining in the first half. After the Huskies earned their third penalty corner of the game, Anne Jeute inserted the ball to Hunnable who played the ball to Upton at the top of the circle.

Upton then played the ball back to Hunnable on the wing and she drilled a shot past Valentina Cerda and into the back of the net.

While BU was able to hang with UConn in the first half, the Huskies’ offense exploded for four second-half goals, including three in the first 14:15 of the second stanza. Senior forward Marie Elena Bolles scored 1:05 into the second half after she redirected an Upton drag flick into the goal, giving UConn all the insurance it would need.

Upton then went back to back, scoring first at 46:02 and then again at 49:15, to give the Huskies a 4-0 advantage. Freshman back Montana Fleming got into the action with less than 10 minutes remaining when she took a feed from Anne Jeute and redirected it into the goal.

Senior goaltender Sarah Mansfield made two saves and allowed only one goal, a Nell Burdis score with 2:27 left in regulation. Valentina made nine saves for the Terriers.

William & Mary 2, No. 5 Virginia 1

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – William and Mary played a masterful game of defense and took advantage of its opportunities on offense on Sunday, shocking Virginia 2-1. The Tribe upped its season record to 6-7 with the victory, while the Cavaliers fell to 14-3.

W&M pulled off the win despite being heavily outshot, thanks to strong goalkeeping by sophomore Cate Johnson. Playing in her hometown, Johnson made a career-best eight saves, and kept the Cavaliers off the board for more than an hour. Dating back to last Sunday’s match against Towson, Johnson extended her own personal shut-out streak to two hours, 22 minutes, and 11 seconds before Virginia was able to score its only goal.

Johnson’s play proved important, thanks to an early score by the Tribe offense that put the Cavaliers in an unfamiliar hole. Just seven minutes into the match, sophomore Pippin Saunders unleashed a shot  from the top of the circle that blew by the Virginia goalkeeper and into the back of the cage. It was her team-leading sixth goal of the year, and proved to be the eventual game winner (Saunders’ first of her career).

In the second half, Saunders sent the ball in to senior captain Chaney Manganello who teed it up for Taylor Hodge to blast into the boards and put the Tribe ahead 2-0. The tally kept Hodge even with Saunders at six goals apiece, while providing assists to both Saunders and Manganello (her third).

Virginia responded about two and a half minutes later, finally scoring off a corner, but even another timeout and pulling its goalkeeper with four minutes remaining to give it another attacker couldn’t break Johnson and the Tribe defense. The Tribe victory was the first for an unranked team against Virginia since late in the 2011 season.

Other notable milestones hit Sunday for W&M including the first win against any ACC school since Sept. 29, 2004, when the Tribe beat No. 12 Virginia in Charlottesville, 5-4. The last time the Green and Gold beat a top-10 ranked opponent was also in 2004, a 2-1 win against No. 8 Old Dominion on Oct. 27, and the last win against a top-5 team was Oct. 5, 1995, when W&M beat No. 5 Virginia, 3-2 in Williamsburg.

No. 8 Penn State 8, Bucknell 0

LEWISBURG, Pa. – Penn State extended its winning streak to nine matches on Sunday afternoon, winning a hard-fought 2-0 battle against Bucknell on the road. With the victory, Penn State improved its record to 10-3 on the season.

The Nittany Lions did all of its damage in the opening 35 minutes. Jenna Chrismer and Lauren Purvis each scored as a result of penalty corner shots from Brittany Grzywacz.

The Nittany Lions earned their first penalty corner of the match in the 10th minute and immediately capitalized on the opportunity. Chrismer redirected a Grzywacz shot past the Bison keeper to put PSU on top 1-0. The goal was her fourth of the season and Grzywacz notched her first assist of the season.

Just seven minutes after the opening goal, the Blue and White struck again. Grzywacz unleashed a strike, forcing the Bison keeper to go to ground to make the save. Purvis immediately collected the rebound and shot the ball into the cage to double Penn State’s lead at 2-0. The goal marked Purvis’s fourth goal of the season.

No. 9 Princeton 2, Delaware 1

NEWARK, Del. – An Amanda Bird goal in the 63rd minute lifted Princeton to a 2-1 victory against Delaware on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Tigers improve to 7-4 on the year.

On their second shot 11 minutes into the game, Michelle Cesan provided the Tigers with a 1-0 advantage. Cesan, a senior midfielder, took the ball in the circle and sent in the go-ahead goal off a backhand shot.

Delaware capitalized on a rebound in the 42nd minute to equalize things at 1-1. Clare O’Malley picked up Michaela Patzner’s blocked shot on her knees to break up Princeton’s shutout.

On its fifth penalty corner, Princeton struck again to retake the lead for good. At 62:32, Julia Reinprecht fed in the ball to Cesan and Bird was there with a perfect finish to score her first goal of the year.

Both sides finished with 10 shots apiece and Princeton held a 6-5 penalty corner advantage. Anya Gersoff tallied five saves to improve to 5-3 on the year in the cage.

NCAA



Field Hockey Edges Fairfield in Overtime

By Kurt T. Bullard


Despite conceding a tying goal with only minutes remaining in Sunday’s contest against Fairfield, the Harvard field hockey team responded in overtime. Behind sophomore Elizabeth Jacobson’s goal with 1:14 left in the extra period, the Crimson (4-5, 0-1 Ivy) defeated the Lady Stags (9-3, 1-0 America East) on Sunday, 4-3.

Harvard had looked poised to emerge victorious in regulation. Awarded a penalty corner with less than five minutes remaining in the second half, Jacobson slung the ball across the circle to freshman Marissa Balleza, who rocketed a shot from the right side of the net to break a 2-2 tie. The first-year’s goal was her fourth of the season, a team-high.

This lead, however, was short-lived. With less than a minute left in regulation, Fairfield senior Hillary Fitz controlled a pass off a corner penalty and drove it into the back of the net, knotting the game at three goals apiece.

Fairfield looked to have won the game in the final seconds of regulation, as junior Felicitas Heinen put a shot past Crimson senior goalkeeper Jen Hattfield. But in the midst of the Lady Stags’ celebration, the referees disallowed the goal, saying that it entered the net too high.

“The momentum shifted a little bit where they thought they won it,” said Harvard coach Tjerk van Herwaarden. “Our team did very well with staying poised, making the right decision in [overtime] which allowed us to eventually get the win.”

With a man advantage early in overtime, Balleza fired a shot that looked to have beaten freshman goalkeeper Caitlin Bennett, but it ricocheted off the post as the Crimson was unable to take advantage of the Fairfield yellow card.

With the Lady Stags back at even strength, Harvard junior Catriona McDonald was able speed past a few Fairfield defenders and send a pass in to Jacobson, who was able to control the ball and seal the victory for Harvard. McDonald recorded two assists in a winning effort, her first of the year.

“[McDonald] had a great pass,” Jacobson said. “I knew that I had to get [to the middle] to receive it and end the game.”

The victory for the Crimson snapped the Lady Stags’ six-game winning streak. It also marks the first win this at Jordan Field for Harvard, who had lost its previous three games at home.

“We’ve been having trouble getting some goals at home,” senior Rachael Rosenfeld said. “It was really great that we could score a lot of goals and win it at home.”

Rosenfeld opened the scoring for the Crimson with the first half’s only goal, redirecting a shot sent in by McDonald from the top of the circle for her second goal of the season.

Harvard would not stay ahead for long.  Fairfield senior Christy Starsinic dove towards a pass from senior Shealyn Testa in front of the goal, extending her stick out and deflecting the ball into the net 13 minutes into the second half. The Crimson had gone more than 100 minutes without conceding a goal before Starsinic’s effort.

Less than five minutes later, sophomore Emily McCauley scored off a beautiful assist from freshman Julie de Pauew to give the Lady Stags their first lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.

“We still made some mistakes that allowed Fairfield to come back,” van Herwaarden said. “But I think overall we played our game well and it was good enough to get the win.”

Despite losing the lead twice throughout the course of the game, Harvard was able to maintain offensive pressure and eventually come away victorious. The team fired 10 shots on goal during the game, constantly challenging the Lady Stags’ freshman goalkeeper.

Junior Caitlin Rea regained the momentum for the Crimson, scoring off a corner penalty 19:09 into the second half to tie the game, 2-2.

“Once they scored, we trailed off a little bit,” Jacobson said. “After the timeout [after Fairfield’s second goal], we finally got the fire that we needed to pull through.”

Harvard was able to stave off a few Fairfield scoring chances in overtime behind Hattfield’s goalkeeping. She recorded three saves in the game to help slow down a strong Lady Stags’ offense that averages more than three goals per game.

“This year we’re climbing a mountain,” van Henwaarden said. “We’re trying to grow and climb higher every single game. I think today the team set the new standard for what Harvard field hockey is about.”

The Harvard Crimson



Britain's hockey boys of 1988 to mark 25th anniversary of Seoul gold

By Mike Rowbottom




Britain's men's hockey team of 1988 are marking the 25th anniversary of their Seoul goldOctober 12 - The players who earned Britain the Olympic hockey title at Seoul 1988 will mark their achievement tonight as they stage a 25th anniversary gala reunion dinner at a London hotel.

Among them will be David Faulkner, left back during the glorious Olympic run in South Korea, who is now director of sport at Millfield School having stepped down from his role as Team GB's performance director for hockey, a role he filled from 2005 until the end of the London 2012 Games, where Britain's men finished fourth and the women won bronze.

By the time he retired from playing Faulkner, now 50, had won 225 caps for England and Great Britain, and he is looking forward to his latest get-together with the boys of 1988, who beat World Cup winners Australia 3-2 in the semi-final before defeating Germany 3-1 in the gold medal match.


David Faulkner, pictured here with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, ahead of London 2012, will be at the 25th anniversary gala reunion dinner

"We played hockey at our 20-year reunion - but I don't think we'll be doing that this time round!" he told insidethegames.

"We will just enjoy each others' company.

"That was one of the best things about the group.

"We had so much fun off the pitch.

"And we all share something now that was a lifetime achievement."

Also present with their gold medals will be Ulster's Stephen Martin - now chief executive of the Olympic Council of Ireland - and Jimmy Kirkwood, the province's only Olympic champions other than Robin Dixon and Mary Peters.


Seoul gold medallists Jimmy Kirkwood and Stephen Martin are looking forward to the silver anniversary reunion dinner

"It was a special time for GB hockey and indeed it took another 25 years before they seriously competed for another medal [at the London 2012 Olympics]," Martin told the Belfast Telegraph.

Britain's 1984 Olympic bronze medallists have also been invited.

"You wondered did it really happen," Kirkwood added.

"You felt likes a different person on the podium but it was hugely exciting and very special.

"And then there was the tremendous receptions when we arrived home at the airport in London and again in Belfast."

Many of the Seoul 1988 hockey champions have retained an active link with the sport.

Richard Leman is GB Hockey President; Russell Garcia has coached in Spain and Holland; Seoul top scorer Sean Kerly - now a 53-year-old grandfather - plays regularly for Canterbury's sixth string as well as being called upon as an expert during televised major hockey tournaments; and Imran Sherwani can be seen at Cannock where his three sons play regularly.

Inside the Games