Olympic spirit can inspire mixed team’s bid for glory

Horsham HC Nicole Allan

Horsham HC Nicole Allan

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Horsham’s mixed team have booked their spot at the Olympic Park with their second appearance in the National Knock-Out Cup finals weekend in four seasons.

An 8-2 drubbing of big money Holcombe, who play in the National League, in the quarter-final on Sunday secured Horsham’s a place in the finals in London in June.

In 2011 they finished as runners-up in the competition in Cannock, but this year they have the chance of going one better on the Olympic pitch at Lee Valley.

It is the last four teams that go to a finals weekend and Horsham now meet Bedford in the semi-finals on Saturday June 6.

If successful they will play in the final against the winners of Hampstead and Westminster versus Harleston Magpies the following day.

Mixed team manager Paddy Humphries revealed that the opportunity to play on the Olympic pitch has delighted the team.

He said: “Last time we qualified we went to play in Sheffield, which was exciting enough. To play a national finals weekend at the Olympic Park is beyond most hockey player’s dreams.”

Millionaire-backed Holcombe are famously the club who recruited England skipper Barry Middleton to support their National League campaign.

And while Holcombe ladies also play at the top level of league hockey, mixed hockey is another matter as Horsham centre-half Freddie Campbell explained.

He said: “Our men can compete with the best and our ladies are top class. We have total confidence in each other and it really shows on the pitch.”

The proof was that Horsham’s eight-goal haul was equally split between the women and the men.

Rising star Nicole Allan bagged a hat-trick and Steph Dent got on the scoresheet, while goals for first team skipper Duncan Howarth, a penalty from Humphries and a brace from Campbell completed the tally.

With what amounts to a local fixture, in national terms, Horsham will hope to take strong support to the event.

Tickets are available on the English Hockey website at £4 for one day or £6 for both.

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