Euro Hockey League (EHL)
Wimbledon came 4th in the 2016-17 EHL championship and are the only UK team to reach the final 4 since Reading in 2011. We are immensely proud of this achievement and although a higher place was hoped for the weekend was a huge success for all involved. The supporters were out in force and strong voice over both days with the Womble leading out the team for their final match against KHC Dragons alongside the Dragon.
As Premier League winners we went to the KO32 for the 2017-18 EHL championship which was held in Barcelona from 6-9th October. In a tough group where we faced Bloemendaal we were unable to win our way through to the KO16.
Further EHL dates are as follows:
KO16 & KO8: Easter weekend, 30th March - 2nd April 2018, in the Netherlands
KO16 matches are over Friday/Saturday whilst the KO8 take place on Sunday/Monday. All teams will play 2 matches this weekend with teams playing either Friday and Sunday or Saturday and Monday.
Final 4: 26-27 May 2018, weekend after Whitsun.
HAWES REFLECTS ON TOUGH WEEKEND FOR WIMBLEDON AT EHL FINAL4 (Antwerp June 2017)
Wimbledon coach Ben Hawes admitted it was a tough weekend for his side as they missed out on a medal at the EHL FINAL4, falling 8-0 to HC Oranje-Rood before losing 3-1 to KHC Dragons in the BRONZE MATCH.
His side had impressed with KO16 wins over German sides UHC Hamburg and Mannheimer HC but a lengthy lay-off due to the early finish of the English league left his side shy of match sharpness.
Indeed, their six-week lead-in to the FINAL4 only saw them play a friendly against the England national team and then a tie against lower tier Chiswick. With key defender Michael Hoare injured and a number of their squad heading to the Sultan Azlan Shah competition in Malaysia, it further hampered preparations for the biggest ties in their club history.
“It’s probably a reflection of where we are as a club and as a nation in club hockey,” Hawes said following their loss to Dragons. “Saturday was massively disappointing because of the way we lost. We always pride ourselves on is hard work and physical work along with spirit and belief and we got outdone on that front as well as technical execution which was a shame.
“On Sunday, we spoke about being more positive in our approach and aggressive in our pressing. Dragons have got some really good individuals but I feel we should have been able to compete for longer periods.”
Looking back on his club’s second EHL campaign, Hawes said that the gap in the season did have an impact.
“In the KO16 and KO8, we were probably in the peak of our season. We showed we can compete but it was very clear when we dropped off for six weeks, to maintain that is a tough ask. It’s a challenge we have. We want to compete at this level and aspire to get here regularly but we have to be realistic sometimes and we are not best setup to do it.”
He also says that next season will have an extra complication for his club – if they reach the KO16 – and Surbiton. Both clubs have large international elements, not just with England but also with Scotland and Wales who could yet be involved in the Commonwealth Games.
“That six week break is never going to be conducive to whichever English team gets [to the EHL]. Next year, who knows what that is going to be like because the guys will be at the Commonwealth Games if we make the KO16? That’s a harsh reality for that year in particular.
“I am not sure England hockey have priority for club hockey in the EHL which is a shame but there is a balance to be had between the international and club game. International hockey makes the players better while the EHL makes our players better and makes a broader base [for England Hockey]. It’s a lesson for us and it gives us something to aim at.”
For more information about the Euro Hockey League please click here