Guildford Boys played their way to the top of England Hockey Under 18s winning the England HockeyTier 1 National Championship on Saturday after retaining their National Indoor Hockey title in January.
Their route to the outdoor final of this knock-out competition started in November and was through wins over Woking 4-0, Old Merchant Taylor’s 7-0, Marlow 5-0, a tough 4-4 draw against Sevenoaks that saw the team win a sudden death penalty shoot-out, and a win over Wakefield 4-1 in the semi-final.
Guildford faced a strong Cheltenham side who had come through their semi-final on penalty shoot-out after a 3-3 draw with Beeston.
The Guildford boys made a strong start to the final game, pressing hard and winning several short corners in the early minutes of the game. Strong defending from Cheltenham kept the scores level until one of Captain Raphael Boulanger’s drag flicks found the back of the net for 1-0 halfway through the half.
Cheltenham redoubled their efforts and Guildford faced a barrage of attacks which were kept at bay by a strong defensive line and Elliot Clarke, in goal, saving brilliantly any attempts on target that got through.
Guildford didn’t let up and continued their positive attacking play in the second half. Another short corner opportunity was saved by Cheltenham’s Ollie Smart in goal, but William Tristem pounced onto the rebound and netted for 2-0. From the re-start Guildford quickly re-gained possession and Will Ferguson lost his marker and pivoted to smash in a beautiful backhand shot from the edge of the D for 3-0.
This was an extremely fast-paced, high quality game with some of the best hockey players in the age group in the country. Cheltenham kept coming back and eventually scored on a short corner for 3-1. With 5 minutes to play they replaced their keeper with an extra outfield player, trying to get those evasive two goals to force a shoot-out. But the Guildford boys were strong and determined and took home the gold medals and trophy.
Captain Boulanger congratulated both teams’ performances, “this was a high quality game and Cheltenham had some very strong players; I am very proud of the Guildford boys for our team play and how deeply each one of us dug to play outstanding hockey on the biggest stage in the country.”
The boys’ coach, GHC Men’s 1s player Tylo Remke, was away in his native South Africa but incoming GHC Director of Hockey, Dan Fox, coached the team to glory on the day, “I’m really looking forward to joining Guildford HC full time from 1st August to build on the many club successes this season. With all 5 Ladies teams and two men’s teams earning promotion and a thriving section of quality juniors, there is a lot to look forward to.”
Will, Josh, Jake, Harry, Nick, Joel, Marcus, Ben, Elliot
Olly, Max, Freddy, Raphael, Elliot, Isaac, Will
Coach: Tylo Remke
Indoor Coaches: Dan Fox, Ed Tristem, Tylo Remke
Finals Day Coaches (Tylo was in South Africa!): Dan Fox, Ed Tristem