In an extraordinary year that has seen most "normal" activity shut or at least slow down, and after the 2019/20 EH Championships were put on hold back in March, England Hockey managed to organise covid-safe EH Cup Finals in September 2020. This was a tremendous effort in the current covid-ridden world we live in.
GHC's route to the Final included:
Round 1 - bye
Round 2 - conceded by East Grinstead
Round 3 - penalty shoot-out win 2-1 after a 3-3 draw to Teddington
Quarterfinal - 3-0 win over Wapping
Semi-Final - 7-0 win over Sheffiled University Bankers
The game against Wapping on 15 March was the final game the team played before the pandemic lockdown. Nearly 6 months later, the team's next competitive game back was the semi-final on 6 Septmeber, which saw the team travel to Sheffield for their emphatic 7 – 0 win over Sheffield University Bankers.
So, Guildford Women's 1st XI found themselves in a repeat of the 2018/19 EH Tier 2 final against Loughborough Students 2nd XI.
The EH Finals were held at The Nottingham Hockey Centre. This meant another long coach journey and so over two weekends the team travelled just under 1000miles!!! And the team did it in style thanks to Kingsferry Coaches, which was a great way to travel apart from the very dodgy choice of DVD’s to watch on the way home (note to self don’t let Harriet or Emma S manage the entertainment in future).
To the final...arriving at the pitch to be greeted by Hockey makers was somewhat bizarre given that there was no (drunken, in Guildford’s case) crowd to watch and support. No spectators allowed due to covid safety measures. The team were ushered to have photographs - also under covid-measures no team hugs)...and then to the game.
The first half started with Loughborough attacking hard - a normal Guildford approach - but this time at the receiving end. After 7 minutes, Loughborough’s attack found the net. Guildford responded from the re-start; some well-worked passes broke the Loughborough defence and Lara Vincent scored the equaliser. However, Guildford failed to capitalise and the momentum stayed with Loughborough who found the net twice more before the half time break.
The second half saw a different Guildford side who dominated the possession with their press working particularly well with both Maddie Richardson and Hettie Whittington intercepting balls in Loughborough’s 23 and creating some great opportunities for the Guildford side to score.
It was not long before one attack saw a brilliant finish from Emma Stewart to close the gap to 3 – 2. Guildford continued to press and dominate possession, including a total of 9 penalty corners, but were unable to finish. Nine minutes from the end, Loughborough scored again to take the score to 4 – 2. Guildford battled to the end, but were unable to close the gap.
The team are resolute and it will be third time lucky next year. We say goodbye to three players that have played their last outdoor games for Guildford for a few years as they head off to university: Lara Vincent, Alice Cobb and Anja Atkin, we wish them all the best.
Thank you to Jordan Robson for the photographs (c) photography_jrobbo