With just nine days to go until the start of the new NOW: Pensions Men’s League season teams are welcoming their new signings and going through their final preparations as they aim to get off to a winning start in their all-important first league game on Saturday 13 September.
Representatives from all ten of the NOW: Pensions Men’s Premier Division teams gathered at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre earlier this week to talk about their chances of making the NOW: Pensions Men’s Finals Weekend next April [11-12] at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Video Referral: NOW: Pensions men’s premier teams set for new season
Adam Dixon [England & GB], Beeston Captain on defending their title which they have won three times in the last four seasons:
It’s hard being reigning champions as you are the ones everyone is hunting down. When we first came up we were going after the likes of Cannock, Reading and East Grinstead whereas now we’re the ones they all want to take down. It makes every game tough but we’re ready for the challenge.
Andy Bull [England & GB], East Grinstead on the title contenders:
Beeston are our biggest rivals and when we play each other there are a lot of goals and it’s always tasty. Surbiton have recruited well, David Beckett and Rupert Shipperley in particular are both good players, but everyone has plenty of quality in their sides. It should be very close this year.
Simon Mantell [England & GB], Reading on the rising stars at Sonning Lane:
We’ve lost a few players but we have some good young players coming through and I look forward to seeing how they develop. Ben Boon was very good for England U21s over the summer; he’ll have a key role for us, whilst people like Pete Scott, Max Heaver and some others will have to really step up and show they deserve a first team spot.
Surbiton newcomer David Beckett [England & GB] on his team’s ones to watch:
Matt Daly scored 22 goals last year and about 17 of those were penalty corners. I’m sure teams will be fearful of playing against him. At the other end we have David Kettle who had a fantastic Commonwealth Games for Wales. He made something like 30 saves in the game against Australia, so it’s great to have someone in such good form in our goal.
Adam Dixon, Beeston Captain
Ben Allberry on Canterbury’s ambitions for the season:
This season it’s the top four we’re aiming for. We want to hit teams hard and make sure we get to the finals. We know the games are tough but we want to break into that top group and become a force. We have the capability to win the whole thing. The only team who can stop us, is ourselves.
Phil Roper [England & GB] on Wimbledon’s two marquee signings:
Ian Sloan and James Bailey are our two big name signings. Bailey is a great shot stopper and fantastic at keeping out corners.
Ian Sloan is a terrific attacking talent so I can’t wait to link up with him. We have a range of corner options now which takes the pressure off. Sloany will score plenty of goals for us, no doubt.
Harry Gibson on why he chose to join Hampstead and Westminster:
It’s a club with a lot of potential. It’s a really good move for me in terms of my personal development. I felt I could make an impact coming in and learn a lot from the people here, too. Michael Johnson is a great coach but it’s all about how quickly we can learn as a team. If it goes to plan we have the ability to be near the top of the table.
Marc Edwards on Cannock proving the doubters wrong:
We didn’t do ourselves justice last season so I believe we will be mid table and maybe push for playoffs. We’ll cause teams some problems if we play to our potential. People outside the club think we’re relegation material but we know we’re not. We have to prove it now.
Aidan Khares on Brooklands MU’s formidable home form:
We see plenty of games this season as winnable. We’ve always done well at home against the big teams because no one likes coming up north! We’ll try and turn our home ground into a fortress and pick up plenty of points there.
Jonty Robinson on consolidating Southgate’s position:
We want to stay up but we’re also ambitious and want to establish ourselves in this league. If we can finish mid-table that’s great, then hopefully within a few years we can push on for the places at the top of the table.
|First weekend of NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League fixtures|
|Saturday 13 September|
|Men’s Premier Division|
|Hampstead and Westminster||v||Wimbledon||15:00|
|Men’s Conference West|
|Cheltenham||v||Team Bath Buccaneers||12:30|
|Cardiff & Met||v||Whitchurch||13:00|
|Guildford||v||University of Birmingham||14:00|
|University of Exeter||v||Indian Gymkhana||14:00|
|Men’s Conference North|
|Olton & West Warwicks||v||Deeside Ramblers||13:30|
|University of Durham||v||Belper||14:00|
|Men’s Conference East|
|Teddington||v||Bromley and Beckenham||13:45|
|Brighton and Hove||v||Chichester Priory Park||16:00|
|Sunday 14 September|
|West Herts||v||Cambridge City||14:00|
Click here to see the full fixture list for the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League for the 2014/15 season
Click here to find out more about the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League
Photo Credit: Chris Lee / England Hockey