L1 Host Wimbledon On Saturday Evening
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies face local rivals Wimbledon in a league match for the first time when the teams meet up in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division on Saturday evening (push back 6 pm).
When Surbiton started playing league hockey in 1990-91, Wimbledon were members of the fledgling Women's England Hockey League, where they stayed until they were finally relegated to the South Clubs' Women's Hockey League in 2006-07.
Surbiton began their rise in 2004-05 when they won the Surrey Ladies League Premier Division, immediately followed by promotion from SCWHL Division 3B in 2005-06.
Surbiton won promotion from Division 2 to Division 1 in 2008-09, the season when Wimbledon were relegated in the other direction, and until Saturday night, the closest the teams had come to meeting in a league competition.
Surbiton fought their way into the Women's England Hockey League after winning SCWHL Division 1 in 2009-10 and after two seasons in the Conference East, won promotion to the Premier Division for the 2012-13 season.
From 2013-14 to 2019-20, Surbiton won seven successive championships, with the 2020-21 season being declared null and void for promotion and championship purposes.
As Surbiton won promotion to the Premier Division after winning the Conference East in 2011-12, Wimbledon were making their return to the Women's England Hockey League and played in the Conference East from 2012-13 and could only watch as Holcombe were promoted in 2013-14 and East Grinstead went up a season later.
Wimbledon finally won the Conference East in 2016-17, but missed out via the Promotion Tournament.
Promotion was at last achieved in 2019-20 via the newly introduced Division One South, finishing thirteen points ahead of Reading when the season was halted prematurely after 17 games, with the final round cancelled due to Covid-19.
Wimbledon were promoted together with Division One North champions Swansea to an expanded eleven team Premier Division, which was again terminated early due to the continuing Covid-19 crisis.
This season, after losing their opening home game 3-1 to Hampstead & Westminster, Wimbledon have won the next three, 2-0 at home to Holcombe; 4-1 at Swansea and 6-0 at home to Beeston.
Eliza Brett is top scorer with five goals with Sarah Jones, currently on World Cup qualifier duty with team-mate Sarah-Jayne Thorburn, who has scored once, second top scorer with three goals.
Former Surbiton player, Lucy Holder has netted twice, with captain, Harriet Naismith and Suzy Petty joining Thorburn on one goal.
Surbiton will be without Leah Wilkinson and Robyn Collins, also due to the World Cup qualifiers and have drawn 2-2 at Clifton Robinsons and at home to Buckingham, whilst beating Beeston 2-0 at Sugden Road and a much needed 4-1 win at the University of Birmingham last Saturday which saw two fantastic goals from joint leading scorer Sophie Hamilton and debut first team goals for Maddie Long and Wilkinson.
Eloise Stenner has scored three goals together with Hamilton, whilst Alice Wills and Georgie Twigg have also found the net this season.
Elsewhere, Hampstead & Westminster are at home to Holcombe as they aim to maintain their one hundred per cent record. East Grinstead, who are playing catch up after a bye week last week and a week missed due to European competition, host Swansea.
Clifton Robinsons and Loughborough Students, who both won their first league games of the season last weekend, meet in Bristol and the University of Birmingham take on Beeston in a Midlands derby.