M1 Host Holcombe On Sunday
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men get their Men's Hockey League Premier Division campaign underway when they host Holcombe at Sugden Road on Sunday (push back 2.30 pm).
With many player movements since last season's COVID shortened season, including Alan Forsyth and Zach Wallace going to the Netherlands and Brendan Creed moving to Belgium, plus James Royce now living in Australia, Surbiton will face a new challenge as they aim to retain the title they last won in 2020.
Gareth Furlong has returned from Tilburg to form a dangerous penalty corner partnership with Luke Taylor; Adam Buckle returns and Ben Stevenson joins from the University of Nottingham and Ben Park comes from the University of Durham and Nick Park arrives from Beeston.
Furlong is a former Tilburg team-mate of Holcombe's new signing, Greg Nolan together with Sam Paterson, who has joined from the University of Exeter; Tom Russell from Brooklands Manchester University and Craig Wild, who has made the shorter trip from Sevenoaks.
Surbiton have won three of the last four home matches with Holcombe, the last coming in October 2019 when Ben Boon scored twice and Arjan Drayton-Chana also contributed to a 3-1 victory.
Holcombe's last win at Sugden Road came in March 2017 when in spite of Furlong's brace and a goal from Forsyth, Surbiton went down 4-3, Harry Trusler Nick Bandurak, Matt Rees-Gibbs and Robert Field giving the Kent club all three points.
The clubs also met on the opening weekend of the season back in 2016-17 when Holcombe won 3-2 at Holcombe Park. Nick Parkes put Surbiton ahead, but Holcombe led 3-1 with ten minutes to play, thanks to two goals from Sam Ward and a third from Gareth Andrew. Although Richard Hildreth pulled back a goal with four minutes to play, Surbiton couldn't find the equaliser.
Elsewhere, East Grinstead have a local derby at home to Oxted, Beeston travel to Old Georgians, the University of Durham meet their northern rivals, Brooklands Manchester University and Wimbledon host Hampstead & Westminster.