M1 Visit Southgate On Saturday Evening
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men travel to Southgate on Saturday for the first time since the 2014-15 season for their latest Men's Hockey League Premier Division game (push back 6 pm at Southgate Hockey Centre).
Surbiton will be aiming to bounce back from last Saturday's disappointing 3-2 home defeat to Holcombe, which meant that Surbiton were the last team to lose their unbeaten record this season in the top-flight.
Southgate were promoted from Division One South last season and started the 2023-24 season with a 4-1 victory at last season's Division One North champions, Cardiff & Met.
Holcombe brought Southgate back down to earth with a 5-2 win in North London, but Southgate were unlucky last week not to return from Nottingham Hockey Centre with all three points as Beeston equalised late to earn a point in a 2-2 draw.
Archie Foster and Richmond Lum have both scored twice for Southgate this season with Will Calnan and Kwan Browne, both new signings from Hampstead & Westminster, scoring once alongside Dan West and Teague Marcano.
Southgate were founder members of the Men's England Hockey League in 1988-89 and were the first winners of the competition. Although they haven't been able to repeat that initial triumph, Southgate remained in the top-flight until 2001-02 when they were relegated for the first time.
They weren't able to win their place back in the Premier Division until 2007-08 when they were champions of Division One, but were only able to survive for one season, making an immediate return after finishing bottom of the table in 2008-09.
At this point, the Conference structure had been introduced below the Premier Division with Southgate domiciled in the Conference East, which they won in 2010-11. Southgate pipped Durham University to the second Promotion Tournament place on goal difference and this time survived for two seasons, finishing eighth in 2011-12 before losing their place via the Promotion Tournament in 2012-13, finishing fourth to return to the Conference East for the 2013-14 season.
Southgate inched out Holcombe for the 2013-14 Conference East championship by a single point before finishing second in the Promotion Tournament to return to the Premier Division for the last time before last season's promotion.
Southgate missed out on the Conference East title by five points in 2015-16 behind Richmond and six points behind Oxted in 2017-18.
Surbiton's last visit to Southgate Hockey Centre was in September 2014 when Matt Daly scored twice and Alan Forsyth scored in the last minute to give the visitors a 3-1 win, Giulio Ferrini scoring for Southgate.
Forsyth and Daly were also on target in the return match at Sugden Road, both scoring twice after Lewis Prosser opened the scoring in the first minute, with Rupert Shipperley also scoring in a convincing 6-1 win, Mike Houlihan scoring what proved to be a consolation goal in the third minute.
Two goals in the first three minutes is impressive, but Southgate did even better on home turf in September 2012 when John Sterlini and Matt Coombes both scored in the first minute before Surbiton fought back to earn a thrilling 4-4 draw.
Southgate's only win over Surbiton in recent years came in October 2011 when William Cottam gave Southgate a 1-0 home win.
Gareth Furlong kept up his record of scoring in every game this season for Surbiton with his double strike against Holcombe, but the Kent club's victory meant that bragging rights in the Furlong household were claimed by Holcombe's Rhodri.
There are only five MHL Premier Division matches this weekend as Old Georgians and Holcombe are both in Barcelona for the Euro Hockey League KO16.
Old Georgians beat Mannheimer 5-1 in KO16, thanks to two goals from Sam Ward, a penalty stroke from Alan Forsyth and strikes from Lee Morton and James Carson. All this after Luis Holste put Mannheimer ahead in the fourth minute.
Old Georgians will take on Waterloo Ducks in KO8 at 0845 BST on Sunday.
Holcombe won 4-2 over Racing Club De France and will face the hosts, Real Club de Polo on Sunday at 1100 BST. Nick Bandurak scored twice for Holcombe with Phil Roper and Tom Russell also finding the net. Christophe Peters-Deutz scored both Racing Club goals.
Real Club De Polo beat CAM 92 (formerly CA Montrouge) 4-1 in the final game on Friday to set up the KO8 clash.
Hampstead & Westminster, Surbiton and Wimbledon will all be aiming to join Holcombe and Old Georgians on nine points after Saturday's fixtures. Hampstead & Westminster travel to Surrey to take on Oxted, whilst Wimbledon host East Grinstead.
Cardiff & Met host Beeston in South Wales and Reading travel to the East Midlands to play the University of Nottingham.