The cream of the crop in the European Hockey League

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Almost half of the Surbiton squad had opted to play in the commonwealth games in Brisbane, Australia instead – can’t really blame them.

Holcombe had competed in the 2016/17 tournament, claiming an impressive 8 - 1 win over the Polish college side KS AZS AWF Poznan, eventually losing 2 - 1 to SV Kampong, a very capable and experienced Dutch side – no disgrace there. In any case, they were thrust into the tournament by Surbiton’s absence, and accredited themselves admirably, considering they too had a weakened team due to commonwealth call-ups. It was a mammoth – not a hairy elephant – task when considering the odds stacked against them.

Notwithstanding the disadvantages of this relatively titchy club, how refreshing it was and courageous of them to commit to the competition with such a commendable strength of character. Primarily, the team had a high mixture of youth and a couple of more experienced players, captained by Richard Lane, a midfielder and the top scorer that season – a job well done.

“We’re still confident of positively representing England, and putting in a strong performance against Real Club de Polo in the opening game on Good Friday.”
Keith Martin - Holcombe club president

At the other end of the scale, in contrast to Holcombe, you’ll find Bloemendaal HC. It was founded over a hundred years before Holcombe in 1895, and is the oldest hockey club in the Netherlands. They were triumphant in the EHL on 3 occasions, most recently winning gold at the 2017/18 tournament.

The team has amassed 14 Dutch national titles along with 3 European Club Champions Cups. The men’s team is currently coached to victory by Michel van den Heuvel with a rake of international players under his guidance. However, heart warningly, Bloemendaal is still – as is Holcombe – a very family orientated and cosy club environment.

Bloemendaal may attribute a high percentage of their success to the youth programs and the club’s values. In their own words “Bloemendaal stands for: sportsmanship, fun, passion, discipline and hospitality. That was the past, and that will be the future.” Fans and members alike are embraced with warmth and a family friendly atmosphere. The winning formula is inherent within the youngsters playing hockey at the club. Unsurprisingly, over half of the club’s membership are youth members.

Regardless of the amount of silverware and rich history of Bloemendaal HC, it’s glaringly obvious that Holcombe HC have more in common than it might seem at first glance. A passionate ambition to succeed can’t be faked, and both clubs should be proud of their attention to the grass roots of field hockey. The field hockey family is on the up.