Great Britain hockey international talks confident game ahead of new Surbiton season

David Beckett is confident his young Surbiton side will thrive on their new attacking style as they prepare to make the next step to challenge for the title this season.

Surbiton reached the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League Finals last April, defeating Reading to finish third as Beeston defended their title with a penalty shoot-out victory over East Grinstead.

Yet the club failed to gain a spot in this season’s Euro Hockey League as England saw its number of entrants reduced from three to two after a poor showing last year.

England and Great Britain international Beckett is one of several key signings that signal Surbiton’s intent to secure European qualification and challenge for the title.

Pensions Men’s Hockey League team photo

And the 25-year-old forward insisted he is excited by his move from Cannock and the chance to help coach Todd Williams’ implement a more dynamic edge to his new team.

“I was at Cannock for two years so it was difficult to leave as obviously I made a lot of friends up there, but circumstances meant I had to move on,” he said.

“However it’s fantastic to be at Surbiton now and I’m really looking forward to the new season, which I think we’re shaping up well for.

“There has been a big change around Surbiton with at least five new players including myself coming in. Todd wants to change our style of play and I think that’s possible with a young side.

“It’s a bit different from what we’ve done before as we’re looking to be more aggressive, get the ball in the D and score lots of goals and hopefully play some exciting hockey.

“It’s a case this year of getting back in those playoffs and trying to push for the top two places to get those European spots and maybe even win the league.”

Surbiton face a tough start to the season as they host Reading in the opening game on September 13 before taking on fellow finalists Beeston and East Grinstead in the first four matches.

Beckett admitted he is particularly relishing such high profile ties as they help to promote interest in the sport, building on the recent success of both the men’s and women’s international sides.

And after missing out on selection to the Commonwealth Games squad, Beckett is determined to prove his worth to the selectors ahead of the Champions Trophy in India this December.

“I believe hockey is a great spectator sport – it’s about time we got it out in the public eye and thankfully it’s starting to get there now,” he said.

“The sky is the limit with hockey in this country, especially with both the men’s and women’s sides bringing home medals from the Commonwealth Games.

“The next aim for me is to push for that Champions Trophy squad by showing the coaching staff what I’m capable of doing here at Surbiton.”

NOW: Pensions is the official sponsor of the England Men’s Hockey League.

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Major transfers:

Wimbledon –

James Bailey Level: England, GB From: Reading To: Wimbledon England No2 goalkeeper moves to playoff rivals

Ian Sloan Level: Soon to qualify for England and GB From: Loughborough Students To: Wimbledon Ireland international who has deferred from international hockey to qualify to play for England and Great Britain leaves relegated Students to join playoff contenders Wimbledon

Holcombe –

George Pinner Level: England, GB From: Beeston To: Holcombe England and GB No1 goalkeeper moves to Conference side Holcombe to chase promotion

Nick Catlin Level: England, GB From: Reading To: Holcombe England and GB star moves to conference side Holcombe to chase promotion

Iain Lewers Level: England, GB From: East Grinstead To: Holcombe England and GB star moves to conference side Holcombe to chase promotion

Allan Dick Level: Scotland (Retired) From: Holcombe To: Southgate Goalkeeper announced his retirement from international hockey over the summer steps in to fill the big shoes of retired goalkeeper Chris Hibbert

Hampstead and Westminster –

Harry Gibson Level: England U21 From: Loughborough Students To: Hampstead and Westminster England U21 goalkeeper moves south from relegated Loughborough Students to join H&W influx of new players

Andy Hayward Level: New Zealand From: Howick Pakuranga To: Hampstead and Westminster New Zealand penalty corner specialist, who scored 6 goals at the world cup moves to join influx of new players at H&W

Pau Freixa Sureda Level: Spain From: Atlètic Terrassa To: Hampstead and Westminster Spanish star makes the move from Cataluña to Hampstead and Westminster

Harry Slater Level:  From: Reading To: Hampstead and Westminster Experienced Premier League midfielder moves to join Hampstead from Reading

Nick Page Level:  From: Reading To: Hampstead and Westminster Experienced Premier League performer moves to join Hampstead from Reading

Matthew Botha Level: Ex-South Africa From: Royal Antwerp To: Hampstead and Westminster Ex South Africa international adds to Hampstead recruitment

Richard Alexander Level: Former England and GB From: Wimbledon To: Hampstead and Westminster Having taken the job as Head of Hockey at Merchant Taylor’s School, the distinctive “Ratman” moves to Hampstead after a successful spell at Wimbledon.

East Grinstead –

Paddy Smith Level: England, GB From: Cannock To: East Grinstead England and GB goalkeeper moves to East Grinstead to challenge himself in EHL

Chris Griffiths Level: England, GB From: Loughborough Students To: East Grinstead Relegated Loughborough lose their captain who has just broken into the Great Britain central squad

Cannock –

Rob Farrington Level: England U21 From: Loughborough Students To: Cannock England U21 star moves from relegated Loughborough to cup holders Cannock.

David Harris Level:  From: Khalsa To: Cannock North conference player of the year and scorer of 18 goals last season rejoins Cannock after one-year absence

Surbiton –

David Beckett Level: England, GB From: Cannock To: Surbiton England and GB star who struck 13 goals last season leaves cup holders to join playoff contenders Surbiton.

Lewis Prosser Level: Wales From: Gantoise (France) To: Surbiton 2011 Hockey Wales player of the year returns from France after a busy summer including the Commonwealth Game

Nick Cooper Level:  From: University Of Exeter To: Surbiton West conference top scorer last season with 22 goals moves up to the Premier League

Rupert Shipperley Level: Wales From: Cardiff and Met To: Surbiton Brother of England and GB’s Zoe, the Welsh international adds yet more depth to Surbiton squad

William Marshall Level: Scotland From: Sheffield Hallam To: Surbiton Scotland star who impressed last year for relegated Sheffield Hallam and during this summer’s Commonwealth games heads to Sugden road

Beeston –

Jamie Cachia Level: Scotland From: Sheffield Hallam To: Beeston Scotland goalkeeper who starred at Commonwealth Games replaces Pinner at Beeston.

James Gall Level: England U21 From: Surbiton To: Beeston One half of the promising Gall brothers moves to Beeston as he is starting at university in Nottingham

Reading –

Tommy Alexander Level:  From: Indian Gym To: Reading Goalkeeper steps in to compete for the place vacated by James Bailey.

Canterbury –

Stephane Panigoni Level: France From: FC Lyon To: Canterbury French international defender moves with teammate to Kent side

Edgar Reynaud Level: France From: FC Lyon To: Canterbury French goalkeeper makes the move to battle with Diccon Stubbings for the No1 jersey

Juan Martinez Penalver Level: Spain From: Sardinero (Spain) To: Canterbury Spanish defender joins the European contingent at Polo Farm

Team chances:

Team: East Grinstead Last season’s playoff runners-up have returned to European competition after a year’s absence. Captained by former GB star Glenn Kirkham and boasting plenty of international talent in their ranks they will be one of the pre-season favourites

Team: Beeston Reigning champions have lost star goalkeeper George Pinner but still have their core of internationals including Adam Dixon, Ollie Willars, Ben Arnold, Tim Whiteman and Harry Martin

Team: Reading New Head Coach Andy Watts aims to bring his side back into Europe after failing to qualify for the first time in over 20 years.

Team: Surbiton Todd Williams’ side have recruited well with plenty of firepower added to an already potent strike force. Aiming to improve on their third place in last year’s playoffs.

Team: Canterbury Lead by Trinidad and Tobago legend Kwan Browne who  remains one of the best players and best coaches in the league.

Team: Wimbledon In their second season in the top flight Wimbledon have added England star James Bailey in goal and will call on Phil Roper, who impressed at the CWG to fire them to playoffs

Team: Hampstead and Westminster After two disappointing campaigns, Hampstead have made some stellar signings, the most eye catching being that of Blacksticks’ star Andy Hayward who netted six goals at the World Cup.

Team: Cannock All change at Cannock as new coach John Bell aims to build on their NOW: Pensions Men’s Cup win last season and move the team up the league.

Team: Brooklands MU Back after a 1 year absence from the top flight after relegation in 2012-13 Brooklands’ brand of attacking hockey and the penalty corner goals of Peter Flanagan will cause teams plenty of problems.

Team: Southgate Back after one season away from the top flight, new coach, South African Jonty Robinson steps in after the legendary Chris Hibbert retired last season.

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