Surbiton hockey teams target European run after domestic dominance

Rhys Noye-Allen
March 12 2020, 12.15

The two teachers in charge of Surbiton’s men’s and women’s hockey teams are schooling the rest of the division on how to win matches.

Both sides are top of their respective leagues, giving them home advantage in the play-off semi-finals at the end of the season.

Surbiton men’s coach Mark Pearn was confident his side would challenge for the title this season, but admitted he was surprised by how convincing they have been.

“We’ve been in the final the last three years, so I am not surprised by where we are,” he explained.

“But I guess being undefeated and winning so many games is a little surprising.

“Especially considering we knew we would be without our international players for certain parts of the season, because they go away with GB.

“To have come through all of those games undefeated and to have won the indoor title as well, we are very pleased by where we are.”

Topping the table also means both sides have qualified for the European Hockey League (EHL) next year.

Surbiton men will face Dutch club Bloemendaal in the quarter final of the EHL on 9 April after beating Russian side Dinamo Kazan 4-1 in the round of 16.

Pearn experienced European glory as a player but acknowledges that it will not be easy for this squad to replicate his success.

Table toppers: Alice Sharp in action against Hampstead and Westminster (Tim Reder)

“When I played for Reading 17 years ago, we won the European title,” he said. “But nowadays there is a lot more strength in the Dutch and Belgian leagues.

“We are having to play against high quality teams with lots of part-time and full-time players at the club.

“It is always going to be difficult for English clubs to compete, but in one off game, we can compete with them.

“It is just about playing our best in individual matches because we know we can beat these sides, even though their leagues are stronger.”

Surbiton women face German side Club and der Alster in the quarter final of the EHL on 9 April.

Women’s coach Brett Garrard explained that given Surbiton’s domestic dominance, it is the European competition which defines their season.

He said: “Each year we have had this real focus around the European cup, which has historically fallen after a league play off and, obviously, the culmination of a league season.

“The big thing for us is that it is not necessarily winning during the league season that defines us.

“It is actually how much progress we can make in preparation for some of those really tough bits come the end of the season.”

Image credit: Tim Redder

Related Articles