Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1999 treble-winning side, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the 90s and the current Australia Women’s T20 side.
All of these teams have dominated their respective fields, they are dynasties whose legacy is an ever-present cloud over the sport as a whole.
But even Ferguson, Jordan and the Aussies would envy the success that Surbiton Hockey Club’s Ladies First Team have seen over the last decade.
Eight years has brought eight consecutive Women’s Premier League titles to their home ground Sugden Road, with the only exception the covid year of 2020-21, in which the league was not held.
As last year’s English champions, Surbiton have qualified for hockey’s equivalent of football’s Champions League, the Euro Hockey League (EHL). But, despite all their success, it’s still down to them to raise their own funds to be able to compete with the elite.
As is so often the case with English hockey, funding remains the perennial issue in the sport.
As a group, Surbiton have had to pool their links and contacts together to raise the funds needed for their trip to Europe’s biggest stage, and are currently holding a silent auction with a number of prizes to provide the necessary money.
Great Britain and Surbiton Ladies First Team player Hannah Martin explained: “For us it’s a huge expense on the club and we understood that as a team we’ll have to fundraise towards it so us as players don’t have to put in hundreds of pounds while we’re trying to compete with the best in Europe.
“We wanted to make sure that we did our part for the club. Surbiton does so much for us as a team and we wanted to make sure that we give back and raise enough funds to send us out there and put us in a really good stead to compete and concentrate on our hockey.
“Some of the best clubs in the world compete in the EHL and for us that’s where we want to be, alongside the best, but unfortunately the funding just isn’t there in this country in women’s hockey and in women’s sport in general.”
Indeed, Surbiton themselves are equal in their payments across the men and women’s squad which is part of the reason why they’re so respected as a club, however this is not the case across all hockey clubs.
“The women’s side in general receives less funding and that’s something we’re trying to change,” Hannah said.
“The German and the Dutch teams are better funded but comparably with their male counterparts they aren’t getting the same amount of funding.”
In the week of International Women’s Day, Hannah spoke about more money being invested into women’s sport to encourage young girls to get involved in sporting activities, particularly commenting on the recent Government grant of £600m for schools.
“Investment in women’s sport will allow people more opportunities to play and it’s a crucial part of the development of more girls playing sport,” Hannah said.
“What the Lionesses have done is incredible and it’s amazing seeing that £600m is now being put into school sport and making sure there is PE every week. Sport is an incredible part of life and being exposed to it from a young age develops you as a person as well as on the field.
“We just have to keep pushing as much as we can as females in sport and I know women in sport are emerging and it’s more visible now. When I was growing up there was a lack of female role models but now with the Lionesses’ success we try to jump on that too and women’s sport is becoming much more visible.
“You need more role models and exposure to ensure the next generation come along and we need to keep championing women’s sport and pushing it out there.”
The team have put together a silent auction to raise funds for their trip, with top of the range prizes such as a signed Mason Mount Chelsea FC shirt, a spa break for two at Pennyhill Park and two tickets to the summer clash between England and Wales at Twickenham all on offer.
Alongside the auction the team have organised a cinema night for the junior club and are hosting the England Hockey Premier League Play-off finals on April 1st and 2nd.
The proceeds of the auction and cinema night will help fund the team’s journey into Europe as they look to tackle some of the best teams in the world, flying the flag not just for England but also for women’s sport in general.
The fundraiser continues for another three weeks and can be found here: https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/SHCLadies1s