Surbiton Hockey Club’s Hannah Martin fulfilled a lifetime ambition by scoring on her home international debut in front of a boisterous crowd on Saturday.
Making just her fifth appearance for her country, Martin converted a clever penalty corner routine to score her first goal for England and level the match at 1-1 against Argentina at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
England would go on to lose 5-1 to their ruthless South American opponents but even that could not wipe the beaming grin off her face after the game.
“It felt unbelievable to score,” the former Ipswich and University of Birmingham midfielder said.
“It overrode the disappointment a tiny bit because the result wasn’t great but obviously we’re still in a development phase.
“I just had such a big smile on my face – it was really cool to score my first goal.”
The strike was yet another high point for Martin in a fabulous few months that has seen her selected as part of the England and Great Britain squad ahead of Tokyo 2020 and make her international debut against South Africa in February.
She has also acquired many fans with her consistently impressive performances for Surbiton this year and was a key figure in their league and cup double as well as a historic fourth-placed finish at the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup earlier this month.
But for Martin nothing will beat opening her international scoring account on home soil in front of some very vociferous support.
“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” the 22-year-old said.
“This is what I’ve been hoping for throughout my whole career. I’ve gone through the England Hockey pathway and this is the pinnacle.
“It’s just fantastic to show what I can do.”
The fixture against Argentina may have ended in disappointment for England but there was much more to cheer about following the match against The Netherlands the next day.
The hotly anticipated clash against the world number one outfit was deemed by many to be a rematch of August’s Olympic final and it certainly lived up to expectations.
Having trailed 2-0 at half-time, England hit back hard in the second half with Alex Danson’s 100th international goal halving the deficit before Sophie Bray converted an outrageous cross from Susannah Townsend to take the game to a penalty shootout.
While this time it was the Dutch who would emerge victorious – winning the shootout 4-3 – Martin believed putting in an impressive performance just 24 hours after such a heavy defeat was much more important than the overall result.
She said: “It was a massive feat to get ourselves up for this game.
“Argentina are third in the world and suffering a 5-1 defeat wasn’t great.
“But we really picked ourselves up – we knew that if we came together as a team and we put fight in then we’d come out with a result and I think we really showed that out there.
“It was really good to come back from 2-0 down to get to 2-2.
“The crowd was absolutely amazing, they really were our 12th man. The atmosphere was just amazing and I really, really enjoyed the opportunity.”