Wimbledon Men’s 1s hockey team will look to retain their title as the best club in the country for a third year when they return to the pitch on Sunday.
The team became national champions for a second time at the Olympic Park in April this year, beating rivals Reading 4-3 on penalty shuffles.
“It was an amazing feeling,” said director Ben Marsden.
“We were over the moon.”
Going for an unprecedented third consecutive title, the team are certainly within a chance of cementing their position as the new juggernauts of English hockey.
They expect to stay within the top four this season, hoping some of their exciting new signings could help.
These include 32-year-old Simon Mantell, a GB international player, two-time Olympian and immensely experienced forward – with a total of 218 caps, Mantell is sure to give the team an edge.
Another to watch is Ben Arnold, 26, who made his England debut against India four years ago and has 22 caps.
On Sunday, September 18 the team will play Brooklands as they begin the challenge of defending their title.
The men’s team boast Ben Hawes, three-time Olympian and former Team GB hockey captain, as their coach, but retaining their place at the top will not be a breeze, as huge rivals Holcombe threaten to cause a stir.
“They have a number of international players,” said Marsden.
“They are very strong.”
Surbiton and Hampstead & Westminster also pose big threats in the Premier Division.
“We need to be as prepared as we can,” Marsden said.
Wimbledon were missing seven players for pre-season due to Olympic commitments, but this has not affected the team’s high standards.
“Pre-season is going well,” Marsden said.
“We had seven players at Rio so they needed a rest period, but they are coming back in now.
“The other players are also at a really high level.”
The Ladies 1s team are equally not to be underestimated, having recruited some very strong players.
These include Beeston captain Suzy Petty, who has previously played for England.
Wimbledon Men’s 1s play Brooklands at King’s College School sports ground on Sunday, September 18 at 2pm.