Surbiton men’s hockey team will progress to the Euro Hockey League next season to face some of the best teams in the world.
They beat Canterbury in the play-off semi-final earlier this month, ensuring that next season they will play amongst Europe’s elite.
Fergus Dunn, one of Surbiton’s most influential players, said he was extremely excited about playing in front of huge crowds at hockey’s biggest club tournament, the European Hockey League: “They have invested a lot in the TV coverage and as a result it gets a great number of viewers,” said Mr Dunn.
The biggest prize in hockey
Surbiton coach Todd Williams compared it to football’s biggest competition. “Much like the Champions League in football, it is the pre-eminent club competition in Europe – as simple as that,” he said.
Captain Ben Tiball added: “It’s massive, to get into Europe next year not just for us but for the club. Big crowds and trips abroad, it will be huge and an amazing experience.”
A chance for glory
Surbiton have had a successful season. Unfortunately the men’s team could not win the division, coming runners up to Beeston but can still win silverware when they play Hampton & Westminster in the cup final on May 4.
They also have two players who represented Team GB in last summer’s Olympics in London.
Mr Williams hopes that playing in Europe can help attract more stars to the club. He said: “Now that we have Europe to look forward to, I’m sure we will have more and more top players looking to join us.”
Hockey on the rise
Due to the success of the British teams in last summer’s Olympics, hockey has become more popular, with the English Hockey Board announcing that 30,000 more people are playing the game compared to this time last year.
Funding from the English Hockey Board meant Surbiton were able to promote a weekend of hockey at the club, which attracted big crowds.
Mr Dunn believes that playing in the Euro League next season increases their chances of having a permanent stand, which would be funded through the increased advertisement the club expects to receive.