Men’s Hockey Pre-Season Report: September 2016

Here we go again: another summer drawing to an end (though the humidity continues), another hockey season begins. As always, there have been and continue to be plenty of changes within the men’s section, with departures and retirements countered by internal promotions and new arrivals both from within Hong Kong and from overseas.
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Pre-season has been excellent, with plenty of numbers showing up to train throughout all of the section’s squads, and teams working hard to get themselves fit and ready for the opening matches of the season. Long may it continue!

First up, the A team come off a much improved 2015/16 season which saw them record some emphatic wins over main contenders SSSC and Khalsa. Whilst they didn’t manage it then, 1st place is all that will do for Gus Allan’s men this time around, with new local players Ishtiaq Malik, Arif Ali and Ken Tsang adding some great talent to a team which has more depth than ever, also buoyed by the return of former GB international Howard Hoskins after a long spell out due to injury.

After a disappointing season last year, new captain James Hills-Ingyon has been rallying his troops in the B team hard in pre-season. Despite losing a significant number of their squad, the team has recruited magnificently, adding more young talent such as Windfall Monthong and Phillip Boetger to their ranks alongside returning veteran Chris Marshall, all leading to a B team that – on paper – looks the best it’s ever been. If the team is able to match it’s potential, they should be aiming for a top five prem finish this time around.

Another new captain to take the leadership bull by the horns has been Anthony Ford of the First Division C team. He has had the team once again doing extra fitness sessions and the commitment from all players has been exemplary. The team welcomes some new addition Jonathan Broughton alongside young talent Hon Li and Gareth Mak, who should both inject a bit of pace into the team as it once again challenges to go one better than the previous year, having progressed from 3rd to 2nd place during last season.

The D team, having proved themselves worthy of their First Division place in their maiden season in senior hockey, will be looking to take on board last year’s lessons and improve even further. Youth player Gwen Laot has stepped up and must hold the record for the youngest captain the Club has ever had. Players who have moved up the ranks have already been replaced with the next wave of promising and very capable young stars such as Sam Pijpers and Conrad Syzmanski. Having needed to scrape for survival towards the end of last season, this year they should be aiming to establish themselves comfortably mid-table.

A new leadership team all round for the Second Division E team with Raj Mathur and Christian Keegan stepping up to the captain and VC roles respectively. Their team will be home to a number of father-son pairings this year, with Findlay Mayo joining dad Stuart, and Kit Studholme-Wilson joining former section chairman Nick. Let’s hope the dads are able to keep up come the season end, and we’ll also be hoping the team will be sitting within the top three of the league as well!

John Banks’ F Team face off the G Team once again in the Third Division, though the Gs are now headed up by new captain Colin Terry. With a bit of shuffling between the two teams as well as the Hs it’s hoped things will remain competitive. Having only remained in the league given a restructuring of the leagues over the summer, the Gs should be aiming for mid-table safety from the relegation spots this year; the Fs will want to be placing as high up the table as possible, with top three a target again.

And last but by no means least, the H Team, led by Quentin Burrows, will be looking to improve on last season’s second consecutive 9th spot finish in the Fifth Division. More goals would be an added bonus this season, and a strong number regularly turning out for games will be a huge help for that.