PICTURE SPECIAL: Meet Chichester’s new hockey heroes

Chichester is hailing a new group of city hockey heroes.

A year after Chichester Hockey Club’s men’s first team reached a national cup final at the Olympic Park in London, their female counterparts have gone one better.

The men put up a brave fight but lost to Beeston in the England Hockey national cup final, but the women reached the England Hockey Vase final – and won it.

It’s the biggest achievement ever by a women’s team from the city and shows the club is going from strength to strength and enjoying unprecdented levels of success.

The ladies had a long wait for their big day.

It had been a year since the men had their turn, four weeks since the last league game, and two weeks since the vase semi-final before the team and many family, friends and fellow club members could head to Lee Valley.

Chichester celebrate at Lee Valley / Picture by Stephen Goodger

Chichester celebrate at Lee Valley / Picture by Stephen Goodger

The girls couldn’t have done more in preparation, having trained with the men’s first XI and top club coaches – and they were raring to go. Their opponents in the final, the last game in a long day of big hockey finals, were Amersham and Chalfont. It ended with Chi winning 4-3 on penalty shuffles.

The game was nail-biting, end-to-end stuff. Chichester were first on the scoreboard on the iconic blue surface after a phenomenal deflection by Demelza Peake.

Amersham and Chalfont came back in the second half to level the scores.

Chi didn’t realise but it was to be decided by penalty shuffles – they had thought it was strokes. This was the first time the girls had ever had to perform penalty shuffles, so they took the moment with both hands and shifted the goalie three times to take it to sudden death.

Their lap of honour was a moment which will be remembered for years and the celebrations went into the early hours of the next morning,

Cita Haines sealed the deal for Chi after making the goalie move and pushing the ball past her.

It was an incredible moment for the team and their supporters, one which will never be forgotten.

The 200 strong crowd went wild as the team’s thanks went out to their coaches and all the backroom staff – but most importantly their travelling support who made sure they fought to the end.

Their lap of honour was a moment which will be remembered for years and the celebrations went into the early hours of the next morning,

Captain Verena Sambel is stepping down next season, but it was a special moment as she went to receive the trophy alongside vice-captain Meg Goring.

After narrowly missing out on winning the league, the team made sure Sambel finished the season on a high after her hard work and dedication throughout the campaign.

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