‘We found our self-belief and discipline when it mattered’

Hockey: South Premier Division 1: Horsham v Henley. Pic Steve Robards SR1636104 SUS-161212-104836001
Hockey: South Premier Division 1: Horsham v Henley. Pic Steve Robards SR1636104 SUS-161212-104836001

Horsham completed their South Premier Division 1 season with a unlucky draw in a dead-rubber game away to Henley.

After horrendous traffic which caused the match to be delayed, it ended honours even as Matt Hough’s short corner was levelled up by the home side in the second half.

Hockey South Premier Division 1: Horsham v Old Cranleighans. team manager Al Campbell. Pic Steve Robards SR1704396 SUS-170603-123024001

Hockey South Premier Division 1: Horsham v Old Cranleighans. team manager Al Campbell. Pic Steve Robards SR1704396 SUS-170603-123024001

Given Horsham’s track record there over the years it was considered a good result by manager Al Campbell. However, the rather scanty scoreline belies the true story of the game.

Horsham had nothing to risk, guaranteed ninth place in the league and safe from relegation.

Accordingly, needing to support lower sides in the club, some squad players were allocated elsewhere.

With other first-team players absent, Horsham arrived with only 13, three of them colts, of whom two were complete newbies.

Coach Dom Male started with a half-court press, frustrating Henley and letting Horsham counter on the break.

Ten minutes in, one such break saw John Burroughs win a short corner which Hough stepped up to convert.

Thereafter Horsham should have scored five or six more. In the first half, Hough hit the post and Burroughs missed a sitter.

In the second half, Hough again hit the post and open chances were squandered.

With Isaacs in fine form, it was a Dom Male mistake that let Henley win an unlikely point.

Due to a rally that brought 19 points since Christmas and saw relegation avoided, Horsham end the season on 26 points, four short of the target set in September.

At the club dinner on Saturday evening, Dom Cohen was crowned player of the season, Russell Self won The Sparky Goblet as most improved player, and Cirdec Atkinson received the captain’s award.

Sadly all three are unavailable next season – Cohen and Atkinson will retire, and Self is off to do a masters degree.

At the opposite end of the scale the three colts that played – Jean Marshall, Austin Stamper-Healy and Sam Bugler – look set to continue the Horsham tradition of home-grown talent.

Manager Campbell sum-med up the season quite simply. He said: “It has been a baptism of fire, a massive learning curve, and a group of terrific guys who found self-belief and discipline just when it mattered.”

Horsham have one fixture remaining, a defence of the Sussex Cup against Worthing on April 23.