Hockey Blues Warm-Up For Varsity
HOCKEY: The Blues take on The Other Place this weekend in a bid to win their first Varsity match in four years.
The Cambridge hockey Blues have entered the final week of preparation for their Varsity match on Sunday 11th March at Southgate HC.
The Light Blues, led by their ex-Scotland U21 international Nick Parkes, have much to avenge. Oxford’s 5-2 triumph last year made it three victories in a row for the City of Dreaming Spires.
After a shaky start to the season, Cambridge soon found their feet in the East Premier League, the third tier of English hockey, embarking on an unbeaten run of 8 matches stretching from November to February – including a memorable defeat of league leaders West Herts.
Last Saturday saw the Blues descend upon Essex-based Havering for an exercise in controlled demolition. A phenomenal Bennett strike set the team on their way, before Kennedy grabbed a hat-trick to complete the 4-1 win and maintain his own Van Persie-esque scoring record. On Saturday 10th, the Blues face Norwich City at home in the league before travelling down to Southgate for the small matter of Varsity the following day.
This year the Light Blues can count on a wealth of experience, with nine players of the sixteen-man squad having played a part in last year’s fixture. Valuable additions from last year’s 2nd team include roving right-back Dave McLean, midfield dynamo Jim Charleston, and Charlie Bennett. Kennedy has stormed into the Blues with 21 league goals to his name, while Charles Hardy has provided the forward line with a blistering turn of pace. These reinforcements, along with freshers Will Cairns and Rory Preston, will make Cambridge a very different proposition from the side that lost the 2011 match.
Vice-captain and Belgian import Felix Styles will marshal the Light Blue defence in front of keeper Graeme Morrison, along with the help of Dan Balding and Trinity pair Cairns and Harrison. Meanwhile the England U18-capped northern powerhouse Rupert ‘Bear’ Allison will pull the strings in midfield with Parkes and Preston. Up front, veteran striker Sam Grimshaw will lead the line for the Cambridge attack along with Kennedy and Hardy, with speed merchant Ollie Salvesen and Mark Borsuk waiting in the wings.
While Oxford will go into the game as favourites, coach Chris Marriott remains confident of causing an upset: “The boys have looked really sharp in training recently and we’ve put together a decent run of results. We’re in a good place right now and I think we might just surprise a few people.”
The hockey club are putting on supporters’ coaches down to Southgate for both the men’s and women’s Blues games, leaving Wilberforce Road at 11.30 on Sunday 11th March and returning to Cambridge in the evening. Booking tickets could not be easier.