Interview: Felix Styles, Blues Hockey Captain

GIANPIERO ROSCELLI chats to Felix Styles ahead of this weekend’s Varsity clash.

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Felix Styles in action earlier this year

Just before their big game against The Other Place on Sunday, The Tab manage to catch a quick word with Blues Hockey Captain Felix Styles about the team’s chances of success, being a finalist, and Thin Lizzy.

Are you nervous ahead of the ‘big one’?
At this stage we are all feeling more excited than nervous. On the day itself there are always a few nerves, but once we step out of the tunnel everyone will be 100% focused on the task at hand. It’s natural for players to feel nervous about the Varsity match. The trick is to manage that by approaching the game with our usual routine. In any case, we will be less nervous than Oxford, who will probably consider themselves slight favourites given their league position. The pressure will be on them.

How did the terrible weather conditions in January affect you and your team’s preparation for this weekend?
The January cold snap meant we couldn’t use the hockey pitch, but this allowed us to do a lot of work on fitness, strength and conditioning. It also led to the rearrangement of many league games, causing a series of double-headers over the past month. This has stretched the players physically but ultimately has given us a lot of match experience. We managed it well, so it has not affected our preparation too badly.

Cambridge haven’t lost a game all season in the BCUS league

Is it more difficult being captain and giving the orders, or being a team member and actually putting the orders into practise?
You would have to ask the players that! Our coach, Chris Marriott, has been an instrumental part of the squad, so it’s often his orders we are putting into practice. There is a lot of communication going on during a game anyway, it’s not as simple as just me constantly shouting at the other ten players. If I’m out of position or not marking tight enough, I would trust my team-mates to let me know about it!

In your eyes, has there been a standout performance by the team during the season, and has there been a star player so far?
It has been fantastic to watch the team improve over the year, particularly since January when we really started fulfilling our potential. Our standout performance this season was probably last Saturday’s 5-1 win against Chelmsford, who are a very decent side. I could not possibly name a star player; all 16 members of the squad have played a part in the team’s successes so far.

Cambridge were dominant against Chelmsford last weekend

You’re top of the BUCS Division Midlands 3B table so far with a game in hand over those chasing you. You must be delighted with the success you and the team have managed to achieve?
We only entered BUCS last year, getting promoted and winning the Midlands Cup. We are on course to do the same again this season, so ultimately the aim is to make it to the highest level of BUCS hockey. At the moment, BUCS is a chance to field a side with a mixture of players from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams – which is great for club spirit.

What has it been like managing the workload as a finalist and championing a team to success?
I’m a historian, so enjoy a lot more flexibility in terms of contact hours than many of my team-mates. This does mean that it would have been very easy for hockey to take over my life completely, so I have had to be careful in order to stay on top of work. My thoughts have never been far from hockey, but with a reasonable amount of organisation (and a limited social life) managing sport and work hasn’t been too difficult. I am very aware that there are many people at Cambridge doing far more extra-curricular stuff than me!

Easy does it: will tempers flare when the oldest universities meet?

What will your last words to the team be before you head out onto the pitch on Saturday afternoon?
This is going to make me sound really boring, but I want to approach the Varsity match in the same way we have prepared every other game this year. I’ll say a few words before we step out, but I will mainly be reminding everyone that it is just a game of hockey, and that we are well prepared for it. The atmosphere at Southgate is electric – there’ll be no need for extra hype or motivation!

Southgate Hockey Club, in North London, is the venue for Sunday’s crucial match

What song will get you pumped up on the journey down to London?
Thankfully, I’m not in charge of the matchday mixtape. Everyone usually contributes a song, with the highlights of last year’s mix being Keep on Movin’ by 5ive and The Boys Are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy. I expect this year’s CD will provide many more classic tunes…

You can only choose one – starred first degree or being a victorious captain defeating Oxford?
I can only really give one answer to that: GDBO.

Tickets for this weekend’s encounter are still available. You can sort your transport here