Watton one match away from title

Watton Ladies face the biggest match in their 30-year history tomorrow as they attempt to bring a top trophy back to Norfolk. The East League outfit have battled through five tough rounds to reach the final of the HA Trophy and now only London outfit Tulse Hill and Dulwich stand between them and national glory.

By CHRIS WISE

Watton Ladies face the biggest match in their 30-year history tomorrow as they attempt to bring a top trophy back to Norfolk.

The East League outfit have battled through five tough rounds to reach the final of the HA Trophy and now only London outfit Tulse Hill and Dulwich stand between them and national glory.

The competition for clubs just below the top level attracts entries from all over the country and Watton beat outfits from as far afield as Yorkshire and Dorset to book their big day out at Chelmsford Hockey Club.

“To reach a national final is an amazing achievement for a club of our size,” said captain Alex Glading. “It's only the second time we have entered the competition so all the players deserve praise for getting this far.

“We have come through some difficult away matches to reach the final and now everyone is determined to finish the job and win the final. We don't know much about our opposition, other than they have had a very good season, but if we play as well as we can then we are confident we can get a result.”

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Watton overcame Welwyn Garden City, Bourne, Leeds & Adel Carnegie, Holcombe (the only home game) and Beaminster to reach the final, which gets under way at 12.15pm.

The match will be played on water-based Astroturf, something Watton are not used to, but the team have used the facilities at Harleston Magpies to help with their preparations and will travel to Essex in good heart.

“We are very grateful to Magpies for their help,” said Alex. “They allowed us to train down there and we also had a practice match, which was very useful.

“We were having a very good build-up until one of our players, Katie Shipp, needed an appendix operation which will obviously rule her out of the final.

“That's really bad luck for Katie but we are hoping she will be well enough to come and watch. We'll miss her on the pitch, but we have got a good squad of players here and I am sure we will be able to cope with her absence.”

Since their formation in the 1970s Watton have slowly but surely grown from a single ladies team, playing on a grass pitch, which the players themselves used to mark out every Saturday morning, to a three team club with a thriving junior section. This summer will finally see an official merger with Watton's men and juniors to form Watton Hockey Club.

The club will have around 100 supporters travelling to Chelmsford for the final. A coach will be setting off from Watton Sports Centre tomorrow morning (contact 01953 881281 for details).

Harleston Magpies will also have a team in action at Chelmsford on Sunday, with the veterans taking on West Country outfit Isca in their national final (2.30pm).

The over-40s team have come through six rounds to reach this stage, with victories over Stevenage, Ipswich and East Suffolk, Southgate, Peterborough, Stourport and Bournville.

“It's only the third year we have entered the competition so to get to the final is great achievement,” said player Jerry Blackmore. “When we first started out it was a bit of an adventure but the further we got the more seriously we took it, so much so that two of us actually delayed holidays so we could play in the semi-final.

“We have been practising hard and although Isca will probably start as slight favourites and we are all confident we can go out there and get a result.”

Magpies (from): David Brown, Jerry Blackmore, Jonathan Aldridge, Alan Falkes, Bob Skinner, Jeremy Podd, David Blackmore, Phillip Cobbald, Ali Williamson, John Wells, Roger Kent, Peter Dolton, Andy Caston, Phillip Alexander.

CAPTION

Watton Ladies line up for the camera:

Front: Ceri David (GK)

Second row, left to right - Sam Jeffery, Melinda Vincent, Sarah Howard, Katie Shipp, Emma Parrott and Sarah Cave

Back row - Sally Rose, Alex Glading (captain), Grace Mitchell, Katy Adcock, Jemma Balls, Lauren Eyles (manager), Vicky Mitchell and Lucy Briggs