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East Grinstead await Holcombe man and women in their opening Premier Division games

By Luke Cawdell

Holcombe chairman David South is predicting a tougher challenge in the national leagues this season.

The men’s and women’s teams both finished second in their league campaigns last term before a third-place play-off finish for the men and a runners-up spot for the women.

However, their rivals have strengthened heavily over the summer and will be mounting a big challenge.

Holcombe chairman David South

Holcombe chairman David South

Both teams travel to East Grinstead for their opening Premier Division games on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a tough season,” said Mr South.

“There is more money in the game and our rivals have strengthened considerably, with the likes of Surbiton, Wimbledon and Hampstead all making some major signings.

“We have done OK ourselves but they have certainly raised the bar this season, two or three notches.”

Among those joining the men’s team are England midfielder David Ames and South African defender Mo Mea.

David Fox has quit international hockey, which means he will be playing full-time for Holcombe. GB stars Barry Middleton and George Pinner are staying on.

Holcombe are in the Euro KO16 stage this year, taking their place among the continent’s elite after champions Surbiton decided against competing.

The women are in European competition for the first time, entering at the first hurdle, the KO32 stage.

Like the men, they will again be playing top-level club hockey.

“We have picked up some good signings and I am hopeful of us doing well,” Mr South said.

Holcombe have welcomed a trio of Welsh international players to the club. Goalkeeper Rose Thomas has joined, along with defender Jo Westwood and the versatile Beth Bingham.

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