Barely a month after securing their National Hockey League future with dramatic relegation play-off victories over Oxton and Indian Gymkhana, Fareham have announced the first of three marquee signings for next season’s Western Conference campaign.
Fareham-raised Luke Cornish will be returning to the Henry Cort club after two seasons with Loughborough University, where his goals helped the students into the Premier Division, the top flight of National League hockey.
Cornish explained: “I’m on a business degree course at Loughborough and begin a year’s work placement this autumn.
“I’ll be based locally, so will be back at Fareham, where I began lifting a hockey stick as a five year old.
“I was at Fareham for 14 years as we worked our up through the leagues and into the national pyramid, which has been a fantastic achievement.
“I’ve had two superb seasons at Loughborough, winning two BUCS Championships and scoring our winning goal in the recent final, but there’s nothing like going back to your home club.
“The lads fought tooth and nail to retain their National League status at the end of the season and I hope that I can score a few goals to make their passage a bit easier when we start again in September.”
Fareham manager Nigel Cook is delighted Cornish is returning to the club.
“We’ve been lacking a goalscorer, the absence of which was the root of our problems this past season,” he explained.
"Luke is an intelligent young lad and an intelligent young player who has been involved with the England junior set up and has been playing quality hockey.
“He has Fareham blood in his veins and we’re absolutely delighted to have him back.”
Cook added that the club will be announcing two other marquee signings during the course of the summer.
Fareham will renew their long standing rivalry with newly promoted neighbours Havant, the South Premier League champions, this autumn, but Chichester have switched to the Eastern Conference.
Winchester Boys have been crowned national Under-14 champions after qualifying for the Lee Valley Olympic Park finals via the county and regional rounds and then beating highly fancied Surbiton 2-0 in the final.
But their ultimate success was far from straight-forward as they needed a helping hand from Canterbury to win their four-club group and qualify for the final, writes Mike Vimpany.
They beat Canterbury 5-0 and Wakefield 2-0, but having lost 2-0 to Leicester needed Canterbury to beat the East Midlanders 3-1 and so put Winchester in the final on goal difference.
Preparation was the key as Winchester trained on the Lee Valley surface the evening before the eight-club tournament and were fully prepared.
Harry Croft-Baker bagged a hat-trick, Matty Duncombe scored a wonder goal and Rory Penrose converted a penalty stroke to give Winchester a 5-0 win over Canterbury.
A 2-0 defeat by Leicester chilled Winchester’s joy, but the Hampshire champions bounced back with Croft-Baker and Penrose scoring in the win over Wakefield.
Croft-Baker gave Winchester a deserved 1-0 cup final lead with his fifth goal of the tournament – an advantage the side ought to have built on before their top scorer was pulled down in the D and Penrose rifled home the resulting penalty flick to give the city side the trophy.
Surbiton threw everything forward after that, but Winchester battened down the hatches to carry off a magnificent win.
Winchester’s championship winning squad, pictured, was: Will Whitmore (Captain), Frank Struthers, Will Evans, Freddie Peters, Tom Henley, Rory Penrose, Charlie Johnson, Matty Duncombe, Giles Hocking, Harry Croft-Baker, Felix Northover, Oli Gage, Will Jackson, Sam Boon, Sam Dowek, Will Crompton, Freddie Coulson, and Hobie Ambrose, who missed the finals through illness.
The Hampshire Open League Cup is back in Fareham’s hands for the first time in four years after two goals by Tom 'Pudsey' Seebold helped secure a 3-1 win over Haslemere II.
Seebold put a patched-up and under-strength Fareham ahead from an early penalty corner, but Elliott Hall equalised for Haslemere in the second half. Fareham wasted several chances before Dave Roche and Seebold struck late on to clinch the trophy.
Jade Lock, pictured, was the hat-trick hero as New Forest Ladies beat Petersfield 4-1 to win the Hampshire Women’s Trophy.
She notched her threesome after Rachel Lloyd had fired New Forest into an early lead from a penalty stroke. Forest were three goals up and effectively out of sight at 3-0 up before Jenny Sinclair clawed a goal back for Petersfield. Lock’s hat-trick goal settled it.
Trojans girls had to repel a determined Romsey comeback before celebrating their Hampshire Women’s Under-16 Cup success with a 3-2 win. It looked plain sailing when Emily Harris and Eli Lloyd-Tunstall fired Trojans into a two-goal lead, but Romsey fought back with Joe Harrison and Sophie Lawson making it 2-2. But Emily Harris hit Trojans’ second half winner.
Fareham girls are all smiles after coming from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 in the Women’s Under-14 Cup final.
Issie Chapman and Gracie Coleman wiped out Bournemouth’s early lead to give Fareham the cup in their first season in the competition. They had previously beaten Haslemere 1-0, Aldershot & Farnborough 5-3 and Winchester 4-0 to reach the final.
Southampton’s Sue Merry presents the Roger Merry Memorial Trophy to Phil Larcombe after Fareham beat Bournemouth 5-3 to become the inaugural winners of the Hampshire Boys’ Under-14 Cup.
Fareham took an early lead from a Fergus Jackson penalty stroke, but Bournemouth hit back to snatch the lead themselves through a Charlie Collinge equaliser and a second goal from James Steavenson.
Soren Golding restored parity and by half-time Phil Larcombe had given Fareham a 3-2 advantage.
When Sam Radcliffe stretched the lead to 4-2 it appeared all over bar the proverbial shouting, but Bournemouth refused to lie down and scored a third through Steavenson.
Adam Shergold’s fifth proved a winner for Fareham, who missed a late penalty stroke when Jackson hit the upright.
* Fareham are holding a ‘have a go’ Back to Hockey open evening at their Henry Cort pitch for the next four Fridays (6.30pm) when youngsters can get a taste for the game, which is growing every more popular.
Havant regained the Hampshire Men’s Hockey Shield with a 3-1 cup final win over plucky Wimborne Wayfarers at Aldershot.
Andrew Lloyd scored twice for Havant, who will rejoin Fareham in the National League Western Conference next season having won the South Premier League title recently.
Lloyd fired Havant ahead, but Hugo Moon levelled things up for the Dorset underdogs.
Wimborne remained firmly in the game, until Mike Della-Merricks restored Havant’s lead on the stroke of half-time. Lloyd’s second after the restart settled it.
Southampton Ladies put up a terrific fight before losing 1-0 to hot favourites Basingstoke in the Women’s Cup final.
Roxy Odea’s second half winner won the day for Stoke, who have celebrated a second consecutive South Women’s League promotion this season.
Salisbury carried off the Men’s Trophy with a 2-1 win over Aldershot & Farnham.
Cup final results –
Men’s Cup: Havant 3 Wimborne Wayfarers 1
Men’s Trophy: Aldershot & Farnham 1 Salisbury 2
Men’s Open League Cup: Fareham II 3 Haslemere II 1
Open League Trophy: Southampton III 1 Basingstoke IV 0
Boys’ Under-18: Bournemouth 0 Winchester 2
Boys Under-16: Bournemouth 3 Havant 3 (Bournemouth won 3-2 on strokes)
Boys Under-14: Fareham 5 Bournemouth 3
Ladies Cup: Southampton 0 Basingstoke 1
Ladies Trophy: New Forest 4 Petersfield 1
Girls Under-18: Havant 0 Trojans 5
Girls Under-16: Trojans 3 Romsey 2
Girls Under-14: Fareham 2 Winchester 1
Southampton carried off England Hockey’s Vase trophy with a 3-1 win over Yorkshire League champions Brigg – and immediately dedicated their victory to the club’s Director of Coaching Roger Merry, who died last autumn, just before the start of the season.
“It was the most amazing way for us to say thank you to Roger, who was a legend in local hockey,” said departing player/coach Rob O’Brien, who celebrated his farewell Southampton appearance with the opening goal of the final.
“It was Roger who encouraged most of us to take up hockey and, but for him, a lot of us wouldn’t have been at such an iconic venue as the Olympic Park and winning a national final.
“I’m sure he was looking down on us with a smile, analysing and dissecting the game in his own way.
“He was the first person we thought about when the final whistle blew and we went up to collect the cup.”
Southampton became the fifth local side in the past ten years after Andover, Winchester, Camberley & Farnborough and Haslemere to win the Vase.
But against a Scunthorpe-based Brigg side that was looking to add Lea Valley silverware to the Yorkshire League title they clinched recently, they were probably underdogs in the final.
Nonetheless, Southampton took the initiative and were ahead inside five minutes – O’Brien seeing his penalty corner drag flick charged down, but being able to reverse stick the rebound into the bottom left corner.
It was a poignant moment for O’Brien, who was wearing Southampton’s colours for the last time before moving to Newcastle in August.
“It was a see-saw affair until half-time with Brigg pushing forward, but being unable to unlock our defence, where goalkeeper Toby Rigby excelled and skipper Bryn Webber was unflappable,” O’Brien added.
Brigg’s pressure was rewarded with a Dan Clay short corner equaliser nine minutes after the break.
But Southampton’s response was immediate – chances being created before a fine solo run by Oscar Rigby down the left led to a short corner, which George Watling deflected into the top corner to restore the lead.
Brigg pushed forward, but Southampton repelled their attacks before striking the decisive third goal two minutes from the end.
Simon Watson picked out Charlie Griffiths unmarked in the D and the left-back made it 3-1 with a cute deflection and win the cup for Southampton.
It was his one and only goal for the season !
The departing O’Brien choked back the tears of joy on the final whistle.
“To bow out with a national cup winner’s trophy at my childhood club is a dream come true.
“The boys stood up to a strong Brigg team and showed their class and pedigree.
“This a stepping stone for what this first team can go on to succeed,” he smiled.
Skipper Bryn Webber reflected: “There were a lot of nerves, naturally. But the Olympic Park was a fantastic environment to play in and I just hope we get the opportunity to come here again.”
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