Six hockey players from Haslemere Hockey Club have represented their countries at the recent European Championships for masters hockey, held in Nottingham and Valencia – bringing home three medals and scoring five international goals between them.
Mel Redman brought back a gold medal after the England Women’s over-50s side beat the Netherlands 1-0 in a tight final in Nottingham.
This was the first time many regular players from this England side had won gold in the European Championships as they have lost to the Dutch in the previous three tournaments.
The England side had an exciting semi-final against Germany, winning on penalty shuffles after the match had finished 2-2.
They also beat France, Spain, Ireland and Wales, with Redman scoring two goals against Wales in their opening group match.
Heidi Wells also brought back a gold medal when the England Women’s over-55s side won their tournament in Valencia, beating Scotland 2-0 in the final.
Wells’ England team remained unbeaten throughout the tournament, without conceding a goal.
Wells scored one goal for England in their 5-0 defeat of Spain.
Neil Francis narrowly missed out on a medal when his Welsh over-55s side lost 1-0 to England in the bronze medal match in Valencia.
Nine European nations entered teams in this age group and Wales performed well, beating Scotland and Ireland, drawing against Spain but losing narrowly to Germany.
The match against England was very tight but Wales conceded a goal in the final quarter and could not break England’s solid defence.
“Not only are you battling with some high-quality international teams, you are also battling with the conditions,” said Francis.
“It is difficult to explain what playing hockey is like when the temperature in the shade exceeds 35 degrees and there is no shade on the pitch.”
Wells agreed. She said: “The high temperatures were definitely a challenge and trying to stay hydrated before, during and after was so important to be able to give the best performance on the pitch.”
Peter Williams also represented Wales in Valencia, playing for the men’s over-70s side that missed out on playing in the semi-final through goal difference.
They won three matches and drew one, but lost the decisive games against England and Germany.
Williams managed to score a goal for his Welsh side, despite playing full-back.
“It is a lovely city to spend a couple of weeks – albeit a bit hot for hockey,” he said.
“We had games at 8.30am and 8.15pm – but at least there were none in the mid-afternoon.”
Al Shedden was selected to represent Scotland in the Scottish Thistles over-55 team in the Spirit of Masters event, which is a friendly competition running alongside the European Championships.
Shedden has been training with the Scottish Men’s over-55 team since November 2022 and as they had so many good players in this age group, they sent an extra team to Valencia.
Shedden’s side brought back a bronze medal, which was an excellent achievement.
Iain Lynch also represented the Scotland Thistles team in an older age group and they lost two close games, to an English side and a Dutch side, which meant they did not qualify for the play-offs.
Lynch – who scored a goal for Scotland at the event – has been playing for the Scottish Thistles team for a few years now.
“The experience is always amazing and I find the opposition always welcome us like long-lost friends on and off the pitch,” he said.
Anyone who would like more information on Haslemere Hockey Club should visit its website for further details.