Report and photographs from John Coxon
Amsterdam ladies have won what was their 18th Gold medal in winning this year’s final in the Eurohockey Cup Winners Cup held at Bowdon Hockey Club, Manchester over the weekend. They cruised through to victory having scored 26 goals and conceding none throughout the tournament.
The final was a tougher game than anticipated with some evidence of fatigue on both sides where the Dutch, in earlier games, had shown outstanding class. The Spanish team, Club de Campo ( Madrid) held their own in the first half despite a bombardment of attacking shots on goal largely thanks to their goalkeeper , Marie Jesus Rosa who made four outstanding saves from a series of well worked penalty corners. It was down to the Hoofdklasse leading goal scorer, Fieke Holman to break the deadlock early in the second half. The Dutch masters had the run of the play throughout and weathered what was a late rally by the Spanish team. That was ended, late in the game when Kitty Van Male broke away, turned in a perfect cross that was smashed home by Ellen Hoog. ( The Manchester United record breaking football goal keeper, Edwin Van de Sar was in attendance supporting the Dutch champions and clearly had friends on the Dutch team.)
The host club Bowdon Hightown were unlucky to be put in the same pool as the Dutch and a final between the two most successful European clubs , therefore, was not on the cards . Hightown had an unbeaten run during the Slazenger Premier League and were runaway national champions with four games to play. Local expectations were high with the showdown with Amsterdam on Sunday on a hot and sunny afternoon at South Down Road but the local team did not seem to have the flare and pace they showed in earlier matches and conceded two goals in each half. Monday saw the hosts in the playoffs for bronze against the German Champions Rott Weis, Cologne in what was a thrilling match ending in a 3-3 draw. Surprisingly, the Germans pulled ahead but Bowdon pulled one back each time and finished with a thrilling late goal . Sadly their party was ended, decided in a cruel penalty shoot out, with the German’s victorious, 4-2. Tina Cullen and Michelle Liptrot scored but Nicky O’Donnell’s shot was saved and Clare Parkhill’s flick went agonisingly wide.
Joint 7th in the final rankings , Ata Borispol (UKR) HF Lorenzoni (ITA) are relegated to Trophy for 2010 with the Belgian Royal Uccle STHC hanging in for next year’s competition thanks to a final 3-1 win over the Italians. Bonagrass Grove had a comfortable victory against the hapless young eleven-man Ukrainian Club (who had leaked 44 goals during the competition and scored none) with the biggest score of the tournament a 15-0 win. The Ukraine side were unfairly disadvantaged partly due to refused funding from their City but also because the majority of their best players were denied visas. They were going to abandon the competition but were warned by the EHF that they’d face five year ban if they didn’t show up. They had to travel over land and lacked basic kit. It was a scrambled team who had never played together before which included those who had only played indoors. With just eleven in the squad and some as young as sixteen, they had to be nervous about go in hard fro fear of injury with no subs.
Congratulations are in order to Bowdon Cricket, Hockey and Squash Club for a thoroughly well organised event with legions of volunteers largely drawn from club members , young and old helping to ensure a superb atmosphere. The closing ceremony saw each team announced and marching joyfully onto the pitch fronted by two Bowdon Ball Patrol members carrying the national flags. They formed into one huge friendly semi circle for the presentations. The victorious Dutch Captain , Miek Van Geenhuizen, asked for the microphone at the close of proceedings and gave a gracious impromptu speech to the teams , the spectators and the organisers.