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Hockey - 30. May 2007.

European Club Championship 2007

No English team has won this title in its 34 years of existence

Leicester Ladies had to be content with silver medals in the final of the European Clubs' Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan after being narrowly beaten 2-1 by Den Bosch of Holland, champions for the last seven years. Hannah MacLeod scored after excellent build up play but Den Bosch snatched the win late on in the game striking from a penalty corner. Midfield dynamo, Helen Richardson commented: "We made them fight and we're gutted to have lost to them."

( ) Leicester Ladies_original

All of the other teams in Leicester's group won their cross over matches, emphasising the strength of the pool, which Leicester topped with three wins and no goals conceded. Den Bsoch had progressed easily to the final with big wins over their rivals from Ukraine, Scotland and Azerbaijan with barely a whiff of a goal against. Leicester presented much more of a challenge and did the club, the city and England proud.

Leicester, sponsored for the first time in top competition by Pukka Pies, reached the final by producing top performances in the group matches to beat Volga Telecom of Russia, Ritm Grodno of Belarus and Berliner HC of Germany. In each game Leicester's goals all came in the second half. They beat a very physical Volga Telecom by 3-0 with goals from Beckie Herbert, Kate Sharland and Gemma Darrington, Ritm Grodno were beaten by goals from Herbert and Hannah MacLeod and Berliner went down to Herbert and MacLeod, the latter being described by team-mates as the best goal they have ever seen - meeting a cross on the top of the circle with a first time shot into the roof of the net. With temperatures over 30 degrees the games were very demanding and it was to Leicester's great credit that they reached the final without GB Hockey Player of the Year, Crista Cullen, who was at home taking university exams. Leicester captain, Julia Sawkings was voted Defender of the Tournament.

Squad: Julia Sawkings, Jess Hughes, Caroline Jack, Sarah Cockayne, Gemma Darrington, Lex Williamson, Hannah Smith, Helen Richardson, Jennie Bimson, Kerry Williams, Beckie Herbert, Hannah MacLeod, Kate Sharland, Nikki Ward, Ness Hawkins, Anne Panter, Lauren Turner.
Coach: Chris Mayer; Assistant: Carol Johnson; Manager: Sue Holwell and Physio: Parys Edwards.

A look at a few facts puts Leicester's great performance into perspective:
No English team has won this title in its 34 years of existence.
The title has been shared between Dutch and German sides.
Since 2000 Den Bosch have won 7-0, 6-0, 5-0, 7-2 (Olton), 8-2, 8-1 and 4-0 (Canterbury).
In Baku they won 5-0, 6-0 and 5-0 before facing Leicester.
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