Oxford University Hockey Club
The Women's Blues will be looking to maintain the sort of form that culminated in a Georgie Whitaker inspired Varsity Match victory in 2017 and has left them unbeaten by a university side since October 2016. After a brutal loss on shuttles in 2015 and a 2-1 loss in 2016, Oxford's Men's Blues finally won the Varsity Match in 2017 with goal keeper George Oyebode putting in an imperious performance to win the second round of shuttles. 2018, while tense, resulted in a repeat of those results, but without the need for shuffles. Can Oxford triple the double?
After a packed pre-season, during which several new players put in a big effort to claim a spot in the Blues, the team has gelled and produced some very strong performances. Following promotion last year, a place in the BUCS Premier Division was secured for next year with two matches to spare; highlights of the campaign included beating Oxford Brookes in the home derby and a critical away result at Cardiff, coming from behind to win in the dying minutes. After a tricky first half of term in South Prem 1 the team rallied, winning three of the last five Saturday games to finish the term in 7th - just four points off the critical fourth promotion spot. With BUCS out the way, the focus is now on pushing up the table in the Saturday league.
The women’s blues have had a really promising first half of the season. After losing some big OUHC names we entered preseason needing to rebuild the team. We have welcomed the return of some previous Blues and a strong fresher intake has given the team a strong foundation. We have also welcomed the return of the dynamic duo John and Johann who have worked tirelessly to get the team off the ground and into winning ways.
The large change in the team was evident in the initial games and saw us coming out the wrong side of some close games with Exeter and Bath in the early stages of the BUCs league. However, the wins duly came as the team began to gel. The highlights feature a gritty 0-0 draw away against Exeter - where availability issues meant we headed down with only 12 including just 1 of our usual back line - and of course the 2 wins over Cambridge. We’re entering the Christmas break on 14 points and 3rd place guaranteed. There is just one game to go before the cup competition and I am hopeful we can have a strong run.
The reshuffle of the English Hockey League system has meant we are in the unique position where 4 teams in our Saturday league are able to get promoted. The newness of the team was evident once again and saw us go down 4-0 in the initial game with a tough fixture against 2nd place Basingstoke. Since then, the Women’s Blues have been scored in every game and have avoided drawing games we are capable of winning including coming from behind to clinch late victories against Wimbledon (4-3) and Spencer (2-1). This has really benefited us in the league we are sitting in a strong 3rd position and still in touch with the top.
After a full-on term the Christmas break will be used to recover so we can give it all into the second half of the season and Varsity.