East Grinstead threaten Old Boys' reign

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The Independent Online
Crystal Palace is again likely to be a sell-out for hockey's night of the year this evening for the finals of the National Indoor Club Championship when the champions, Old Loughtonians, go for their third successive title, writes Bill Colwill.

Their chances of success have not been helped by a recent spate of injuries. Definitely ruled out is the Great Britain striker Nicky Thompson. Jason Lee, another Olympian, is extremely doubtful and the Scottish international David Ralph also missed their league match last weekend.

Drawn in the same pool as the seven-times winners, St Albans, and Doncaster, the going will be tough. St Albans' Andy Halliday and Ian Jennings, the Guildford player-coach who guests for them, have been two of the greatest exponents of the indoor game in the past decade.

Few clubs are taking the indoor game seriously but one exception is East Grinstead, who line up in the second pool with the outdoor champions and current National League leaders, Cannock and Harborne.

Grinstead are the only English club with their own hall to practise in. They are coached by Richard Leman, the Seoul gold medallist who made over 50 indoor appearances for England in the '80s. Without outstanding players, they have a well balanced squad led by Ben Barnes, the son of their outdoor coach.

Cannock will be placing their faith in Bobby Crutchley who, motivated by his re-selection for the England squad, could well spring a surprise. However, a repeat of the 1993 final between Old Loughtonians and East Grinstead looks likely.