Capital strugglers clubbing together

Hockey IS littered with cases of clubs in decline being unable to arrest their slide and disappearing into the wilderness. Two such fallen giants who have been in troubled waters of late are Hounslow and Ealing Ladies, who have taken the plunge to merge with the object of creating a London super-club. The aim is to revive the past glories enjoyed by both clubs in domestic and European competitions.

The new Hounslow and Ealing Club will boast a total of 12 league teams plus various junior, mixed and veteran sides. It will be based at Hounslow's current home on the banks of the Thames at Chiswick, with its excellent facilities, a water-based artificial pitch and plenty of scope for expansion.

The Men's County Championship gets under way tomorrow in its two divisions, eight locations format. The defending champions Sussex go to Brooklands for their Pool games and the afternoon game against Cheshire is likely to decide not only the Pool winners but also the finalist. Sussex lost out to Cheshire two years ago in the semi-final 1-5 and last year won 5-0 at the same stage.

Sussex travel north minus the internationals Stuart Head, Ben Barnes and Alister Boyce from last year's squad and introduce the 16-year-old schoolboy sweeper Steve Edmonds, from Brighton. A confident manager, Bob Garton, said last night: "We went into our centenary year winning the Cup and we intend to go out of it with our hands still on it."

The RAF Careers Youth Cup finals takes place at the National Stadium in Milton Keynes tomorrow. David Bunyan, the Wales and Canterbury coach, is in charge of the Kent College side who play St George's in the Under-14s match and will be at the Stadium for the third successive week. He will be hoping it is third time lucky, having first failed with Canterbury in the Premiership play-offs and then again last weekend in the EHA Cup semi-finals.

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