Hockey: Beeston lose out to national side

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The Independent Online
YET AGAIN the absence of important players will affect tomorrow's National League programme. This time it is caused by an England Under- 18 training camp at Bisham Abbey. Worst affected will be Beeston, at home to third- placed Southgate, who will be missing Philip Sully, Matt Taylor and Andy West.

Graham Griffiths, Beeston's manager, expressed his amazement that hockey had not got to grips with the problem. "It would never happen in football," he said. "Can you imagine Michael Owen being released by Liverpool to play for England Under-18s? I find the whole thing extremely frustrating.

"Sadly we have faced this problem during the second half of the season for several years. And what's more we are almost certainly going to have to go into Europe at Easter missing the three of them."

The Hockey Association, however, will simply say that there is just not enough time in the season to fit everything in.

Perhaps England should follow the German example and split the National League season into two halves with a long mid-season break, playing on after Easter into the summer months. After all, hockey no longer shares grounds with cricket nor are top players able to play both games.

Andy Billson, the Teddington coach, has left the club and has signed for local Midland club, Northampton Saints, whom he has also been coaching. The Teddington captain, Brett Garrard, has taken over as coach for tomorrow's visit of Cannock.

Hounslow entertain East Grinstead, who beat Brooklands 9-1 last week.

With the arrival from Reading of Mark Hoskins, the Guildford coach, Ian Jennings, believes they can give the leaders, Canterbury, a tough fight and possibly even take the points.