Hockey: Old Boys reach for the top

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Hockey's night of the year, the Indoor Finals at Crystal Palace this evening, sees the country's six leading teams striving for the national title - and with it a place in Europe.

In a revised format for the final stages - the teams will be playing in two pools of three, with the winners of each contesting the final - Old Loughtonians, surprisingly in view of the fact that they have yet to win a national honour, look strong favourites. They are drawn against Hull and a young East Grinstead side being rebuilt by their coach, Richard Leman.

Old Loughtonians will be particularly confident should they meet St Albans, the defending champions, in the final. When the teams met recently in the league, the Old Boys triumphed 13-2, although, to be fair, St Albans were without their inspirational captain, Andy Halliday.

St Albans, along with those staunch indoor specialists from the Midlands, Barford Tigers and Stourport, are in the tougher half of the draw. The first game, Old Loughtonians against Hull, starts at 4pm.