HOCKEY: Reading to miss new indoor campaign

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THIS YEAR'S club indoor season has an additional objective this year. As well as providing teams for the preliminary round of the National Club Championship, as in the past, it will also form the initial selection for teams in the inaugural National Indoor League, to start in 2001.

All National League clubs were invited to show their interest. A notable exception in the South tournament is Reading, who won the National title two years ago. After much discussion, the Berkshire club decided that playing without their five Great Britain players would be too serious a handicap.

Hampstead and Westminster have also opted to concentrate on winning promotion to Division One of the outdoor league. Canterbury, Guildford and Surbiton, all in the top five places of the National League, have entered and will contest places from the South in a four-pool, three-team tournament at Epsom College.

The first two teams go through to this season's National finals and the next four qualify for the lower reaches of the National League. Southgate, the National champions, automatically qualify.

Havant, who parted company with their Australian coach Peter Freer last weekend, are struggling at the bottom of Division Two but could be the surprise South qualifier.

In the East the Crowe Insurance League will be played over the weekend at Aldenham School. Five times champions Old Loughtonians will be defending their title without the services of Ian Jennings, who is playing for Guildford at Epsom, and the Canadian international goalkeeper, Hari Kant, but should still win through to the final where their likely opponents will be St Albans. They expect to have the former England captain Andy Halliday back after a broken thumb.