Hockey: S Africans lift Epsom

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The Independent Online
WHILE THE Wales rugby union side at Wembley will be far from relishing the arrival of the all-conquering South Africans today, the contribution of some of the Springboks' hockey playing countrymen at Epsom has been a welcomed tonic for captain Chris Allcock's team.

Five South Africans are expected to start Epsom's EHA Cup game against Winchester of the Premier League tomorrow and Allcock attests to their impact in both that competition and the Hampshire-Surrey Regional League.

"We have a good team spirit and we are now getting it together," said Allcock, who is back at the Surrey club after stints at Slough and Hounslow. "It has been a gradual process which all started with the arrival of Spingbok Murray Smith."

Smith, currently studying medicine in Dublin, flies in each weekend and has been the catalyst for the arrival of other South Africans, including Charles Teversham from the Atlanta Olympic squad. Unlike the National League, there are no restrictions on the number of non-EU overseas players in the Cup, hence the high numbers of South Africans expected to start against Winchester.

Another recent returnee to Epsom, on maximum points in the league and who today visit Portsmouth, is Jon Clark, the former England indoor goalkeeper. Clark has seen action with Mid-Surrey and Slough and coached the US national squad at the Atlanta Olympics.

Allcock summed up the weekend: "Our priority is obviously the league. Realistically, we are not going to win the EHA Cup but if we could get through this round to round four, which would be the furthest Epsom have ever been, then I would say we would be reasonably content.

"We would like to win the league but we are up against Old Georgians, also on 100 per cent, who, shall we say, seem to have funds available and are said to be offering quite ridiculous amounts for players."