Rugby Union: Sixsmith relishes Spanish stroll: Bill Colwill reports from Birmingham on England's great win over the Olympic women's hockey champions

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The Independent Online
JANE SIXSMITH, one of Britain's Olympic bronze-medal heroines, confirmed her scoring prowess with her 51st international goal in England's 1-0 win against the Olympic champions, Spain, at the Alexander Stadium here on Saturday, to take the Typhoo Tea Cup.

For Rachael Heyhoe Flint, the former England goalkeeper and cricket international, who had headed the organisation team, it was the end of a 14-month slog which may signal the beginning of a new era for the English game.

The event had been moved following dwindling attendances and lack of an artificial surface at Wembley where the annual international showpiece had been for 40 years. The problem of staging such a prestigious event without a suitable stadium were enormous. Not only was there the logistical problem of building a temporary stadium, which would have taxed Anneka Rice, there was also the task of persuading the hockey fraternity to break with the Wembley tradition and make the trip to Birmingham.

With a lot of dedicated work, able assistance from the Birmingham Council and an element of good luck - who would have expected Spain to have been Olympic champions when they were invited to be the guests? - the event, in spite of the continuous downpour all day, was a great sucess.

After the game England's president, Mon Pickersgill, praised the efforts of both teams in the appalling conditions but had doubts about the long-term value of such an event to English hockey. She said: 'I would like to think that there is a place for one-off games, which there ought to be, but I am not convinced. We may have to think in terms of a tournament over, perhaps, the weekend.'

The winning goal came in the 35th minute, Sixsmith ending a good move between Tina Cullen and the player of the match, Mandy Nicholls, with clinical precision as she was being bundled off the ball by the Spanish sweeper, Maria Carmen Barea.

ENGLAND: J Thompson (Ipswich); V Dixon (Ipswich), K Johnson (Leicester), L Bayliss (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), S Lister (Ipswich, capt), C Cook (Hightown), J Sixsmith (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), F Lee (Hightown), M Nicholls (Ealing), T Miller (Clifton), T Cullen (Hightown). Substitutes used: L Youngs (Ipswich), M Davies (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), A Claxton (Leicester).

SPAIN: M Martinez de Murgia; M C Barea, S Manrique, M Telleria, S Barrio, V Ramirez, N Olive, A Maiques, N Dorado (capt), N Gabellanes, L Lopez. Substitutes used: M A Rodriguez, G Larrinaio.

Umpires: S Morrow (Wal) and M van Gemert (Neth).

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