Hockey: East Grinstead ladies going for the title
THE manager of East Grinstead Hockey Club's ladies first XI says it would be a disappointment if they did not win the league this year.
The team has enjoyed unprecedented levels of success in recent seasons, having enjoyed three successive promotions to reach South Division One.
But Georgie Howell said a fourth successive promotion is the aim for her team, adding that it would be a disappointment if the team does not reach the national leagues this season.
"We will win the league," she declared confidently. "That is the ambition for us to reach the national leagues at the first attempt and we will be disappointed if we don't achieve it."
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The ladies kick off their new campaign with a home match against Epsom Ladies on Saturday and Howell said they embark on the new season after a good pre-season.
"We have a squad of 20 going into it this season and everyone has made the step up during pre-season," she said.
"We have worked hard and are unbeaten in the two tournaments we have played, so we are confident for Saturday."
The nucleus of the promotion-winning squad has remained, with Kate Cowlard taking over the captaincy, assisted by Tabitha Worsley.
And Howell says there have been one or two additions to supplement and improve the squad along the way.
The new arrivals include former England U21 player Heather Batten from Sevenoaks, Alicia Caillard from Eastbourne, Stephanie Baggett from Guildford and the twin sisters, Charlotte and Jessica Cremin, who are returning to the club from university.
And Howell said that together with the likes of Jo Jo Davis, Pippa Rabey and the youngsters in the squad, the ladies were looking strong.
She added: "It is very exciting for us and we are very hopeful of starting with a win.
"We are expecting lots of goals from our younger players and we can't wait to get started."
The first match of the new season starts at 10.30am on Saturday. Meanwhile, some of the club's youngsters have already tasted success this summer, with five of the U18 girls making it through to Tier 1 at the Junior Regional Performance Centre.
Amy Jones, Meg Jones, Alicia Caillard, Tabitha Worsley, Charlotte Pool and Courtney Hansford have all progressed to that level.