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Alexander’s Visit Boosts Magpies

Olympian Richard Alexander returned to his roots when he paid a three evening visit to coach at Harleston Magpies last week. Alexander made his debut in the National League when only fourteen, since then moving to University, establishing himself in Premier League hockey followed by selection for England and Great Britain, and was part of the winning side in Holland which recently won the European Championship.

Magpies men, following a period in regional hockey have regained their place in National League hockey, they started training in mid July and were pleased to share some of Alexander’s experiences in a coaching evening planned to boost the squad before the opening game in the league against Sevenoaks at home on Sunday 2.15. p.m.

Following the session Alexander said ”You have a really good squad here and although the East Conference is probably the strongest of the three regional conferences I have no doubt that you will be successful. You have nothing to fear if you continue to play the sort of hockey I have seen here tonight.”

Robert Stimpson Manager of the current side, and also managing when Alexander made his debut years ago commented” I was so pleased when ‘ Rat’ agreed to run this session. We have benefited from his experiences. He is an ideal role model for all our players ,if we can take his commitment, work rate and will to win into our season we will have nothing to fear.”

It is third time lucky for Magpies, runners up three seasons ago, followed by winning the league but having to go to play offs the next season, cruelly not qualifying on goal difference. Last season winning the league without losing a game has given Magpies the opportunity to establish themselves back in the league. With the re-organisation of the league only four divisions of ten clubs are in National hockey. The top league is truly a Premier league and the three regional conferences contain some famous and strong clubs. In Magpies league Southgate, Canterbury, Old Loughtonians and Bromley and Beckenham will prove strong opposition but Magpies need to work on their home record. The trip to Weybread is daunting for even the best, and Magpies crowds are likely to be the largest and certainly the most vociferous ion the league.

Turning to the squad, twelve of last season’s squad are joined by six new players and one graduating from the under eighteen side. The influx is a good balance of youth and experience who should blend well with the established players.

Robert Stimpson manages with Richard Gill continuing as player coach supported by Bob Skinner, Phil Cobbald and Rob Wagstaffe on the coaching side all three having played for the club in the National League.

Squad : Richard Harms, Tom Sumner, Stuart Leate, Leigh Sitch, Mark Wheelhouse, David Ling, Duncan Scott, Gareth Furlong, Richard Gill, Pete Bale, Matt Stainthorpe, Andy Hipwell, Ben Gowing, Tristan Baynes, Richard Ling, Tom Dunnett, Neil Toulson, Duncan Graves, James Fanger,