Andy we are all delighted to be welcoming you to Southgate Hockey Club in a new role as our new Women’s Head Coach. What led you to apply for the job?
I got the opportunity to work with the squad at the back end of last season. I was incredibly impressed by their attitude to training, willingness to learn, support of one another, and inclusion of junior players. It meant having the opportunity to coach this group was an exciting prospect. I’m also looking forward to develop my coaching and learning from a number of different coaches at the club.
Can you tell us a bit more about your playing career?
I’ve played a bit here and there over the past 35 years.
Southgate is the 7th club I have played at. This is purely because I have moved around the country over the years. I started playing adult hockey at 12 years old in the West Bridgford 7th XI, by the time I was 15 I was playing for the 1st XI in the Midlands Premier League. I moved to South East London for University where I joined Bromley HC (now BromBeck!) and got my first taste of National League Hockey. After six seasons there I moved to Canterbury, so naturally joined the club there. I had 7 great years playing Premier League at Canterbury – during that time I played in 6 indoor finals nights [??] and won it in 2007 beating EG. This meant a foray into the European Indoor Competition; this was a huge learning curve!
We then moved to Marlborough, so played at Reading for a season before becoming player coach at Devizes in the West Premier League. After that we moved to Cambridge where I joined Cambridge City. I played in the 1st XI that won promotion to the National League about 11 years ago. I became chairman of the club for six seasons and in that time played in and coached the men’s 2nd XI in the East Premier League.
Two years ago we moved again, this time down to North London so joined Southgate. From that first season as a twelve year old I haven’t had a break from hockey and can count on one hand the number of games I have had to miss; so I must love it!
You played last year for the M3’s with some success just avoiding promotion, will we be seeing you turning out for Southgate as a player this season?
Yes definitely. I’ll play where and for who I can when it fits in with the women’s 1s fixtures. I’ve told Kwan I can make myself available!
You and Kwan know each other from playing at Canterbury I believe- will you bring that relationship with you in your approach to coaching with and indeed alongside him?
Yes – it is over 20 years we have known each other. We both love the game and are happy talking about it. He is a connoisseur of the game. I hope we can really support one another in creating a positive atmosphere around the club and creating an enjoyable elite culture. I look forward to learning from him again, and sharing ideas.
What are you hoping to achieve at the club over the coming years?
Firstly, I want to create an atmosphere where the players want to be at the club to improve their hockey and share positive experiences and friendships. Have an open culture where the players feel safe to express themselves and be the best they can possibly be.
I also want to make sure the players are valued whichever squad they happen to be in each weekend. We are a club, and must remember that whether playing in the 1s or 5s we should be supporting each other to help get the right result.
If I can help to improve all individual players in the elite group, support their decision making on the pitch and allow them to follow a plan as one, then results will take care of themselves.
You’ve been chairman at Cambridge City and as you say played for many teams for many years- what in your view is it that makes a great hockey club and what attracted you to join Southgate a few years ago?
The people make a great hockey club. I have made mates for life at every hockey club I have played for. I can walk back into a four of those clubs and there will be at least a dozen people I know and can catch up with. All clubs have great people, those clubs that harness and make the most of those skills that the volunteers have, become great clubs. It is not all about what happens on the pitch.
What are the key attributes you look for in an elite hockey player?
To be a good human being
To recognise it is a team game so you need others
To overcome difficulties
To admit you will need help at some stage
To try your best
Finally when not coaching or playing can you tell us a bit more about your life away from hockey?
My passions are education, sport and reading. I have been a primary school teacher for well over 20 years, and currently teach in Finchley. I love watching and playing cricket and golf. And PG Wodehouse always helps to keep me smiling.
Thanks so much Andy, we are all excited to welcome you on board as our new Head Coach.