SOUTHGATE PEOPLE – John Sterlini- Captain of SHC M1’s

Southgate v Teddington – Men’s Hockey League division 1 South at Trent Park, London, , England on 22 February 2020. Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

John you’ve taken over the Captaincy of the M1’s for what must have been an interesting and frustrating season. How have you found it?

I’m sure everyone has found this stop/start season frustrating, and is looking forward to playing again soon.  

Performances and results for the M1s have been mixed, but we currently sit in the top half of the table, a few points off top. This isn’t too bad considering the high turnover of players at the end of last season, but we are an ambitious group who want to be challenging for promotion. On a more positive note, Mike Williamson has joined us as coach and we’ve welcomed Ian Gordon and Tom Barratt as players. A number of guys have also stepped up from the M2’s and performed really well. 

As far as the captaincy goes, I think I have it pretty easy. We are very fortunate to have Simon Parker as manager, who does an excellent job organising things behind the scenes. On the hockey side, selection and tactical decisions are made by Mike, and there are plenty of leaders within the team too. 

How long have you been a member of Southgate – can you tell us a bit more about your journey through the club?

I originally joined Southgate as a junior (perhaps aged 11 or 12), and gradually worked my way up from the M5’s to the M1’s. Other than a few seasons away studying (Exeter and Bath) and playing abroad (Australia and South Africa), I have always played for Southgate. 

What are the best things for you about Southgate Hockey Club?

Having been at Southgate for a while now, I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of fantastic people. On top of that, the facilities at Southgate are by far the best in the country. Winning a Saturday home game in front of a full balcony, and sharing a few beers in the clubhouse afterwards, is the best thing about Southgate for me.

When not playing and training for Southgate what do you do in your non hockey life?

I enjoy dabbling in other sports and travelling (I had hoped to visit 30 countries before 30, but this may now have to be 40 before 40). I work for Ocado Technology which has kept me busy this year, and I have been learning to code during lockdown. Otherwise I have filled a lot of my time with books and films.

What are your ambitions both short and longer term as a player and as captain of the M1’s?

Short term we need to find a bit more consistency in our performances. While we are capable of beating anyone in the league, we have too many off days where we drop points. 

My long term ambition for the M1’s would be promotion and stability in the premier league. It’s a big step up in quality, and when we have played in the premier league before, we have struggled to stay there.  

How have you found the last few weeks/months in our third national lockdown- how have you been keeping fit and busy?

While it has been difficult, it feels like there is a lot more room for optimism with vaccines now being rolled out. I try to do some form of exercise every day, but to freshen it up, I would recommend one of Iain Gordon’s online classes. 

Finally there is a picture of you meeting the Queen in the dressing room corridor- can you tell us how that came about?

When I was at primary school there was an annual hockey tournament called the London Heathrow Youth Games, where each London borough could enter a team. I played for the Enfield borough, and we were runners up. As it was the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, she awarded us medals. Martin Foxall was our coach (now the current L1’s coach), and he was a big influence on me joining Southgate.