Spalding out to thrill a big crowd by reaching the national final

FLYING HIGH: Spalding Hockey Club men's 1st team. Photo supplied ENGANL00220130611110116
FLYING HIGH: Spalding Hockey Club men's 1st team. Photo supplied ENGANL00220130611110116

Spalding Hockey Club face one of the biggest games in their 60-year history on Sunday when hosting Basingstoke in the semi-finals of the England Hockey National Men’s Vase (2pm).

Victory over the Surrey and Hampshire Division Two leaders would send Spalding to the impressive Highfields Sports Club in Nottingham for a national final against either Bromsgrove or Camberley and Farnborough.

It’s a venue Spalding chairman Fred Morris describes as hockey’s equivalent of Old Trafford and he is confident his side can book a place in the final.

Spalding are unbeaten at Glen Park this season and they are determined to extend that record against Basingstoke.

Stuart Cunnington has played a big part in Spalding’s excellent cup run which has seen them account for Norwich Dragons 4-1, Coalville (Leicester) 6-1, Ramgarhia (Derby) 6-1 and Phoenix and Ranelagh (Reading) 3-2.

Cunnington has smashed in more than half-a-century of goals this season as Spalding have stormed to the East Men’s League Division Two North title.

Cunnington scored a hat-trick within the opening five minutes of Saturday’s 9-1 drubbing of Bury St Edmunds and he later added a fourth to take his season’s tally to 52.

Influential captain Josh Rowbottom had the honour of scoring the team’s 100th goal of the season.

Rowbottom played for City of Peterborough in the National League last season but has returned to his native Spalding this season and has been in inspirational form.

Ash Barker, Russell Watts (2) and an own goal completed the scoring.

Spalding’s record at home this season reads played 14, won 14, scored 75, conceded 10, and such form leaves chairman Fred Morris confident ahead of Sunday’s big game.

He said: “We haven’t lost at home this season and we don’t intend to start now.

“Losing in the semi-final would be the worst time to go out. With us being promoted, we will compete in the National Trophy next season rather than the Vase so we really hope we can win it this season.

“Our form at home this season has been excellent and we expect a big crowd of around 200-250 on Sunday.

“Hopefully we will give them all plenty to cheer about.”