Hockey: Olympic Park awaits dreamy eyed Harrogate Ladies
Harrogate Hockey Club's Ladies will follow in the footsteps of the greats after they booked their place in the final of the Investec Trophy at the Olympic Park.
A 2-0 win over Lewes, in front of a bumper semi-final crowd at Granby Hockey Centre, sets up a showdown with Alderley Edge at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre on April 30.
Captain Lucy Wood watched on in 2012 and she is overcome by the chance to play on the very same pitch on which Team GB bagged bronze.
“I can’t really put into words how big it will be to play there,” she enthused.
“I went to watch the hockey in the Olympics and it was an unbelievable spectacle.
“To play on such a fantastic quality pitch will be amazing, although it will be very scary as well!”
Wood sensed her side’s nerves going into Sunday’s game against the visitors from the South Coast, heightened by the unexpected size of the crowd.
“There was a massive crowd, no-one was expecting the numbers of people that turned up.
“We were nervous in the warm-up, we could see that, and that carried through to the first half but we stuck at it,
“We got our first goal from a short corner after half-time and the momentum from that carried us through to the win.”
It’s not all been plain sailing for the team this season.
Their coach Gonzalo Ayala had to return to Argentina halfway through the campaign leaving Jarek Kulpa in sole charge and, despite the original goal being to gain promotion, Harrogate sit seventh in North Division One.
Skipper Wood, who replaced Cecilia Allen as captain for this season, believes that a lack of consistency in selection has held back a promotion bid.
“We’ve had a few odd weeks where we’ve struggled with players being away and we’ve lost points when we should have taken them,” she added.
“We’ve had a bit of trouble with coaches, but our manager John Till has been a backbone for us.”
Wood installed her charges as favourites for the game against Alderley Edge, who edged past Bishop Stortford on penalty flicks in their semi-final,
“They’re in the league below us and are in the playoffs to come up into our league,” Wood said.
“In theory, we should be favourites and it will be a big game for them to show they can compete at a higher level.”
For Wood, next month’s showpiece event is a perfect chance to give the club that she has played for since the age of 7 a memorable day.
“My mum played for the club and she brought me up playing hockey.
“I’ve been there from the beginning and it will be great to give something back to the club.”