HOCKEY Plimmer urges Robbies to enjoy EHL experience

Clifton Robinsons mens player-coach Matt PlimmerThe match-day Saturday all hockey fans of the top flight game have been waiting is upon us.

The 2017-18 England Hockey League starts with 40 top games across eight divisions today.

Bristol boasts the region’s top EHL club as Clifton Robinsons compete in the Women’s Premier Division and now also field a newly promoted team in Men’s Conference West.

Player-coach Matt Plimmer’s Robbies swept to the regional West of England & South Wales Hockey League title by a massive 14 points after a 22-match league term.

Robbies lost just three times, once at home to runners-up Cardiff University and twice to bogey side Plymouth Marjon, who finished fourth and 16 points behind the runaway champions.

Aside from those setbacks Robbies were consistency personified, winning 17 of their remaining 19 games and drawing just twice.

Today the men’s national league newcomers – Bristol’s sole side in the MHL - face a tough opening test against Cheltenham at Cheltenham College (1400).

When interviewed by Clifton’s Scottish international star and hockey blogger Kate Holmes player-coach Plimmer outlined his thoughts on the season ahead:

“Our mission is clearly to progress and be the best. We never talk about league positions or points tallies - we just want to enjoy our hockey, so our objective will always be scoring goals.

“I’ll happily lose an important game 7-6 over a 1-0 win. It’s hard to convince the players, but you’ll succeed more in the long run.

“We would need to score 70-plus goals to win this league.

“With our tactics, pace and strength, plus an arsenal of options at penalty corners, I’m confident that we aren’t too far away but we would be happy with 54 goals this season.

“Regardless, we just want to enjoy it!

“We would love lots of support at home games and the chance for our family, friends, members and local hockey community to enjoy it too.

“There’s lots of confidence across the club at the moment and we’re not far off a seventh men’s team and - for the first time ever – we have Under 16 and Under 18 boys sides in competitive action.

“It would be hard to beat last season but I already have a feeling we will.”

Men’s Conference West champions Team Bath Buccaneers start their title defence against Fareham at University of Bath (1200) while Exeter-based Isca host Olton & West Warwickshire at the University of Exeter (1400).

University of Exeter face an opening day University challenge away to Birmingham (1400).

Clifton Robinsons women’s firsts – coached by Stephen Rixon - start their top flight programme at home to Leicester at Coombe Dingle at 1300.

In the Women’s Conference West, Isca University face a testing opener against ambitious Swansea City Spartans at University of Exeter (1200).

Gloucester City visit divisional newcomers Cannock (1230) while newly promoted Team Bath Buccaneers host Stourport at University of Bath (1400).

The regional West Clubs Women’s Hockey League is already underway.

The men’s West of England & South Wales Hockey League starts on Saturday September 30.

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