JERSEY have established themselves as ‘a team to fear’ in the latter rounds of England Hockey’s Men’s Tier-2 Championships, after toppling one of the country’s most renowned clubs on home turf.
That is the view of Island captain Tom Millar as he prepares to gear his side up for what could be a history-making semi-final appearance in one of the most prestigious competitions for grassroots associations.
Jersey’s progress to that stage, for only the second time, was earned courtesy of a stunning comeback-victory over tournament favourites Surbiton 2nds at Les Quennevais – a match hailed as one of the greatest in living memory by those on the field and supporters off it, too.
‘That’s the most I’ve enjoyed a Jersey game,’ said Millar.
‘We’ve never beaten a team with the stature of Surbiton. The skill and quality of some of their boys… they’re either knocking on the door of the first team or they’re on the way back down, with national league experience. A lot of our guys have had no exposure to that but the two or three young lads we have in the squad stood up to the challenge.
‘The way we went about it, with a gritty performance, really pleased me. The red card [for Surbiton player-coach Liam Doidge] changed things but we defended really well and Piers [Brandie] has been a standout goalkeeper all season.’
Jersey lost 10-3 when they last reached the last-four, in 2019 – against a side, in Repton, who would lose to Surbiton 2nds in the final of that year.
‘I’ve been playing since 2007 and I’ve only ever reached the semi-finals on that one occasion,’ Millar added.
‘If you go to a semi-final the target has to be the final. We’re only one match away from Lee Valley and two matches from winning the whole thing. That is absolutely our target and other teams might look at this result and think that Jersey is a team to fear.
‘We’ve lost once before in the semi-final and the challenge will be to make sure we don’t come off the pitch with the same result this year.’
Match report in Monday’s JEP.