Leigh Sitch says Harleston Magpies have made ‘quite a statement’ after winning the England Hockey Mixed Trophy for a third time.
Previous winners of the national competition, which this year attracted close to 150 entries from across the country, in 2004 and 2015, Magpies completed a hat-trick of triumphs at the weekend.
After a Maria Andrews hat-trick helped Harleston to a 4-1 win over Spencer in the semi-finals on Saturday, the final against Khalsa the next day went all the way to a penalty shootout, after the two teams finished up level at 1-1.
And in sudden death, ex-GB international Tim Whiteman converted his chance for Magpies, before goalkeeper Chris Leek forced the Khalsa forward to fire wide, thus handing the Weybread-based outfit the title for the third time in their history.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved,” said Sitch, the captain of Harleston’s title-winning mixed team. “It’s great for the club and it puts Harleston on the map.
“For such a rural, small club to compete against the big teams is quite a statement.
“When the final went to a penalty shootout we were quietly confident, as we’ve got a great goalkeeper in Chris.
“He saved four of his six penalties and when we won there was just elation through the whole team.”
For the third successive year, the finals of the Mixed Trophy were held at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, situated on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where the 2012 Olympics were staged in London.
Magpies have been involved in all three finals weekends held at the London facility, which will also be hosting one of the Men’s FIH Hockey World League semi-finals between June 15-25, and skipper Sitch says it is an opportunity like no other.
“It is fantastic to play there,” he said. “A lot of young hockey players aspire for the chance to play there, and for us to get that chance is very exciting.
“It’s great for the club as well. We had some good support at the weekend, considering it was in London, and we had a real mix of ages come and watch us.
“For the youngsters that were watching I’m sure it will inspire them to one day play there too.
“It has been a long mixed season for the squad and I would like to thank those players who have played this season.
“I’d like to also thank Parson Estate Agents for their continued support. They are the main sponsors of the mixed team and help us a lot.”