Hockey: We’re ready to defend our title, says Inverleith’s Neave

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STUART NEAVE believes Inverleith are well prepared for their defence of the Scottish indoor hockey title.

The champions face an opening double-header at Bell’s Sports Centre, Perth, this Saturday against Edinburgh rivals Grange (1pm) and former champions Grove Menzieshill (5pm).

Neave, who guided the club to their first major indoor title, and their first national honour in over 30 years last season, said: “It’s a really tough start.

“We play Grange in our first game and they have a real potential to challenge this season. Then we face Grove in the final game of the day and they are anxious to get back on top after winning the title for seven years before we took over last season.

“There are other unknown quantities in the league this time. Kelburne, for example, lead the outdoor table with maximum points from their ten games and they are packed with international players. Many of them have expressed an interest in going for selection for the international indoor team this season. There are other teams as well. I always say it is difficult to win something and even harder to defend it.”

Olympian Graham Moodie is in the Inverleith squad. He is player/coach outdoors for Edinburgh University and fellow-Olympian Stephen Dick, who plays for English cracks Reading outdoors and is currently sidelined after a training accident with Great Britain, is also in the player pool.

Stephen’s older brother Allan, a Scottish international goalkeeper, will travel north. He plays for English-based Division Two combine Holcombe and also in the squad is experienced Scottish-based goalkeeper, Graham Stuart.

It’s a massive season for Inverleith as they host the European Indoor Championship, B Division, at Edinburgh’s Napier University’s new complex at Sighthill from February 17-19 where they’ll face clubs from Poland, France, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Belgium and Portugal.