Hockey: Moodie not blue over chance of gaining Euro promotion

Inverleith hockey team training before the tournament.
Inverleith hockey team training before the tournament.
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Graham MOODIE has played international hockey all over the world and will be a key man for Inverleith as they host the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy at Napier University starting tomorrow, but the Olympian admitted today: “I’m nervous about this weekend.”

The Edinburgh club are the No. 1 seeds as six teams jet in from across Europe for the competition. Inverleith are bidding to secure promotion to Europe’s A Division through the round-robin event but face stiff opposition from French side Lille MHC, HC Kolos-Sekvoya Vinnitsa from the Ukraine, Czech Republic outfit HC 1972 Rakovnik, Slagelse HC from Denmark, Racing Club de Bruxelles of Belgium and Portuguese side AD Lousada.

Moodie said: “This will be a really tough tournament but, if we get off to a good start, then we’ve got as good a chance as any to win promotion. We’ve got a lot of experience in the team. We’ve also got some really talented young players and the key to success is to cut out silly mistakes.

“Teams will pounce on mistakes but if we protect the ball then we can do well.”

Moodie, who played for Great Britain in the Athens Olympics, will have Beijing Olympian Stephen Dick alongside him in the squad.

Commonwealth Games players Derek Salmond and Adam Mackenzie are also listed along with Andrew Sinclair, who played for Barcelona HC, and seasoned international goalkeeper Allan Dick.

Moodie said: “The last time I played in a major international tournament in Edinburgh was the World Cup qualifiers in 2001.

“We have the advantages of having played at Napier, we’re in familiar surroundings, we’ll hopefully have good support from home fans, we don’t have to travel and we’ll have no problems with the diet.

“However, there are a number of top players coming with the six other teams and some of our young guys won’t have been involved in anything like this before. They will be nervous but we have to turn that into something positive.”

Inverleith coach Stuart Neave, meanwhile, believes it’s imperative the home side get off to a good start when the B Division action begins tomorrow.

Neave said: “Our guys are going in against top-level opposition. They will be technically skilled players and they will be physical. Stephen Dick, Graham Moodie, Adam Mackenzie and Derek Salmond have played international hockey at the highest level and will have experienced it before. Our job is to get our young guys ready.”

He added: “Our job is to focus on our game. We have an advantage in that we’ve played in the hall during the Richard Docherty Cup in early January.

“The arena is several metres smaller than the other clubs will be used to and we have to capitalise on that.

“We know we’ll have to be at our best, but we showed during the Richard Docherty event that we can play. The German side Grossflottbeker were strong physically and we pushed them all the way and we’ll need that form if we’re to make an impact here.

“We’ll have to play high- intensity hockey and I’m very positive about the tournament.

“We’ll be missing Christopher Grassick, who is a quality player, but we have a strong squad who are determined to succeed here.

“The guys may have lost the domestic title to Grove Menzieshill recently but we beat the new champions 6-4 in the final game and the scoreline could have been greater as we hit the bar, hit the post and missed a penalty stroke.

“The whole spirit and effort put in by the guys on the day was great and if we can repeat that commitment then we can do well.”

• The EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Trophy will be played at Napier University’s Sighthill Campus from February 17-19. Tickets are available on the day at venue or via Prices are £5 for a day ticket and £12 for a three-day ticket. Under-16s can enter free with a ticketholder while senior citizens can enjoy free entry.