Sevenoaks Hockey Club Men’s 1st XI have been busy adding to their Premier League squad over the summer break, bolstering their numbers with some impressive new additions as they enter their second season in the top flight.
Joining the side will be George Lilley, Ed Matts, Tom Graham, Craig Morton and Gurmukh Bhamra, along with Australian Brandon Gibbs returning for a second season.
First team men’s captain, Tim Warrington talks us through the additions to the squad:
Former Loughborough Student George Lilley (25) joins Sevenoaks from his childhood club Old Loughtonians, having previously had a brief spell at Holcombe upon leaving University. He has represented England at all age group levels (U16, U18 and U21) and will no doubt add some real quality to the Oaks midfield.
George said of his move to Sevenoaks: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the first few weeks of pre-season, getting to know the guys. It is a really ambitious group with lots of potential and I can’t wait to get started”.
Sevenoaks player-coach Duncan Parnis commented: “George is a really great signing for Sevenoaks HC. He comes with some fantastic Premier League & junior international experience. He has fitted into the squad really well and we’re positive that he’ll be a big player for us this season”.
Ed Matts (24) adds to the Exeter University alumni in the Men’s 1st XI, being the 5th member of the current squad to have attended University of Exeter. He grabbed the attention of Sevenoaks when he scored against them in their playoff game against Exeter back in April.
As a former junior England international (U16) with a decent scoring record in the National Conference West, Ed is an exciting attacking talent who will greatly strengthen the Oaks forward line.
Ed remarked: “I’m excited to be joining Sevenoaks to play Premier League hockey and look forward to helping the team improve this season”.
Parnis said: “In typical SHC fashion we have signed another player that knew where the back of the Sevenoaks net was in the past! Ed comes into the squad with great energy and quality having achieved promotion with Exeter Uni. A dynamic forward who is clinical in front of goal – he will be a key striker for us this season”.
Tom Graham (23) arrives at Sevenoaks having grown up playing at Harleston Magpies, before more recently graduating from Durham University. He has also represented Scotland U21’s.
In what appears to be a theme, Tom played against Sevenoaks at the playoffs the year before last, when he scored a superb individual goal, putting him well and truly on the Sevenoaks radar when they heard he was moving South after leaving University.
Tom said of his move to Sevenoaks: “I’m really excited to be joining Sevenoaks. I can’t wait for the season to get started and take on the challenge of Premier League hockey”.
Parnis added: “Tom’s goal for Durham Uni in the Playoffs 2017 was one of the best goals I’ve witnessed! Having Tom at training now shows us that it wasn’t a fluke & now our defenders get to relive that nightmare every week! We’re very excited to have him at Sevenoaks this season”.
Gurmukh Bhamra (24) joins the club from Reading, having previously played against Sevenoaks with both Fareham and Richmond.
He is a skilful midfielder, with junior international honours at England U16 level, who will add depth to the midfield line-up.
Gurmukh said: “I’m really excited to rejuvenate my hockey career at Sevenoaks. Having played against the club over the last couple of seasons, I have witnessed the success of the club, and it is something that I would like to contribute towards in the future.
“The club has been very welcoming in the first few weeks and I already feel that this is right environment for me to develop as a player. I am looking forward to the challenges which the new season holds”.
Player-coach Parnis said: “G has always caused us problems whenever we have played against him in the past, so it’s great to have him at the club playing for us instead! A very skilful & dynamic midfielder; we’re delighted to have him on board”
Craig Morton (25) joins Sevenoaks from Kelburne Hockey Club in Scotland. He is a defender with junior international honours for Scotland (U16, U18 and U21) as well as three years of European Hockey League experience and silver and bronze medals in the Club European Trophy with Kelburne.
He will add to the defensive options available to Sevenoaks and said “having been in a team that has won everything we could in Scotland (13 league titles in a row), the time for a new challenge was needed”.
He added: “I decided to move down to Sevenoaks as I had heard good things about the team and the opportunity to challenge myself against the best players in the country.
“Sevenoaks and I share the same principles of hard work, being competitive and aiming to improve every step. I hope the team can build on last season’s achievements and look upwards in the league.”
Parnis said of Craig: “We are delighted to have Craig at the club this season. He has come down to Sevenoaks with a really positive attitude to replicating his success with Kelburne in Scotland in the English Premier League & we’re sure he’ll help us to keep a few more goals out this season”
Australian Brandon Gibbs (24) re-joins us from Wesley and South Perth Hockey Club (WASPS) and will join up with the squad at the end of October after the completion of the Australian Hockey League (AHL) season.
Brandon will slot back into the defensive unit and said “I cannot wait to get back and re-join the Sevenoaks guys. The addition of new players and the experience from last year’s season has me very excited for what is possible this year”.
Player-coach Parnis commented: “Brandon was absolutely brilliant for us last season & we’re delighted that he wants to play for us again this season. We hope that another successful AHL season will be the perfect platform for him to come back and make a big positive impact for Sevenoaks”.
Away from home
Unfortunately, Sevenoaks are away from home for the opening two weeks of the season at Beeston and Holcombe, so you will have to wait until Sunday 7th October for their first home game against Brooklands to see the new signings in action.
Do put that date in your diary to come along and support Oaks against one of their main rivals this season.
The ladies 1st XI will ‘push back’ their season on Saturday 29th September when they host Horsham at Holly Bush Lane. The time has yet to be confirmed.