Seaford College’s joy at top-three hockey honour

The Seaford College hockey squad
The Seaford College hockey squad

Seaford College have been ranked third in the country for boys’ indoor hockey - just weeks after breaking into the top ten.

The success story for the team from the campus near Petworth began when the first indoor team travelled to Trinity School in Croydon for the southern regional indoor championships .

In the pool games, Seaford beat Kingston Grammar 2-1 and Ardingly 8-2. The big game against Sir William Borlase resulted in a 2-1 loss after Seaford had a stroke on the final whistle saved.

Seaford went on to beat Trinity 2-1 in a very tense match and with the final pool game meaning winner-takes-all between Seaford and Eltham College, it was all to play for.

Seaford went 1-0 down only to quickly equalise then go 2-1 up. Eltham pulled level with 45 seconds to go.

Seaford player of the tournament Laurie Bowden surged down the right and drew ferocious tackles, eventually being fouled - resulting in a short corner. Up stepped Johann Von Stechow and he scored brilliantly to win the match for Seaford.

Goal keeper Dan Jones pulled his hip flex and his groin muscle but after time out he played on.

The team went to Whitgift to play the semi-final against Simon Langton. With tired legs, Seaford drew 4-4 and Bowden won it with his final penalty stroke in the shootout.

Seaford had made history and qualified for the national championship for the top eight teams in the country. With an exhausted team and players going down with cramp, Seaford lost the final 4-1 to Whitgift - but what an amazing effort.

For the nationals, Seaford boys’ indoor team arrived in London and were placed in a pool with Rossall, Exeter, Ipswich and Repton.

First was a 6-3 win versus Exeter and later that evening in the second game they played super hockey to beat last year’s finalists Ipswich 5-1.

The next day, with a large number of supporters present, the team had a tough match against Repton and lost 3-2.

Seaford had to beat Rossall in their final pool game which they did - 6-2 - to qualify top of their pool and set up a semi-final against Millfield.

With the team 5-1 down with nine minutes to go, Seaford came alive and scored three goals to get within striking distance - but a lapse in concentration let Millfield score another.

Seaford dug deep and scored another to make it 6-5 and with 13 seconds on the clock, Bowden’s shot struck the crossbar and cannoned down on to the line.

Only a touch was needed - but a Millfield player reacted first and cleared for Millfield to win it.

Seaford’s Johann Von Stechow said: “I am gutted and exhausted but I have never had such an enjoyable tournament in my life and am very proud to be a Seaford player.”

Vice-captain Laurie Bowden said “What a game - it was a pity we lost but we gave it our all!”

Captain Hendrik Geyer said: “What a team - I could not have asked for more effort from my players.”

Alec Haythornthwaite added: “Without the professional structure we had in place (with a physio, manager and coach) I don’t think we would have got this far!”

Ferdinand Haug said: “I really enjoyed playing such a big tournament. I was really sad losing, we were so unlucky in the semi-final but I have always dreamed of what we have done.”

Steve Paxton, the team’s coach, said: ”This is very special team - I am very proud of them and I could not have asked for any more from the players and the management team around me - manager Dom Barnes and physio Jodie Rogers.

“Their commitment and effort and just being modest and friendly athletes should make the school, their parents, their teachers and their fellow athletes very proud.

“I would also like to thank the headmaster and other staff for their support.”