Both English teams managed to get on the podium at the latest edition of the Commonwealth Games, with the men taking the bronze and the women taking the silver.
England’s men beat New Zealand to claim Commonwealth Games hockey bronze in a match played in monsoon conditions at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre. England’s women’s team came within seconds of winning a Commonwealth Gold medal in a dramatic Final at the Commonwealth Games. Lily Owsley scored a superb goal for England, who defended brilliantly throughout the match, but Jodie Kenny scored for Australia in the last seconds to take the game to a shoot-out. Australia won the shoot-out 3-1 with their Captain Madonna Blyth scoring their winning goal, England having to settle for a silver medal.
The men’s bronze medal ends a run of fourth-placed finishes at the last Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games and the recent World Cup.
England Men’s Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said after the game: “Finishing fourth is a horrible thing and I couldn’t be happier for the players that they’ve got something to show for all the hard work. It was a great advert for hockey and our guys have run their legs off for that result.
“The team has improved so much in the last couple of years and now we’ve got something tangible to show for it and that’s really exciting for the future.”
England Captain Barry Middleton added: “I’m not going to wipe the smile off my face for a little while. We wanted to be in the final but it doesn’t take anything away from leaving here with a Commonwealth medal. After the semi-final we said no-one in the room had a Commonwealth bronze medal so we shouldn’t demean the bronze medal game. I was actually wrong because Bobby has got one and now we’ve got one to match.It’s a big moment for me and the guys who are just starting. This sets you off on a path where you want to win more and go further. We’ve won a bronze now and we want to take a step forward. This will keep me playing for a long time because I believe in this group and I think we can go and win things.”
The English women led the game 1-0, thanks to Lily Owsley’s second-half strike, England were only 11 seconds away from what would have been a brilliant and remarkable victory. But Jodie Kenny broke English hearts with virtually the last play of the game, firing in from a penalty corner after Anna Flanagan’s initial strike was saved by Maddie Hinch. That last-gasp equaliser meant the Gold medal would be decided by shootout and despite Georgie Twigg levelling things up after one each, it was Australia who held their nerve in the end to defend their Commonwealth crown with a 3-1 shootout victory.
Kate Richardson-Walsh, England’s Captain, said: “It’s so devastating to take it so close to the wire and then with 11 seconds to go that goal went in, it is just heartbreaking. We’d stuck to our task for the whole game, I’m so proud of the girls though after losing to them [Australia] 3-0 in the group stage but when it is that close, you want to be on the winning team.”
On winning a silver medal she added: “If you had told me at the last game of the World Cup, when we were in a play-off for 11th spot, that we would be in the final of the Commonwealths I would have ripped your arm off. It just shows where this team can go in the future.”
On her own future and possible retirement she commented: “Sport is cruel and that’s why we love it, that knife edge is what we play for, that passion and drive to win and that’s why it is going to be so hard for me to give it up. I am going to take some time to think about it because it is just so special. This is not real life, you are in a bubble in the Commonwealth Games, I need to take everything into consideration before I make the decision.”
Danny Kerry, Performance Director for England Hockey, said: “Given the age of some of the kids running around in this team, they have got an enormous amount of positives to take from that. We have just matched the team that have wiped everyone else off the park so I am chuffed to bits. At the moment they [the players] are absolutely devastated however I think that when they wake up tomorrow, look at their silver medals from the Commonwealth Games and think that they have just drawn with Australia and have only lost one game in the last ten, they will be pretty pleased.”
Source: England Hockey
Photographs courtesy of Ady Kerry