Eastbourne Hockey Club hope to build on the learning curve of last season when they return to competitive action this weekend.
The club welcome Kent/Sussex Division Two side Crawley to the Saffrons this weekend in the first round of the Sussex 1s Cup before commencing their South League Premier Division One campaign against Milton Keynes a fortnight later.
Eastbourne finished second from bottom of the league last year but managed to survive by the skin of their teeth as the relegation play-off in the national league above them went in their favour.
However, for all their bad memories of last season – a year that saw them pick up just five wins out of 22 – manager David Adelston believes they are now in a far better position to attack the league, especially thanks to the addition of a new coach at the club.
He said, “It’s going to be a tough year, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ve been training for the past couple of weeks and we’re very much looking forward to getting started.
“We’ve brought in a new coach in Chris Bristow. He used to be a goalkeeper for Surbiton and he’s a great addition to have.
“The fact we played in that higher tier for the first time last season and survived, just about, shows that we can do it and that helps the belief among the lads.
“Our discipline improved enormously last season and we learnt a lot of lessons that we hope to use this time round to have a successful year. We’re a lot more prepared now.”
One thing Adelston highlighted at the end of last season was the lack of competition for places, something that he had hoped to rectify over the summer.
He said, “I think it’s the case in any sport that you need competition for places as then you can put the best team out on the pitch.
“We have gained some new faces this year and we hope to get a few more when the university students arrive.
“Hockey is a very young man’s game and while we may lack some older faces here, having a young squad means the fitness and team spirit comes together a whole lot quicker.
“At the moment, the bonds between the team just keep getting better and better.
“We spent a lot of pre-season trying to get people interested in playing hockey again, which the Olympics helped with, and getting them ready and looking forward to play.”
Eastbourne start the weekend with a friendly clash against Ashford at 11am on Saturday to warm up for their cup match against Crawley, which starts later on at 3pm.
Squad: Andy Edwards, Chris Borsoi, Danny Williams, Garratt Weblin, Henry Adelston, Jeremy Sumner, Jonny Robinson, Matt Minister, Matthew Robinson, Ollie Taplin, Robert Ward, Stephen Perry