Parnham’s double blast fired super Shrews to title success

Shrewsbury Hockey Club’s over-50s banished the painful memories of six years ago to claim the England Hockey Over-50s Championship title.

Champions: Shrewsbury line up following their England Hockey Over-50s Championship title success      Picture: Paul Quinn
Champions: Shrewsbury line up following their England Hockey Over-50s Championship title success Picture: Paul Quinn

Two goals from Stephen Parnham earned Shrewsbury a 2-1 victory against Old Cranleighans in the showpiece final held at Nottingham’s Hockey Centre.

The East Midlands venue was the one where Shrewsbury suffered final heartache at in 2014, coming out on the wrong side against a strong Tunbridge Wells outfit.

But Shrewsbury’s over-50s, featuring nine players who turned out in that final six years ago – skipper Gary Davies, Lyndon Boyden, Richard Coggins, Kevin Coleman, Keith Kendall, Andy Howitt, Graham Moore, Ian Styles and Steve Thomson – put that record straight with a narrow victory over their London foes.

Most of the Shrewsbury team have played hockey together for the club for the best part of four decades and proud captain Davies struggled to hide his delight.

He said: “This was a complete team performance. There were outstanding performances all over the pitch and all were necessary to overcome a strong opposition.

“It was backs to the wall for the first 25 minutes, but the defence was resolute.

“Shrewsbury grew into the game and by the second half were the dominant team, fully deserving victory.

“The team spirit has been excellent throughout this campaign and it is hugely satisfying to be victorious at a national level.”

The ‘Covid-19 secure venue’ made for a different setting for the sides and it was the Londoners who looked to have adjusted the better as they domination the early possession but Shrewsbury held firm and looked to spring counter-attacks.

Shrewsbury conceded early short corners, but it was they who went closest to breaking the deadlock, with a shot that flicked the outside of a post and another that flew narrowly over the backboard.

Jonny Davis and Robin Jackson orchestrated Shrewsbury’s play in midfield and helped them get a foothold in the contest.

The sides went into half-time break goalless, with Boyden, Paul Glendenning, Ian Mould and Moore providing a solid base from defence.

Moore created a chance for Boyden at the far post, which was brilliantly turned in by Parnham to give Shrews the lead.

Another neat move led to Coggins finding Parnham in the Cranleighan’s D and the Shrewsbury sharp-shooter sent a fine first-time finish into the net.

Shrewsbury were almost awarded a penalty stroke, but a shot cleared off the line by an opposition foot was judged to have been heading narrowly wide.

Last-ditch defending and some fine saves by goalkeeper Ian Styles thwarted some late pressure as Old Cranleighan came on strong.

They forced a goal back by converting a short corner with just five minutes remaining, but Shrewsbury defended the closing stages expertly, ensuring Styles’ goal remained untroubled and it was their name etched on the trophy.

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