Surbiton keep champagne bottles corked as they eye clean sweep

Surbiton keep champagne bottles corked as they eye clean sweep

History makers: Surbiton Ladies celebrate winning the Women's Hockey League Conference East crown before securing promotion via the play-offs

Snubbed: Vicky Bryant surprisingly missed out on the player of the play-offs award

Vital strike: Chloe Strong's late strike on Saturday proved crucial to Surbiton Ladies realising their promotion dream

First published in Sport Your Local Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

Surbiton Ladies captain Vicky Heptonstall has told her players to keep the champagne on ice until they complete a league and cup double.

The Sugden Road outfit added promotion to the Women's Hockey League Premier Division to the Conference East title they claimed last month, with a 5-2 play-off win over Beeston on Sunday.

It is the first time in the club's history that its men's and women's first teams have both been in English hockey's top flight.

Surbiton Ladies, established in 1990, face the Unversity of Birmingham in the Women's Cup final on May 13 hoping to go one better than last season's 4-1 final defeat at the hands of Bowdon Hightown.

And Heptonstall, whose side has gone from the Surrey Leagues to the top division in the space of just eight seasons, has urged her team to concentrate on the job in hand.

"When we lost the cup final last year we sat down and set ourselves our objectives for this year," she said.

"We said we wanted to get promoted in the indoor leagues, win the outdoor league, win promotion and win the cup. We have one more thing to tick off now.

"We had a few drinks to celebrate, but we have the end of season awards the weekend after the cup final, so hopefully we can celebrate everything properly after that."

Former Great Britain and England international Chloe Strong was the toast of Surbiton Ladies on the second weekend of the promotion play-offs on Saturday as her last-minute penalty corner strike snatched a 3-3 draw with Slough to keep promotion hopes alive.

Twenty-four hours later Strong bagged a brace - to add to two from Vicky Bryant and a lone Abi Robinison effort - as Surbiton secured the win they needed.

"Looking back at the weekend I'm really proud of the girls, because we stuck to our gameplan and dug in when we needed to. I couldn't have asked for anythnig more," said Heptonstall.

"The two Bryant sisters have been great all season. I was surprised Vicky didn't get player of the tournament.

"Chloe is a former Slough player and I think she wanted to prove a point against them. She just showed her international experience.

"Those three have been great, but it has been a squad effort. We are not a team of individual stars, we are a squad.

"We wanted to get the men and women both playing in the top league and we have done that, so it is great for the club."

And one more win would make it a perfect year.

Heptonstall added: "Birmingham is my old club and in truth there are about six girls who have played there, so it is going to be a great game and one everyone will want to win."

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