Big gun Glenn Turner to show class at Euro series in Banbridge
Don't be surprised if you see one of world hockey’s most iconic players — Australia’s Glenn Turner — walking around the streets of Banbridge this week.
Turner is one of over 20 Olympians who are in the Co. Down town as part of the EuroHockey League first round series being staged on these shores for the first time and sees 12 of Europe’s leading clubs in action over three days.
Turner lines out with Belgian giants Royal Leopold, who are in Banbridge’s pool as they bid to reach the knockout stage, and captain Matthew Bell knows he is one that the hosts will have to watch closely.
The striker has already won over 150 caps and scored over 100 goals for his country, and tucked away in his cabinet are gold medals at World Cup, World League, Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games, as well as an Olympic bronze.
“Both teams in our pool have stand-out players who can influence the game, so we just need to minimise the chances that they have to impact it,” said Bell.
“We expect both games to be very tough but we know if we play as well as we can we’ll be able to get the results needed.”
Bann must win their pool to progress to the knockout stages but their opener against French side St Germain is tricky.
The Paris side have the Genestet brothers — Martin, Hugo and Tom — in their ranks, and the Irish international squad know just how good they are.
Teams from the other pools which should hold considerable interest for the expected sell-out crowds are English giants Holcombe, Dutch side Kampong and Germany’s Hamburg.
Holcombe not only have Ulsterman Iain Lewers, but also fellow Great Britain Olympians Barry Middleton, George Pinner, Sam Ward and Dan Fox, while Kampong have Irish international goalkeeper David Harte.
Hamburg have Moritz Fuchs and Nicolas Jacobi, both of whom won bronze with Germany at the Rio Olympics, so it’s clearly a quality competition.
Off the pitch, the Bann club have done incredibly well to muster over 120 volunteers to ensure the three days are going to be successful both on and off the pitch.
They are expecting fans from not only north and south of the border and England, Scotland and Wales, but also from visiting clubs in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Russia, France, Poland and Italy.
There will be a shopping village, music in the Guinness Tent and the Food Heartland Village will be on site for all to enjoy.
The tournament starts on Friday (11.45am). Banbridge play St Germain on Saturday (2.45pm) and Royal Leopold on Sunday (3.45pm).
Tickets are available online or can be bought at the gate.
There is no domestic programme due to the Euro series.