Canterbury look to a land downunder

Aussie PC specialist brought in for relegation dogfight
Friday, January 30th, 2015

Canterbury are counting on Australia international Craig Boyne to up the stakes in the NOW: Pensions Premier Division relegation battle. Penalty corner specialist Boyne, 26, is a new signing to go along with Mexican Francisco Montoya as the bottom club, with only one win so far, meet Hampstead & Westminster at Polo Farm on Sunday. Both players scored in a 3-2 friendly win against second-placed Surbiton on Sunday.

Gus Oates, chairman of the Polo Farm sports club, said: “We need Craig to support the young players we have here. We have been asking a lot of them. He is a forward but we will probably play him in midfield. He is still in the Australia squad and he will have to go back there if he is in the running for the Rio Olympics. He is a proven goalscorer and corner drag-flicker.

"He has played for Beeston before but his wife comes from Canterbury so we are hoping he will be here for some time.

“It’s a challenge but I am confident we can stay up. We are in the building process for next season. The top four in the premier division look home and dry but there is nobody safe in the bottom six.”

Canterbury have a huge junior following, as witnessed in the Hockey Writers’ Club Higgins player of the year awards last month where, in true hockey family fashion, Gus's son James took third place in the Under-16s category, Lizzie Neal won the Under-16 award and Anna Baker was the Under-18 runner-up. Canterbury’s England midfielder Susannah Townsend took the senior award.

“We have just got to get the senior players to stay,” said Gus, who is leading a £6million expansion at the 50-acre site at Polo Farm.

They have three water-based pitches, with plans for five, and are in the middle of building an indoor hockey centre as well as boost the cricket facilities there. Work on a new clubhouse and stands is due to start in June.

The club reached Wembley in the recent indoor 5s tournament and were just edged out in the final against East Grinstead.

“We see a bright future here at Canterbury,” said Gus. "The women are already in Europe. We want the men there too. Our main sponsors are Citibank and we have lots of local ones too. We are doing all this expansion ourselves without any other help from outside sources. We don’t want anyone else dictating our policy. We have raised all the money ourselves. Christchurch University are our main partners with Kent University sponsoring our ladies.
"All good clubs raise the game in this country and we are hoping to set the new benchmark."

First published on the Daily Express website