Double dream is alive as West Hampstead are crowned champions
West Hampstead 3
River Oxford 1
THE celebrations could finally begin for West Hampstead on Saturday as Harry Willetts’ brace against Oxford saw them crowned champions of the Middx, Berks, Bucks and Oxon Regional 1.
The runaway leaders cruised to a 3-1 win, with the league’s top-scorer Rogier de Roy also on target to put them out of second-placed Slough’s reach with a game to spare.
With an England National Hockey Cup semi-final against Ashford to come on Sunday West Hampstead are now eyeing a league and cup double, rich reward for a season which has seen Jamie Dru’s side sweep all before them.
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West Hampstead have won 20 of their 21 games, scoring well over 100 goals in the process, but Ashford, who play in the division into which Dru’s side will now progress, represent their toughest test of the season.
“It feels a bit strange having played the way we have all season to only get promoted with one game to spare, but we got there in the end,” said Dru. “We’ve had our hearts set on promotion all season, and now we’ve done it, it’s a great feeling.
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“There were some celebrations in the bar after the game, everyone was in good spirits, but at the same time we know that Ashford on Sunday is now our first real test.
“We want to challenge in that league next year, so this is a good indication of how ready we are and how far we’ve come, it’s going to be a real challenge.”
With sights already being set on preparing for next season, Dru is hopeful of keeping hold of his key striker De Roy, who has enjoyed a sensational season, scoring 26 goals in the league.
De Roy is set to return to his native Holland in a few weeks, but Dru is confident his star player will return next season – and earlier should West Hampstead make the HA Cup final.
“Our big strength this season has been our attacking play and goal-scoring, and Rogier de Roy has been a big player for us,” added Dru. “He’s technically gifted, leads the line well and has all the right attributes a striker needs.
“Of course we’d like to have him next season. He’s due to go back to Holland to study, but if we make the cup final I think he’ll fly back to play.
“Before that, we have one final league game on Saturday, it’s a bit of a dead rubber but we won’t take it lightly, we want to keep our unbeaten record going all the way. It gives us the chance to play one or two different players.”