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Hockey: Hampstead & Westminster success 'stressful' says Robertson

PUBLISHED: 10:30 26 April 2019

Hampstead & Westminster celebrate against Stourport (pic Mark Clews)

Hampstead & Westminster celebrate against Stourport (pic Mark Clews)

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Great Britain international Sarah Robertson admitted securing promotion to the Investec Women's League Premier Division with Hampstead & Westminster had been stressful.

Hampstead & Westminster celebrate against Stourport (pic Mark Clews)Hampstead & Westminster celebrate against Stourport (pic Mark Clews)

After a last-minute defeat against Slough in Nottingham in the first of three games in the four-team play-off, Hampstead headed to the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre knowing exactly what they had to do to achieve their objective.

And the East Conference champions dug deep to accomplish their mission, but Robertson said: “It was stressful! We'd lost the first game in the play-offs and knew we had to win both by quite a few goals.

“Loughborough were our main rivals and it wasn't until the 66th minute that we scored. That was tight.”

Lucy Hyams produced the vital winner against the Students to leave three teams tied on three points.

Hampstead & Westminster celebrate against Stourport (pic Mark Clews)Hampstead & Westminster celebrate against Stourport (pic Mark Clews)

Loughborough then faced Slough in their last match the next day, while Hampstead took on Stourport, who had lost their first two matches.

Mel Atkinson and former GB Olympian Emily Maguire netted twice each, with Jasmine Clark, Hayley Turner and Kate McCaw also on target to seal a 7-1 win and top spot ahead of Loughborough.

Robertson added: “Sunday we knew we had to score a lot of goals and it meant so much to the players and the club.

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“It was a fantastic weekend for the club. The supporters were brilliant and the women and men were supporting each other. We got promoted and then we ended up running on the pitch at the end of the men's match!”

Claiming a place in the top division of the women's league, where they will come up against the likes of six-time champions Surbiton, as well as other established clubs such as Holcombe, East Grinstead and Clifton Robinsons, felt especially sweet after going so close a year earlier.

And Robertson paid tribute to joint coaches Kate Richardson-Walsh, an Olympic gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Games, and Irish international Sarah Kelleher.

“It was such an amazing season last year, when it wasn't expected of us,” she said.

Hampstead & Westminster supporters look on (pic Mark Clews)Hampstead & Westminster supporters look on (pic Mark Clews)

“All of a sudden we were in a good place and won the league and it was so gutting not getting promoted, knowing we had to go and do it all again.

“The pressure was on us to do it again but the league was harder. We had such a good feel about the group. Kate and Sarah really helped us put expectations on ourselves, which helped massively in the play-offs.”

And while the guidance of their experienced coaches was vital, the togetherness of the squad also played a big part.

And 25-year-old Robertson, who has a combined 118 caps for GB and Scotland, feels that will stand them in good stead as they venture into the unknown in 2019/20.

“It's how close we are off the pitch. We like the people we're playing with. The club is big on the social side and it's a bonus that we're a good hockey team,” she said.

“We're so excited to play in the Prem and we're more than capable. We've played Prem teams and competed against them and beaten some of them. We knew we could compete, but the hardest bit was getting promoted.”

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