Golden weekend for Wisbech as hat-trick heroes inspire league and cup glory

VETERAN goalkeeper James Sheppard toasted the best weekend of Wisbech Hockey Club’s season after they reached the HA Trophy semi-finals for the third time.

Sam Blunt’s second-half hat-trick stunned promotion-chasing Ramgarhia on Saturday as Wisbech sealed a 5-3 victory in the league.

But things got even better on Sunday as a second treble - this time from Gavin Johnstone - put Wisbech on the brink of another national final.

Johnstone’s goals gave his side a 3-1 win over Ashford in the quarter-finals of the HA Trophy - and Sheppard said the first team were desperate for cup glory.

“We haven’t had a weekend like that in a long while,” he said. “It was fantastic.

“If we’d lost on Sunday we would have been heartbroken. We would almost have sacrificed Saturday in order to get through - but as it happens we won both.

“It gives a boost to the whole club and everyone is talking about it.”

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The 41-year-old ‘keeper, who looks set to make his 350th consecutive league appearance for Wisbech tomorrow, said excitement was high for a semi-final trip to Gateshead on March 25.

“The team spirit is amazing and everyone is happy,” he said. “We absolutely love playing at the moment.

“There are a few young lads who were disappointed when we lost in the quarter-final a few years ago - so they have now reached a stage they hadn’t before.”

Gary Freear and Brad Apted put Wisbech ahead in Saturday’s bad-tempered Premier B fixture. Ramgarhia fought back to lead 3-2 at half time but Blunt’s second-half treble sparked wild celebrations.

Things looked bleak on Sunday as Ashford took the lead inside a minute - but Apted’s sparkling midfield display and Johnstone’s hat-trick put them in the semi-finals for the third time in their history.

Sheppard added: “Despite the rain we got a good crowd on Sunday. All of our teams get great support - it’s just an absolutely amazing club.”