Veteran ‘keeper James aims to Sheppard Wisbech Town Hockey Club to HA Trophy glory
AFTER 347 consecutive league appearances, three promotion campaigns and a relegation fight, veteran goalkeeper James Sheppard thinks he has seen it all at Wisbech Town Hockey Club.
But the 41-year-old is desperate to add one more piece of silverware to his collection - an HA Trophy winner’s medal.
Sheppard has suffered the agony of losing two HA Trophy finals with his hometown club; against Bournemouth in 2000 and Spencer in 2002.
But the shot-stopper helped his side reach the quarter-finals of this year’s contest with an 8-2 thrashing of Saffron Walden on Sunday - and he thinks 2012 could be Wisbech’s year.
“It would be lovely to win one,” he said. “The HA Trophy brings everyone at the club together - lots of people come to the games and everyone starts talking about it.
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“We are very proud of what we achieve in the cup competitions and I’d say that’s the same for every Wisbech sports team.
“That’s just Wisbech - we love to do well in the cup and it’s great for the town when we do.
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“We mention the tradition of the club in team talks. In one game I made the point that I can’t remember ever losing a home cup match. I told them we had to keep it going. That tradition can be a big driving force.”
Four goals from Sam Blunt as well as strikes from Sam Markille (2), Gavin Johnstone and Gary Freear secured a comfortable victory on Sunday.
Sheppard, who last year had trials for England Masters, said: “We’ve got a good squad and even our younger members have got experience.
“I’m experienced enough not to get too many nerves. I’ve been there, done it, made mistakes and learnt from them.”
Wisbech, who are the last remaining Eastern league team in the competition, host Middlesex side Ashford in the quarter-final on March 4.