Bankers can overtake rivals Hallam: Gandhi

Sheffield Bankers Hockey Club
Sheffield Bankers Hockey Club
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Two sides, one city... but Sheffield University Bankers hockey club are determined to overtake their rivals in the future despite being held to a hard-fought draw in the volatile derby against Hallam seconds away last weekend.

It was a particularly difficult game for Bankers man-of-the match Joel Gandhi, who joined the club at the beginning of the season after playing for opponents Hallam last year.

However, the 20-year-old Londoner, who also captains the Sheffield University first team, says he made the right decision switching clubs - and believes the Bankers can develop and become the best in the city.

“It was difficult but I needed to swap so I could play alongside a lot of the players that I play with at University level also. It was the only way to progress and improve,” said the centre-back.

“Bankers made it easy for me when I joined as they were so welcoming and I loved the direction they wanted to go in with the focus on pushing up the leagues but also developing the whole club too.

“I definitely think we can be the best in Sheffield and even though Hallam have had the advantage for a long time, things are changing.

“We have a brilliant set up and ethos here at the club.

“It will take a bit of time as Hallam have a few England players and their first team are in a higher league but they have also lost a couple of key figures and we are getting better all the time.”

Last Saturday Bankers remained unbeaten in the North 1 Division League, drawing 1-1 away in an intense derby match at Abbeydale - without key player and captain Matt Godden, who is out for five weeks with a broken jaw.

The deadlock was broken by the home side early in the second-half after a swift counter attack, however Bankers clawed back a point, ten minutes from time, when Jimmy Osbourne pounced on a loose ball three metres out, much to the delight of the large number of visiting supporters.

“The atmosphere out there was electric and it was fantastic to be out there playing even though it was difficult against old team mates,” explained Joel, who is in his second year studying geography and urban planning.

“It was a classic hockey game - incredibly intense and at times it was very difficult with such ferocity on the pitch with quite a few yellow cards were given out.

“Overall, though, I think the result was a fair one. But if we had been more clinical with our finishing then it would have been a different story.

“We are definitely capable of beating them when they come to our place next time.

“They won’t be used to the type of pitch we play on and hopefully by then our captain will be back to strengthen our side.”

This weekend Joel has warned that Bankers must not be complacent at home against bottom of the league Crewe Vagrants as they look to retain their top-of-the-table form.

“Just because they are struggling does not mean it will be easy - sometimes those are the hardest games,” said the former Southgate first-team player.

“We have the home advantage so we have to make it pay. Against Hallam we didn’t make our chances count so we’ve be focusing on that this week in training.

“Each game we aim to win and we want to win in style. The new attacking formation has been great for us as goals have been flying in, which we need to continue.

“We are targeting promotion this year but first and foremost we have to focus on the next game in front of us and not get carried away.”