Former Belper Hockey Club player Hollie Webb’s eyes were so full of tears that a silver lining was always going to be hard to find after a heartbreaking defeat to Australia in the gold-medal match at the Commonwealth Games.
With only 11 seconds left on the clock in normal time, this young and inexperienced England women’s hockey side were on the verge of a superb and quite remarkable victory.
Lily Owsley’s strike had put them 1-0 up midway through the second half and the whole team had defended as if their lives depended on it in the face of mounting pressure from the reigning champions.
But with almost the final play of the game, the dam finally burst, Jodie Kenny firing home from a penalty corner to send the game to a shootout where the Aussies held their nerve to seal a 3-1 win.
Defeats do not come much more devastating than that, but at the start of this summer few would have given England a chance of a medal at these Games as they limped to an 11th place finish in the World Cup.
And while Webb, 23, a former pupil of The Ecclesbourne School in Duffield, admitted the positives were hard to find just at the moment, she insisted England would bounce back stronger for their experiences in Glasgow. There were just 11 seconds left on the clock and we conceded so it is pretty devastating,” she said.
“We played well and everyone else who has played Australia has had big scorelines against them, we were within 11 seconds of beating them.
“We had a very disappointing World Cup, we are not 11th in the world in our eyes and this tournament was to prove it to the world and everyone else that we can compete against the best teams in the world like Australia.
“We have to take the positives from this tournament, we have obviously improved from the World Cup and we need to build on that moving forward.”
Only two members of England’s 16-woman squad at Glasgow 2014 – Alex Danson and skipper Kate Richardson-Walsh – are over the age of 27.
And performance director Danny Kerry admitted that his greenhorn troops will only get stronger from the heartbreak suffered at the Commonwealth Games. Given the age of some of the kids running around in this team, they have got an enormous amount of positives to take from that,” he said.
“We have just matched the team that have wiped everyone else off the park so I am chuffed to bits.”
n Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. It works with sports, Sponsors and Sport England to support the development of athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.