International hockey glory for former Mansfield and Belper player Andy Taylor

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Former Mansfield HC and Belper HC player Andy Taylor, of Sutton, led the England Masters hockey team to a memorable victory with a 100 per cent record at the Home Internationals in Swansea over the weekend.

Taylor is in his second season as manager of the national over-40s team and now has an international gold to go with his other accolades.

And this was achieved despite a late blow for the squad with their coach leaving just over a week before the competition.

England started the tournament on Friday night with a huge game against defending champions Ireland.

But, with the pain of last year’s defeat spurring England on, a terrific display saw them dominate the game and run out 3-0 victors to set them on their way.

Saturday saw England re-grouping to face the dangerous Scots, but a goal after just 35 seconds settled the nerves and they eventually ran out 4-2 victors meaning the title was within touching distance.

Sunday dinner saw the result of the Ireland v Scotland game come in, and to England’s joy it finished 0-0 meaning England had won the Home Internationals without hitting a ball.

They still had the final match to come against passionate hosts Wales. But England put on a fantastic display, romping home 8-1 to see them win the tournament with a 100 per cent record and give Taylor his first international gold.

“The whole weekend was one of passion and pride shown by all involved within the England team,” he said.

“ We took this weekend very seriously and set about our task with the sole intention of making sure we not only won the title back but did it in style.”

“The pressure was immense. We kept it quiet that just eight days prior to the tournament our coach had removed himself from his post. So it was left to myself to take the team solo to the tournament, but to a man everyone stood up and played their part.

“We had a squad of very experienced players and player-coaches who took responsibility and made my job a lot easier than it could have been.”

England are now preparing for their next tournament in Edinburgh at the end of the month when once again they will face Wales and Scotland.

But the main focus is on the upcoming European Championships in St Albans during August.

Taylor added: The draw for the Europeans sees us open our campaign on August 22nd against Italy – a team we have never faced.

“This will be followed by Wales with the final pool match against the Germans, who we beat into third place at last year’s World Cup in Rotterdam.

“We go into this as second in the rankings behind the Dutch, but we firmly believe this season’s squad can compete and gain positive results against anyone in the world.”

Taylor now has the full spectrum of medals with a bronze at last year’s world cup, followed by silver at the Home Nations in Ireland last year and now has that first all important winners’ medal.