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Cambridge City Hockey Club Men’s first team sign Australian Premier Division One Charlie Norman ahead of new season





An exciting addition has been made to Cambridge City’s squad ahead of their England Hockey Men’s Division One North 2023/24 campaign, with the new arrival having just won one of the best hockey leagues in the world’, according to head coach Grant Gilmour.

Charlie Norman, from Australia, has agreed to come to City after he won the Premier Division One last weekend.

Speaking with excitement around their latest coup, Gilmour said: “From what we have seen and what we have heard about him in Australia, he is top class and we’re lucky to get him in.

Cambridge City Hockey Club's Men's I ahead of their pre-season clash against Sevenoaks. Picture: Ali Small
Cambridge City Hockey Club's Men's I ahead of their pre-season clash against Sevenoaks. Picture: Ali Small

“We know he’s got pedigree, he starts in a great team in Australia that have just won one of the best hockey leagues in the world. He’s clearly got talent, we watched him play and I’m looking forward to having him here.”

The 21-year-old will be joined by another player from Down Under who has recently joined Cambridge University, but he will not be available for selection until November.

“When he turns up he’ll be a really good asset to the team and it means the guys who will be playing, until he comes in, are guys that we know can fill in that role. We can build together a squad rather than a team,” said Gilmour.

Despite adding talent to their squad, the City head coach is frustrated at the amount of players they have lost over the summer, as he attempts to build a side with depth in every position.

“It’s the same every year for me. I have to replace players that go and we seem to lose seven or eight players every season. This summer we’ve lost nine,” said Gilmour.

“Part of that is because four lads have gone to university, so we’ll miss the few years of experience they’ve got but we can start again with the next set of recruits.

“I’ve got five really good youngsters coming through for this year, but it’s the really experienced players that are tough to replace. It’s been such a busy summer for me, it’s tough.”

One of the players who will certainly be missed is veteran Redvers Wilbur, who was at the club for more than 10 years.

He will be available for the first few games of this season, however is moving to New Zealand, where his family are from.

Wilbur was part of City’s sixth placed finish in Division One last campaign, winning six, drawing twice and losing 10 times. Having made a positive start to the 2022/23 campaign, they only won two of their last 12 matches – which disappointed Gilmour – but he believes they have a stronger squad this time around.

“We always seem to start better in the first half of the season and do worse in the second. It was frustrating to not come in the top five. We just let the results slip,” said Gilmour.

“We’ve worked really hard on mentality and trying to stay as a really good team who enjoys playing together, so we’re trying to work on socials a bit more this year. You play better when you’re fighting for each other because you like one another.

“Sometimes I’m worried I get too into it, but that’s who I am. I really like being part of the team, not just being a head coach. They’ll (the players) fight for me if we’re on good standings.”

City have partaken in four pre-season games this summer, and their most recent came in a 1-0 defeat away at Canterbury.

Despite the loss, the City head coach was more than pleased with the performance and he felt his side “should have been 5-0 up at half-time” in a “dominant” display.

Their first test of the campaign comes away on Sunday (September 24) at Loughborough University, who did the double over City last season, winning 2-0 and 4-1.

On the weekend’s curtain raiser, Gilmour said: “There are teams that you like playing, and teams that you just completely dislike.

“They play good hockey, they’ve got a great coach and they’re always in and around the top three places.

“For me, I want to finish in a minimum of a place above what we did last year. We have the potential to do it, but it’s all down to how the season rolls out.

“We’ve got potential to beat them, but it’s all about early goals. The university sides are young, which means they’re really fit and they’ll run around all day long, but where we’ve got a more senior group of players, if we can go ahead it will get into their heads easier than it will ours.

“But it is very difficult to do that against teams that are so good, which Loughborough are.”

Gilmour has set his sights on finishing one place better than last campaign and will hope they can break their curse of tailing off in the second part of the season.



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