Alford hockey ace delighted after dream Olympic start

Great Britain's Glenn Kirkham during the London Prepares Series Visa International Invitational at the Riverbank Stadium, Olympic Park, East London, 3rd May 2012. Photo: Ady Kerry Photography
Great Britain's Glenn Kirkham during the London Prepares Series Visa International Invitational at the Riverbank Stadium, Olympic Park, East London, 3rd May 2012. Photo: Ady Kerry Photography

ALFORD hockey star Glenn Kirkham couldn’t contain his delight after helping Great Britain’s men’s hockey team get their London 2012 adventure off to a dream start yesterday.

Midfielder Kirkham and co were eager to get underway at the capital’s Riverbank Arena, having watched as the women’s team thrashed Japan 4-0 to open their account just 24 hours earlier.

And it showed as the men got themselves off the mark with a 4-1 victory over Argentina, the goals coming from Richard Smith, Dan Fox and a double from captain Barry Middleton.

Kirkham is no stranger to the Riverbank Arena, having played there and finished fourth in May’s test event.

But the 31-year-old admitted running out in the iconic blue and pink arena under the bright Olympic lights and coming away with a victory would live in his memory for some time yet.

“It was always going to be a really difficult game because Argentina are notoriously a really difficult team to break down and have really quick forwards and can always hit you on the break, which is perhaps where we have struggled in the past,” he said.

“We haven’t taken our chances in the past when they come and we get frustrated and they hit us on the break and it is really tight.

“But this time we took our chances and that gave us some breathing space and that allowed us to play some free-flowing hockey from then on.

“It was great to get that first game underway and get a win under your belt in front of what was a great crowd – you don’t get an atmosphere like that at hockey normally.

“That was the first time we have played with a full crowd and it was just fantastic and something I will never forget.”

After waiting to make his London 2012 bow, the games now come thick and fast for the midfielder with group games with South Africa, Pakistan, Australia and Spain still to come before the knockout stages.

And after blowing away the cobwebs in the capital, Kirkham admits he can’t wait to get back out in front of the nation again.

“You can get sucked into village life a little bit and it is great because you see a lot of famous people and because you aren’t training a lot you are lulling around a little bit,” he added.

“But we just wanted to get on with it and nerves-wise I didn’t think we showed any which was great.

“South Africa is next and they had a tough start against Australia so will be looking to bounce back but after that first game we are all really confident and can’t wait to get another chance to show what we can do.”

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