Western Wildcats win first Scottish hockey title in 18 years

Western Wildcats are Scottish outdoor hockey men’s champions for the first time in 18 years.

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Western Wildcats celebrate after clinching the Premiership title (pic: Mark Pugh)
Western Wildcats celebrate after clinching the Premiership title (pic: Mark Pugh)

The Milngavie club secured the Premiership crown in style on Saturday with a 7-2 win over closest challengers Grange before a bumper crowd at Auchenhowie.

The win maintained Western’s unbeaten record for the season, with one league game still to play, and puts them on the brink of a treble with the indoor title already secured and a Scottish Cup final against Hillhead to come next month

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“It was brilliant,” said skipper Rob Harwood. “A lot of people came down to support and we've not really had a crowd like that since pre-Covid.

"It was great to have that support and it was really noticeable on the pitch how much everyone really wanted it.

"We went 1-0 down early on, but in the second quarter we managed to get two goals in the space of a minute which really turned the game in our favour.

"We went into the last quarter at 2-2 and knew we needed a draw but it was still in the balance.

"But we scored three goals in the space of the first six minutes of the final quarter which really settled the nerves and we were able just to enjoy that last quarter, knowing that we'd done enough."

Harwood is one of a number of local players who have come through the ranks at Western and says the triumph means a huge amount to everyone connected with the club.

He said: "There's quite a few guys in the squad who have come through at Western and grown up in Milngavie and you can see what it means to them, as well as the older guys who have been there for years.

"You can see how hard people have worked over the years to get us to that point so there was a lot of relief and joy on Saturday.

"Coming through at Western in my teenage years there wasn't really that success in the first team to look on at.

"Now the guys coming through on the fringes of the squad, or the younger guys watching, I think it will be really inspiring for them to see where we're at now and what we're trying to strive to achieve.

"That's the standard that's set now and hopefully that transpires through the different age groups that that's where the club is headed.

"There are a variety of factors. Confidence is so high and everyone believes in each other's ability. We've become really close as a group of players this season.

"It's been good at training, really competitive but also really positive and right through the season the confidence has just grown.

"Hopefully if we can retain a lot of the the squad and even add to it we can build a platform for years to come and try and replicate some of the success the likes of Grange and Kelburne have had over a number of years.