Newcastle all set for Battle of Britain match
26th May 2017
Few sporting occasions stir the blood quite like an England v Scotland clash. This weekend, England’s finest volleyballers will have the chance to experience the oldest of local derbies as both the men’s and women’s national teams take on their Scottish counterparts in a double-header contest.
Sport Central in Newcastle, home to NVL powerhouses Team Northumbria, will play host to the fixtures. The women are due on court at 16:00 on Saturday, followed by the men at 18:00. They’ll then to it all again the next day, with the women playing at 11:00 and the men at 13:00.
For the men, the weekend’s double-header represents the next step along the path of rebuilding a senior national team programme. That journey saw the team participating in the CEV European Championship qualifiers last year. As well as featuring a memorable 3-1 win over Hungary, the competition was also noteworthy for a changing of the guard as the last of the 2012 Olympians made their final national team appearances.
It's therefore a new-look squad which heads to Newcastle, including 17 year-old Jack Williams from Wessex who secured his place in the squad after impressing in recent training camps.
Team captain Adam Bradbury said: “After a couple of really great training camps and then some friendly matches against the Scots in Glasgow last weekend which the coaches used to select the final squad, we’re really looking forward to the official action getting underway this weekend. England matches don’t come around too often, so we want to make the most of this.”
With volleyball’s funding having been very much under the microscope in recent months, the fact that these fixtures are taking place at all is testament to how the volleyball community has rallied round to keep the national programmes going.
Volleyball England has been able to part-fund the project but invaluable support has also been provided by Sports Central and the Ruth Gorse Academy in Leeds, where the men have been training recently. Likewise, it was men’s coach Simon Loftus who was able to use his existing Scottish networks to help line up an opposition side who are unlikely to be lacking in motivation.
“I’ve got to say a big thankyou to everyone that’s played a part in making this weekend possible,” continued Bradbury. “We know that volleyball in this country is operating in very different financial circumstances nowadays – but we still want to see England’s best players back out on court, playing together and getting a sense of just what we could achieve. This weekend’s double-header is a big step along that path. If you’re in the Newcastle area next weekend, make sure you come along and watch!”
The England men’s squad for the two fixtures contains Adam Bradbury, Alex Jenkins, Owen Lamb, Ryan Kenny. Sonny Chaney, Ieuan Lamb, George Wainwright, Guy Farquharson, Darius Setsoafia, Toby French, Jordan Dalrymple, Liam Jenkinson, Jack Williams and Ryan Heath.
The women’s squad contains Grace Lazard, Amelia Stamp, Ellie Cranch, Eva Borrowdale, Faye Hills, Fran Smith-Daye, Holly Bentley, Jessica Lane, Molly Van Essen, Paige Fullerton, Rheanne Lord, Sophie Szyszko and Verere Oyearone.