Western Wildcats claim first Scottish indoor hockey title

Western Wildcats are Men's Indoor National League 1 champions (pic by Mark Pugh)
Western Wildcats are Men's Indoor National League 1 champions (pic by Mark Pugh)

Western Wildcats are Scottish national indoor hockey champions for the first time in the Milngavie club’s 140-year history.

Wildcats took the title with a thrilling shootout win over Grove Menzieshill at Bells Sports Centre in Perth.

The final ended 3-3 after normal time but it was Wildcats who held their nerve in the nail-biting finale of the running penalties shootout with Andrew McConnell, having already grabbed a hat-trick in the match itself, getting the vital score to seal a 2-1 win.

Formed in 1898, Western is the oldest existing hockey club in Scotland and have been Scottish outdoor champions seven times and won the Scottish Cup nine.

Now they have added the indoor crown to their roll of honour - and also secured a return to the European arena as their win gives them a place in next year’s EuroHockey Indoor Club championship.

Delighted club captain and keeper Gavin Sommerville said the club were as surprised as anyone to win a competition viewed in some quarters as simply as means of ticking over for a few weeks until the resumption of the outdoor season.

He said: “We finished fourth in National 2 last season and came up through the play-offs, so to achieve what we’ve done this seasons is outstanding.

“I’m so proud of the team and so grateful to the fans for coming along to support us.”

“This is our first indoor title, so it’s great and hopefully the start of things to come for us outdoor too.”

Wildcats got off to a flier in the final when their pace put Grove Menzieshill under early pressure and McConnell slammed home the opener. But the Dundee side hit back quickly, Albert Rowling’s powerful low finish squaring the match.

McConnell was a constant threat for Wildcats, but Grove Menzieshill were also dangerous and took the lead through Jamie Golden five minutes from half-time.

But Wildcats also came up with a quick reply as McConnell slotted home to make it 2-2.

Rob Harwood then brought out a terrific save from Grove Menzieshill keeper Steven McIlavey and the sides remained level at the break.

Grove Menzieshill squandered a great chance to regain the lead when they struck the post with a penalty flick.

And it was Wildcats who looked on course for the title when McConnell completed his hat-trick with an exceptional finish into the top corner from a tight angle to put them back in front with just six minutes left.

But yet again the team conceding hit back with Gavin Tomlinson finding the net to bring the Taysiders level once more.

McConnell almost got as fourth, firing just wide form the dge of the D, but there was no further scoring and the final went to a shootout - with McConnell, fittingly, scoring the winning penalty to take the trophy back to Auchenhowie.