They appeared as one of ten teams split into two groups of five: Cranleigh had victories over Thomas Deacon Academy (6-2), Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Wakefield (2-0), Dean Close School (4-3), and Bromsgrove School (4-3) to come top of their group. In the semi-final they beat Taunton School (1-0) before facing arch rivals Whitgift School in the final.
This was the third consecutive meeting of these two schools in National Finals at U18 level in the past 12 months, and this proved to be another pulsating encounter. Cranleigh enjoyed an advantage in terms of possession and territory: they were awarded six penalty corners and conceded none. All of the players on both sides played with sharpness and intensity, Cranleigh head coach Richard Organ commented that “this was the best Indoor hockey that I have seen at school-boy level for some years”.
The score at full time was 1-1, with Cranleigh having had a second goal disallowed. At the end of a round of three penalty flicks the score was also 1-1. In the end the matter was settled by sudden death, and Whitgift came out on top. This was an exact repetition of the circumstances twelve months ago.
For Cranleigh to match the skill and might of a much larger school was incredible. What was particularly impressive was how well the boys conducted themselves after their defeat. The way to bounce back is to do the best a team can in the Outdoor competition: last May Cranleigh achieved this by winning the Championship having met Whitgift in the final, and the score line was exactly the same then too!