Two-goal hero Matt Guise-Brown paid tribute to Hampstead and Westminster player-coach Kwan Browne after the side from Paddington Rec saw off Surbiton 3-1 to win the Men’s Hockey League title.
“When you talk about Kwane, I couldn’t even put it into words.” said Guise-Brown. “The attention to detail in his coaching, how good he is still as a player and how committed to the cause he is. I don’t have enough adjectives to describe how much of an influence he’s been and the impact he’s had on the side.”
Guise-Brown’s two goals, both penalty corners took his tally to 15 for the season and put Hampstead on the brink of an emotional title win against their rivals, Surbiton.
Having endured a frustrating day in the semi-final on Saturday, where he was unable to find the net, thanks to a combination of good goalkeeping and bad luck, Guise-Brown came good when it mattered. He was overjoyed at his contribution to Hampstead and Westminster’s win.
“He’s a good keeper, Hujwan and Beeston have good penalty corner defence as we saw yesterday. Today, it all came together and I couldn’t be happier. It’s unbelievable. For the team and for the club, it’s unreal. I’m a bit lost for words at the moment, I’m ecstatic.”
Hampstead stamped their authority on a very competitive and physical game early on and Will Calnan had already gone close when Guise-Brown put them in front on 15 minutes. Sam French had a great chance to make it 2-0 on the stroke of quarter time but his shot flew wide of the far post.
Alan Forsyth, the league’s top scorer had his first sight of goal in the second quarter, turning and unleashing an absolute rocket of a strike that somehow Toby Reynolds-Cotterill got both gloves to and kept out.
The game picked up a notch both in terms of pace and physicality and Surbiton thought they had levelled through Brendan Creed at a penalty corner. Umpire Dan Barstow disallowed the goal for an infringement earlier on in the play. At the other end, James Gall produced a cricket style clearance from another Guise-Brown penalty corner and it was still 1-0 at half time.
Five minutes after the re-start Hampstead doubled their lead and it was Guise-Brown’s penalty corner prowess once again that did the damage.
Surbiton began to look visibly frustrated with players on the sideline becoming more and more animated with every passing minute.
With eight minutes to go, the reigning champions brought themselves back into the match. Creed’s aerial pass picked out Tom Sorsby and his cross-shot found the net via a defender’s stick.
Surbiton rallied and Reynolds-Cotterill saved well from Luke Taylor’s penalty corner and then somehow kept out another thunderbolt from Forsyth.
Every tackle and interception from a Hampstead player was cheered by their raucous fans as the clock counted down and when Sam French slotted the third into an unguarded net after Surbiton had gone to kicking back, the party started for the Paddington Rec side.
“We’ve been getting better and better over the last three seasons since Kwan Browne’s come in.” said Guise-Brown. “We lost in the semi-finals to Wimbledon and then the final last year to Surbiton so it’s good to eventually get over the line.”
With Hampstead and Westminster’s women sealing promotion to the Premier divison and their men’s sdie winning the title, Guise-Brown grinned and said they “might have one or two beers tonight.” Those beers are well earned.