As you’ll no doubt have seen if you’re a regular visitor to the site or to my social media channels, this year I have been lucky enough to begin a partnership with Mercian Hockey. I’ve been using the kit for a little while now, so thought it’d be a good time to put up a review and let people know my thoughts on it so far.
For some context, before this season I had used Obo for my goalkeeping kit for around 15 years. My feeling towards the end of that time was that I wasn’t sure the Obo kit was worth the money anymore.
The kickers in particular, I was going through at a much quicker rate than I had previously. With the price now at over £300 a pair, if you’re not a sponsored player or rich, (I was/am neither) my personal feeling is that going through two pairs or more a season gets pricey very quickly. I started looking at alternatives and that’s how conversations with Mercian began.
The range I’ve gone for is the Elite Range, the same kit used by Great Britain’s George Pinner.
The first thing I noticed immediately about these is that they are massive! I’m just under 6’2″ and went for the large legguards. The change in shape and style of pads from the Obo I had previously used was a bit of an adjustment and initially, I thought I should maybe have gone for the mediums instead. After a few sessions though the pads started to mould and shape to my body and I started to get to used to them. Obviously everyone is different so if you’re around my height, you may prefer the mediums.
The leg guards seem like they have a large front face and the protection and rebound is excellent. Once I got used to the shape and size of the pads, I’ve definitely found them easier and easier to use and been very happy with them.
There is a strap to attach the leg guards to the kickers. I read somewhere that it is a good idea to use an O-ring (available in all good DIY shops, and rubbish ones too) to attach this, so that’s what I did. This helps to limit the amount of twisting when you slide and it seems to have done the trick.
There are 3 layers of foam on the inside and the protection reflects that. As does the rebound. The rebound on the kickers is RIDICULOUS! I was worried about having the straps on the outside having come from the “hidden” straps design with Obo but it’s not been an issue at all. If you get a decent connection, that ball is gone!
Slightly different to the legguards, which took a little while to bed in, the kickers were good to go straight out of the box. They seem to be a softer foam than other models and that shows as I have some wear around the toes. The kickers are heat bonded so I’m not worried about that wear and tear leading to them splitting or coming apart and I’m certainly not worried about some aesthetic wear. Make no mistake, these kickers are great!
The left glove (pictured) has four layers of thick foam and like the rest of the kit, the rebound is excellent.
The finger holes are just the right size and the strap allows you to tighten it if you prefer the glove to sit a little more snugly on your hand. It’s very comfortable and light but the lightness doesn’t compromise the protection or rebound.
The right glove has a large face and provides good coverage for the wrist and forearm. The padding doesn’t look like much but it provides more than adequate rebound and protection. The stick sits snugly in the glove and it’s easy enough to get it flat on the floor on both front and backhand.
The stick I’ve gone for is Mercian Evolution DM Goalkeeping Stick. The technical spiel on the website says:
“An 80% carbon shell gives exceptional stiffness for strong, powerful saves. The full-size field stick shaft ensures high levels of composite strength for multiple saves and clearances. The full hook indoor profile head maximises saving area and facilitates speedy movements. The balance point is adjusted to remove weight from the head and place it mid-shaft to ease speed of movement but maximise strength.”
I’m not a complicated man so I don’t know much about that, what I do know is it has a good balance point and despite not feeling too heavy in the hand, any hard shots that I’ve somehow managed to get a stick to have been deflected away comfortably. So I’d have to say the blend of balance and weight is pretty spot on. I was sceptical about changing from my old Obo Fatboy which was the best stick I’d ever had up till this point but this has not disappointed.
It probably seems odd to mention the bag I got (the Evolution GK Kit bag with wheels, fact fans) but basically it’s massive, it fits all the kit in and is absolutely fine for its purpose. The reason I mention it though, is because of the rain shield. As a resident of the North of England where it rains almost every day, the rain shield has been a game changer. It’s used every time I play or train. So although it might seem simple, as features go, this is bloody brilliant.
If you’ve read this far you’ve probably rolled your eyes several times and thought “well he would say that, he’s sponsored” which is fair enough. I get that almost daily from the Obo cult of my fellow goalkeepers at my club.
I used Obo for a very long time and as I’ve already said, because of that the adjustment to the shape and size of the Mercian kit took me a while. However now the kit has moulded to my body and has worn in a little I’ve been delighted with it. The rebound has been the most striking positive (as well as the rain shield!), especially on the kickers and I would have no hesitation in recommending this kit to any goalkeepers looking for some new stuff. Oh and it’s a lot kinder to your wallet (without compromising the protection) than a lot of other brands.
Obviously you can take or leave what I’ve said above, and I’d understand that. The best advice I can give is to go to a shop and try the kit on and see for yourself. However if George Pinner, Tyler Lovell, Amy Tennant, Tommy Alexander, Amy Gibson and plenty of others are using Mercian’s different ranges, it must be pretty decent. Right?