Back where we belong: Brooklands MU forward Aidan Khares says team unfazed by top flight return

After a 12-month absence from the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League, Brooklands MU are back in the big time and forward Aidan Khares intends to grab his opportunity with both hands.

The 22-year-old, who lives in Manchester and works as a hockey specialist coach at Manchester Grammar School, insists Brooklands have learnt from their 2013 relegation and are now more streetwise and better equipped to compete with England’s best club sides.

TALL ORDER: Brooklands and Khares (far left) have a big year ahead 

Early season fixtures against fellow promoted club-side Southgate and last term’s strugglers Cannock present opportunities for an electric start to the new campaign.

But Khares is refusing to look too far ahead presently and is instead concentrating on his own team’s performances and preparation rather than looking at the challenges elsewhere. 

“For us to be competitive this season it’s about not changing anything, take every game as it comes and treating every team we face with the respect that they deserve,” said Khares. “The key is not changing the way we play our game at all.

“A lot of our players were in the squad that got relegated two years ago. We all know what it takes to stay up as a team, we have had a really good pre-season, and we’ve been to Belgium.

“We started our pre-season very early, we have a really good team spirit and we’re all very fit and raring to go.

“We’re hopeful of finishing in mid-table and having a really good push in the league this season.

“Southgate obviously came up with us and Cannock narrowly missed out on relegation – these are two teams we’re targeting in our opening fixtures.”

Khares, who studied at Nottingham Trent University, has been inspired by watching the performances of England at the Commonwealth Games and also the recent hockey World Cup.

Long-term ambitions are obviously to force his way into the international reckonings but for the time being Khares has vowed to concentrate on impressing in Brooklands colours this year. 

“It’s a massive opportunity for us as a team and also for me personally,” he added. “We know every team in the league will be looking to beat us because we have only just come up.

“We know though we play very well at home, we tend to be strong at our own place and that’s because not too many of the teams like to travel up north to face us.

“It is very inspiring watching the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games – it gets so much TV coverage and it’s certainly where I want to get to.

“I’m not getting carried away though and I know my primary aim for this season is firstly to keep performing for my club and to see where that takes me.”

NOW: Pensions is the official sponsor of the England Men’s Hockey League. Follow @NOWhockey or go to


Wimbledon – James Bailey Level: England, GB From: Reading To: Wimbledon England No2 goalkeeper moves to playoff rivals

Ian Sloan Level: Soon to qualify for England and GB From: Loughborough Students To: Wimbledon Ireland international who has deferred from international hockey to qualify to play for England and Great Britain leaves relegated Students to join playoff contenders Wimbledon

Holcombe – George Pinner Level: England, GB From: Beeston To: Holcombe England and GB No1 goalkeeper moves to Conference side Holcombe to chase promotion

Nick Catlin Level: England, GB From: Reading To: Holcombe England and GB star moves to conference side Holcombe to chase promotion

Iain Lewers Level: England, GB From: East Grinstead To: Holcombe England and GB star moves to conference side Holcombe to chase promotion

Allan Dick Level: Scotland (Retired) From: Holcombe To: Southgate Goalkeeper announced his retirement from international hockey over the summer steps in to fill the big shoes of retired goalkeeper Chris Hibbert

Hampstead and Westminster – Harry Gibson Level: England U21 From: Loughborough Students To: Hampstead and Westminster England U21 goalkeeper moves south from relegated Loughborough Students to join H&W influx of new players

Andy Hayward Level: New Zealand From: Howick Pakuranga To: Hampstead and Westminster New Zealand penalty corner specialist, who scored 6 goals at the world cup moves to join influx of new players at H&W

Pau Freixa Sureda Level: Spain From: Atlètic Terrassa To: Hampstead and Westminster Spanish star makes the move from Cataluña to Hampstead and Westminster

Harry Slater Level:  From: Reading To: Hampstead and Westminster Experienced Premier League midfielder moves to join Hampstead from Reading

Nick Page Level:  From: Reading To: Hampstead and Westminster Experienced Premier League performer moves to join Hampstead from Reading

Matthew Botha Level: Ex-South Africa From: Royal Antwerp To: Hampstead and Westminster Ex South Africa international adds to Hampstead recruitment

Richard Alexander Level: Former England and GB From: Wimbledon To: Hampstead and Westminster Having taken the job as Head of Hockey at Merchant Taylor’s School, the distinctive “Ratman” moves to Hampstead after a successful spell at Wimbledon.

East Grinstead – Paddy Smith Level: England, GB From: Cannock To: East Grinstead England and GB goalkeeper moves to East Grinstead to challenge himself in EHL

Chris Griffiths Level: England, GB From: Loughborough Students To: East Grinstead Relegated Loughborough lose their captain who has just broken into the Great Britain central squad

Cannock – Rob Farrington Level: England U21 From: Loughborough Students To: Cannock England U21 star moves from relegated Loughborough to cup holders Cannock.

David Harris Level:  From: Khalsa To: Cannock North conference player of the year and scorer of 18 goals last season rejoins Cannock after one-year absence

Surbiton – David Beckett Level: England, GB From: Cannock To: Surbiton England and GB star who struck 13 goals last season leaves cup holders to join playoff contenders Surbiton.

Lewis Prosser Level: Wales From: Gantoise (France) To: Surbiton 2011 Hockey Wales player of the year returns from France after a busy summer including the Commonwealth Game

Nick Cooper Level:  From: University Of Exeter To: Surbiton West conference top scorer last season with 22 goals moves up to the Premier League

Rupert Shipperley Level: Wales From: Cardiff and Met To: Surbiton Brother of England and GB’s Zoe, the Welsh international adds yet more depth to Surbiton squad

William Marshall Level: Scotland From: Sheffield Hallam To: Surbiton Scotland star who impressed last year for relegated Sheffield Hallam and during this summer’s Commonwealth games heads to Sugden road

Beeston – Jamie Cachia Level: Scotland From: Sheffield Hallam To: Beeston Scotland goalkeeper who starred at Commonwealth Games replaces Pinner at Beeston.

James Gall Level: England U21 From: Surbiton To: Beeston One half of the promising Gall brothers moves to Beeston as he is starting at university in Nottingham

Reading – Tommy Alexander Level:  From: Indian Gym To: Reading Goalkeeper steps in to compete for the place vacated by James Bailey.

Canterbury – Stephane Panigoni Level: France From: FC Lyon To: Canterbury French international defender moves with teammate to Kent side

Edgar Reynaud Level: France From: FC Lyon To: Canterbury French goalkeeper makes the move to battle with Diccon Stubbings for the No1 jersey

Juan Martinez Penalver Level: Spain From: Sardinero (Spain) To: Canterbury Spanish defender joins the European contingent at Polo Farm



East Grinstead: Last season’s playoff runners-up have returned to European competition after a year’s absence. Captained by former GB star Glenn Kirkham and boasting plenty of international talent in their ranks they will be one of the pre-season favourites

Beeston: Reigning champions have lost star goalkeeper George Pinner but still have their core of internationals including Adam Dixon, Ollie Willars, Ben Arnold, Tim Whiteman and Harry Martin

Reading: New Head Coach Andy Watts aims to bring his side back into Europe after failing to qualify for the first time in over 20 years.

Surbiton: Todd Williams’ side have recruited well with plenty of firepower added to an already potent strike force. Aiming to improve on their third place in last year’s playoffs.

Canterbury: Lead by Trinidad and Tobago legend Kwan Browne who  remains one of the best players and best coaches in the league.

Wimbledon: In their second season in the top flight Wimbledon have added England star James Bailey in goal and will call on Phil Roper, who impressed at the CWG to fire them to playoffs

Hampstead and Westminster: After two disappointing campaigns, Hampstead have made some stellar signings, the most eye catching being that of Blacksticks’ star Andy Hayward who netted six goals at the World Cup.

Cannock: All change at Cannock as new coach John Bell aims to build on their NOW: Pensions Men’s Cup win last season and move the team up the league.

Brooklands MU: Back after a 1 year absence from the top flight after relegation in 2012-13 Brooklands’ brand of attacking hockey and the penalty corner goals of Peter Flanagan will cause teams plenty of problems.

Southgate: Back after one season away from the top flight, new coach, South African Jonty Robinson steps in after the legendary Chris Hibbert retired last season.

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