Legends of the EHL: Rob Short




In the second of our EHL Legends interviews, we speak to HGC’s Rob Short about winning his first piece of club silverware. The Canadian did so after over a decade playing in the Netherlands, describing it as something like his last chance saloon as he was 39 years old at the time.

Into the bargain, he won the MVP as HGC took the title of Europe’s best club for the 2010/11; here’s the story of how he led The Hague club to glory.

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Reflecting on the 2010/11 EHL, Rob Short said the tournament was always going be his “first and last chance” at grasping the Alain Danet Trophy. It was his 14th season in the Netherlands, coming agonisingly close the year before to the Hoofdklasse.

Looking back, Short said it was a competition he wanted to be part of ever since it was introduced.

“The EHL was the most professional tournament the world of hockey had seen,” he said. “The EHL were pioneers in bringing our sport to a new level of professionalism with better tv angles, more cameras, well promoted/marketed, big crowds, etc.

“After watching it live, I dreamt about having the chance to perform against Europe’s best club teams, and most of the worlds best players, with HGC.

“It was also a chance to put my club HGC back on the map as one of the best clubs in the world. There was a rich history at our club but unfortunately, since I arrived in 1998, while we had many strong years and we had only managed to make the finals without any success.

“Many people in Holland didn’t rate us so it was nice to prove all the doubters wrong in 2011. Teams in our league were getting stronger and it was harder and harder to visualize winning the Hoofdklasse with one last season left post-EHL with HGC.”

They eased through the ROUND1 group with a 9-2 win over Ukraine’s Kolos Sekvoia before beating Pembroke 4-2 but they found the other Irish side, Glenanne, a much tougher proposition in the KO16.

They only properly killed off a 2-0 win with a Rodrigo Vila goal with two minutes to go; they were also made to sweat in the KO8 in a 4-3 win over Beeston.

“We definitely found the KO16 at Bloemendaal to be tough competition. Glenanne for sure surprised us and our team was not happy with our performance but I think that was a turning point for us.

“If we performed like this vs Beeston, OZ or Club de Campo there would not have been a EHL trophy for us at the end. Beeston was arguably the toughest game we faced in the whole tournament.

“While tested by Beeston especially, through leadership from our new coach Dirk Loots and the experienced players around us, we all were confident throughout the whole process.”

HGC had a long wait until the FINAL4 with four weeks separating their last Hoofdklasse game and their date with Oranje Zwart. Short said it did add to his anxiety, knowing it was his last season but he praises Loots for keeping the rest of the panel calm.

They duly eliminated OZ on home turf in the semi-final with two goals from Timo Kranstauber with Short netting the second in a 3-0 win.

“OZ was the biggest hurdle we had to overcome for sure. They were a strong side in our league competition with players such as [Jeroen] Delmee and [Rob] Hammond who were great leaders as well as fantastic players.

“It was Delmee’s last match so we knew they would come out ready to go. Our crowd was massive for us for sure in that win and through to the final. After beating OZ we were confident we would beat Club de Campo but were wary as we knew a lot less about them and their style of play.”

It ended in a tight 1-0 win, Kranstauber’s penalty stroke with nine minutes to go the crucial moment.

“The final was a bit of a blur but I remember never thinking we would lose that match despite the onslaught of chances they had as the match neared the end.

“It wasn’t the most exciting final for sure but it didn't matter to us at all nor to our fans. It was a great feeling to celebrate that win with such a great group of guys, a great coach, my club, and our fans. It is one I will never forget!”

It gave Short an amazing, tangible moment after years of coming close with no crowning reward.

“I was in Holland for 14 years which is a lot of hockey. Understanding leaving Holland without a single title was something that haunted me and therefore applied personally a ton of pressure.

“My coach Dirk Loots let me take his room for that night in the hotel as I was having sleep issues because of the tension and anxiety I was feeling prior to the last two matches at HGC.

“As you get older, you realize that moments like this are few and far between. In those moments, I had fear that I would let this slip this by and not be my best, or not achieve the desired result.

“When I was younger you just step on the field and play and love the moment. In my opinion, it gets much harder the longer you play!”

It came with the added bonus of landing the MVP award, his dominant performance as leader and the driver from midfield shining on the big stage, “his most cherished personal achievement”.

“I knew my career was winding down sadly so to be recognised for my play at such a late stage in my career was rewarding.”
He adds that he wished he could have shared the award with his buddy Kenny Pereira who he played side by side for almost 20 years, his wing-man at almost every turn.

“Often on the field for Canada or club I would get double-teamed and he would also be double-teamed but I would yell “help” and he would somehow pop up in some spot nearby and without seeing him I could play him the ball. He was a massive part of all my success in the sport and it was such a special moment to be hoisting the EHL trophy together that day.”