Scottish internationals Duncan Riddell and David Forrester are intent on making history with Grange this weekend as they are lining up a first ever knock-out win for their country in the EHL KO16.
They take on Ireland’s Three Rock Rovers who are facing the same challenge on Saturday morning at 9.45am in what will be an intriguing game between two sides who have reasonably close connections.
In 2015, Three Rock won a Euro Trophy contest 3-2 in Dublin with the clubs forging links to run youth tournaments against each other.
Both first teams, however, have changed a lot since then. Indeed, neither Riddell nor Forrester were with the Edinburgh club back then but they cannot wait for the challenge.
For Riddell, his journey started with Watsonians then on to Grange and Grove Menzieshill while a student in Dundee. He went on to Reading in England before returning to Grange last season where he helped them win the Scottish title once again.
Since then, Frank Ryan, Cammy Fraser, Todd Mills and Greg Hopkinson have retired while Dylan Bean returned to Australia. Youngsters Ritchie McCluskey and Ralph Wiessen have moved on to university.
Coming in are Australian import Josh Mcrae and Will Shepherdson while juniors Jamie Croll, Cameron Ede and Joel Davenport are coming through and they helped the side beat Kelburne 8-0 and Watsonians 5-1 in the Scottish league.
Looking at their chances against Rovers, Riddell said: “It’s been quite a big change around this year with a lot of our older experienced players stepping down. The likes of Cammy Fraser, Frank Ryan and Todd Mills are hard players to replace.
“Having said that, the younger guys have really stepped up so far and are working hard to gain a spot in the team. We obviously had a really strong first outing against Kelburne so it’s all looking positive for now!
“I totally agree [facing Three Rock] is definitely a preferred draw for us if you look at who else is involved in the tournament. I don’t actually know too much about them but they obviously did incredibly well in last year’s EHL so they’ll be a tough nut to crack.
“They have also lost a few key players, like ourselves, but I’m sure they’ll still be a very strong outfit and expecting a really tight game.”
Goalkeeper Forrester is their marquee addition to the line-up, moving back to the country after a couple of years with CA Montrouge, culminating in the French side reaching their national final and qualifying for the EHL for the first time in several seasons.
He returns to Scotland to finally start his legal traineeship – “I had been putting it off long enough!” – but is delighted to have the French experience under his belt.
“I loved my time at Montrouge, playing and living in Paris,” Forrester told the EHL website. “I was obviously disappointed not to be able to go to the EHL with Montrouge, but it’s great to be able to go with Grange and it will be nice to see my old teammates out there.
“Hockey in France is obviously not the main sport but the setup at Montrouge was really professional. There is a lot of talent coming through the ranks in France as you can see with their national teams doing well at the moment.
“`the French league is influenced heavily by the Belgian league at the moment, which makes sense given that they share a language and a border. They like to show off their ball carrying skills and generally playing attacking hockey.”
Now the challenge is to make an impact with Grange.
“I think it’s fair to say that the club is going through a mini transition period with some older guys stopping and plenty of younger players coming through the ranks into the first team.
“The team has bedded in well so far and the young guys are stepping up to the plate. It will be exciting to see how they play on the EHL stage, I’m confident they will not disappoint.”