Gibson and Alster getting in tune for maiden EHL Women campaign

As a day-one afficionado of the competition, Der Club an der Alster goalkeeper Amy Gibson reckons it’s “pretty cool” she is among the first to contest EHL Women next weekend at the Wagener Stadium.

“I’ve watched the EHL since it started and the old theme tune… we sang that a lot!” she told the EHL website.

“It’s pretty cool, having watched it for how ever many years and we’ve never seen any females at it so to be able to play in the first one and have an opportunity to win it is so cool!

“EuroHockey’s hashtag #EquallyAmazing is giving the stage for the women to be on an equal stage to the men so it is very exciting. I’m relishing the opportunity.”

Gibson moved over in 2017 and is among a growing cohort of Scottish players plying their trade in Hamburg with Tommy Alexander, Gavin Byers and Michael Bremner at city rivals UHC while Laura Swanson has joined her at Alster this term.

And she is loving life there following a lengthy spell in London as part of the GB setup, moving on to help Alster win their first ever women’s German outdoor national championship.

It is a strong line-up featuring the strong presence of Anne Schröder at the heart of things, strikers Lisa Altenburg and Hannah Gablac up front while Kira Horan and Viki Huse marshall the deefence.

Alster goalkeeper coach Jimmy Lewis – a 2004 Olympian – was key in getting her involved and it has “worked out perfectly”.

“The language is difficult but hockey is the same language everywhere. My German on the pitch is better than my German off it! We play a really attacking style which I enjoy and we have been really successful with the players we have.

“The group had been together a long time when I joined to take it to the next level. The year before they got to the final four and lost in the semis and then we won the year I arrived and the following year. So it was great to arrive and help them to their first title outdoors.

“I think Scottish and German people do gel well! Maybe the Scottish people are like a breath of fresh air for them; we are all pretty happy to be at training and bring quite a bit of energy. It does work well for the team!”

She has played a key role, earning the Most Entertaining Goalkeeper title from the German indoor championships among her accolades.

And the team’s bond also brought some success in their first European campaign in 2019 when they took bronze in the European Club Cup. Gibson say there is so much to take from that competition, particularly for the club’s youngsters in their first taste of that kind of competition.

“Last time in the Club Cup, we played a Spanish team [Real Socieded] in the semi-final and didn’t have our best game. A lot of our club players had probably never played a competition like that, facing a non-German team and on an unfamiliar pitch.

“We learned a lot and take a lot of experience from that. We want to put right what we did wrong there.

“In the third/fourth playoff, we beat Den Bosch which was a huge win for us and for Germany in general. They don’t often win against Dutch sides. That was massive to beat them for our confidence and hopefully we can achieve slightly better than third this time.

“There’s a determination there. After we lost to the Spanish side, we said ‘we’re not going home without a medal’. You probably saw that at the Rio Olympics when the German team won the bronze medal.

“We wanted to go out with a bang and win our last match. There’s massive determination and against Den Bosch – the most decorated European club in women’s history – it was a collective effort to win that bronze.”

This time around, they have another Spanish opponent in Madrid’s Club de Campo. The two clubs preparations are vastly different with Alster only back on the field in the past fortnight – albeit winning three games in succession – while Campo have played seven times in 2021.

But Gibson says the focus has been designed to peak specifically for this EHL weekend.

“Our preparation has been a wee bit disjointed because of the weather and a frozen pitch in Hamburg.

“But everyone has known about it for a good few months and it was a goal for the season to be ready for the EHL. Even though we only have three games before it and the Spanish team has been going a lot longer, we know it is what we have been preparing for so we will be ready.”