Lille’s lockwood hoping to toast EHL success

Viktor Lockwood is hoping to make a special toast to EHL success on Friday with a bottle of his family-owned champagne should Lille break new ground in the world’s best club competition.

The French club are back in the EHL after 11 years away and have a huge task ahead of them against AH&BC Amsterdam in the opening fixture of the EHL weekend in Hamburg (12.15 CET). 

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This will be their third campaign having finished as runners-up in the French championship last year to CA Montrouge, an opponent who ultimately paved their way to a second EHL ticket with two outstanding performances in the Euro Hockey Trophy competitions last term.

“When we lost the final last season, we thought we would be going to the Trophy again but we were pleasantly surprised to get the EHL spot instead!” Lockwood said.

“Montrouge worked very well last year with the hard work of Aymeric Bergamo to win the Euro Trophies.”

Nonetheless, it marked a strong return for the side who had not reached the playoffs in several years and a strong justification for Lockwoo’s return to the club after a long stint in Belgium.

“The club rang me two years ago with their plans under new coach Carlos Castaño and with some internationals like Theo Ponthieu, Corentin Saunier and Diego Paz from Argentina in the side. 

“It was not my childhood club but my last one in France before I moved to Belgium and the one where I won my first French title. For six or seven years, I have been travelling between Lille and Belgium to play hockey. 

“It was usually 12 hours of driving [a week] and it was exhausting and so, for Paris 2024, I want to have the best possible preparation for that event.”

He is also hopeful the French league can improve its level in time for the Olympics to provide a shop-window for more people to take up the sport and ensure a longer-term benefit for the game.

Vickor Lockwood in action for Lille against Lisnagarvey in 2012. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

The national team has been making huge strides in the last year but – with many players plying their trade in Belgium – the club sides have not yet made quite as much impact on the EHL stage.

“With the national team for the past few years, we have grown up. We are beginning to beat the top five in the world more consistently. We beat India, drew with the Dutch – for our group, this was the first time and so we are more confident for sure. But for the club scene in France, we haven’t had this kind of result at this level.”

And so while they might have preferred facing a slightly lower-ranked opponent in the KO16, Lockwood is sure his club will take some of that belief into their date with Amsterdam.

“For sure, we would have preferred to have something like an irish team like Montrouge but it is exciting to play Amsterdam, against these kind of players. For us, it is a very good experience because only two or three of us have played in the EHL before. 

“We know they are better than us but we will give everything and a game is never finished before it starts. We will do everything to try and beat them!”

And if they do, it would give plenty of reason to try and seek out a bottle of bubbles.

“We created this brand three years ago. It is a family affair – its called Nat’s, the name of my grandfather and father. Of course, we made it to celebrate our hockey victories! I hope we can open a bottle on Friday night!”


EHL Men’s KO16 will be available for broadcast across the globe from September 29 to October 2, 2022 via the following outlets