Wildcats’ Sommerville keen for more with western

While life has changed significantly for Western Wildcats Gavin Sommerville, the 38-year-old is still hopeful there is more to come for him and the club in the EHL.

Sommerville produced a series of highlight-reel triple saves in the Scottish sides games against Harvestehuder THC and Club Egara at the Men’s KO16 in Hamburg last week.

It came just four weeks after he became a father to baby Cora which made the juggling of life and sport that bit trickier.

“I am 38 but, as a goalkeeper, the big thing is if I can keep committing,” he told the EHL website. As long as I can do it like I am now – with Cora coming along that might change – and feel I am playing well, I will go on as long as I can. 

“It is such a great team we have built. We had an amazing season last year, winning every competition indoor and outdoor that we played in. There is a great spirit. I would like to keep going on as long as I can.

“Overall, we were quite frustrated by the scoreline against Harvestehuder THC [9-1]. We put in a good performance but their clinical finishing was superb. It was a real lesson for us to learn. 

“Against Egara, we had a similar level of performance but managed to stay in it longer and put them under pressure. Until the last six or seven minutes, we were right in it, scored a superb goal. It has been 14 years since we played at this level and we are going to learn so much from it and have real hunger to come back and try and live with these guys.

As for his own performances, he added: “Those scrambled saves are things you prepare for. Preparation was tough as my wife and I had a wee daughter four weeks before so it has been an emotional four weeks and tough to get everything in. I feel I worked hard for it and it is nice to feel you get the rewards for it.”

Sommerville is one of the EHL originals, playing in year one with Kelburne in November 2007 along with another Western’s current crew – 39-year-old Johnny Christie. It gives him a rare insight into how the competition has changed the way the sport is played.

“It’s the best club competition in the world. Phenomenal. It has been a real pioneer for the game, things like quarters, self-pass – the EHL pioneered that and revolutionised the sport. It has given us an edge over other team sports. The speed of the game is amazing. It has moved on over the 15 years and has been key to developing hockey.”

He also paid tribute to Christie as one of Scotland’s bonafide EHL legends, not just on the field but also on the airwaves, featuring commentator Nick Irvine and EHL winners Moritz Fürste, Davey Harte and Michael Körper in his quirky and hugely entertaining Aff the Backboard podcast.

“He is a great guy to chat to and a great gift of the gab during lockdown! Johnny won 13 titles in a row with Kelburne. No one will ever do anything like that again – we are so lucky to have a man of his experience in this team. 

“He does say he is 39 going on 50! His experience showed in the two games – he doesn’t maybe have the legs he did and will be the first to admit that. But his link-up play and composure – he has played 20 times in the EHL – we are grateful to have that in the team.”

It is a key piece of experience for the Scottish club in a realm where the emigration of their brightest stars is often a payoff for their recent domestic success following a long, steady rise to the top.

“We had a big turnover of players, lost five this summer, got in two so are a bit thinner in terms of wider squad but our starting 11 is as strong as it has been. The key will be to maintain standards. 

“We really enjoy our indoor and that was the turning point for us. It has been a 10-year project finally coming to fruition but four years ago, we won an indoor title. We came straight up from the second division and won it and that gave us the belief in the group. 

“Since then, we really kicked on. It helped attract some players to the club as well for going to Europe. The main challenge is I am sure other clubs will be looking at our top players so we have to try and keep a hold of them.

“They do move on with our best wishes but I am proud we have created an environment where people want to stay, aspire and feel they can develop. We had three in the Scottish Commonwealth Games team which is phenomenal for a Scottish club when so many go abroad.”

** All games from the EHL Men’s KO16 are available to view on www.eurohockeytv.org