The Voice Speaks: Nick Irvine looks forward to our Easter Hockey Carnival in Eindhoven

©: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics



Six days of Easter Hockey Carnival Fun at Oranje Rood! - The Voice of the EHL Nick Irvine looks forward to the KO16/FINAL4 which start on Wednesday, April 17 and runs until Monday, April 22

Order, Order! Well I hope that you will Order YOUR tickets and very soon now otherwise you will crash out without a deal!

Yes, its almost time for Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs and, of course, the EHL at the home of Oranje Rood in Eindhoven. Six action-packed days of top club hockey with plenty of stars to shine, and packed terraces to celebrate all that is good about the sport here in the cradle of the sport, in Europe.

Even with the huge amount of hockey currently available to watch either on your screens or live around the globe I have every confidence that the wonderful EHL supporters will be out in numbers again to write a new chapter in EHL history as we combine the KO16 with the FINAL4 and the GRAND FINAL when we crown our Champion.

The change in schedule was somewhat forced upon us by the advent of the Pro League juggernaut but, ever adaptable, the EHL will endeavour to turn that to advantage and, with the help of our leading players and our wonderful fans, that is exactly what we will do.

Next year will be different again when we will see the women joining the EHL party as they showcase what we have always known; that they are indeed Equally Amazing! But that is for next year and who knows what else might have changed in this crazy world!

For now, though, we have six days to savour, 20 matches in all! That will test your stamina and mine in the commentary box where I will once again be joined by Simon Mason the former England and GB ‘keeper who will share his knowledge with us. I know that ‘crash ball’ counters will again be going berserk!

Hard to pick a stand-out game amongst the KO16 as, frankly, they all look tasty affairs. On day 1 (Wednesday), the hosts Oranje Rood face Uhlenhorst Mulheim in the evening game which will keep us all on the edge of our seats.

Earlier not one, not two but Three Rock Rovers face the Dragons who have a new look squad on show and may not be the fire-breathing force they once were. I have a golden rule – never bet against an Irish team so there might be an upset in the air!

On day 2 (Thursday) we have another full four-match day and another golden rule - which states that whenever Kampong and Rot Weiss Koln are in the same draw they must be drawn to play each other!

That, at least, is how it seems. I feel sorry for the two clubs but not for the tournament or we fans because these two always bring the best out of each other.

St Germain against Club Egara – in the battle of the striped shirts - will be a passionate affair and another which could go either way. Who fancies a stripey shoot-out? Do not adjust your sets!

The Friday will see the KO16 vanquished playing off for ranking positions which this year have more importance placed on them as next year we reduce the pool down to 20 teams with the KO16 in October looking to qualify just four teams! That will be brutal stuff.

Then on Saturday we start a three-day test which sees KO8, followed by the semis on Sunday and the medal games on schedule on Easter Monday. Our athletes are incredible to even begin to contemplate that and we applaud them.

And I applaud you. For supporting this event throughout its 12-year history. You and the players and officials have made it what it is. The Best Club Hockey tournament in the World.

Next year will be different - but in a good way. A chance again to demonstrate that hockey belongs to everybody and that we are all, whatever our standing in the game, Equally Amazing!

Enjoy the hockey - I certainly intend to.