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Raiders Return: No stopping Pitchley at first Romford practice

PUBLISHED: 18:00 26 January 2018

London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley (right) celebrates with goalscorer Brandon Ayliffe against Bracknell (pic John Scott)

London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley (right) celebrates with goalscorer Brandon Ayliffe against Bracknell (pic John Scott)

Archant

London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley said nothing was going to stop him being first onto the ice for practice at the new Sapphire Leisure Centre this week.

And Pitchley, who came up through the junior ranks at Romford before the old rink in Rom Valley Way was shut down, was impressed after beating his team-mates onto the pad.

He said: “They didn’t have a choice! We didn’t go on until 7.30, but I was ready by 7.15! I’ve waited years for this and there was no way anyone was beating me on.

“Being the first on was a pretty good feeling, with the old rink meaning so much to me and where the hockey bug started for me.

“To finally be skating in Romford after five years was surreal and hats off to Havering Council and Everyone Active for putting together a world class facility in Romford.”

Raiders return to their new home to host Cardiff next Saturday, but sign off at their temporary Lee Valley base with a match against Basingstoke tomorrow ahead of a trip to Invicta.

And they go into those matches on the back of wins over Bracknell and Streatham last weekend, with Pitchley adding: “Last weekend was a great weekend of hockey from the boys. Both games we went in with a game plan, played physical and took our chances.

“Saturday was crucial to show we are still contenders. Sunday we made hard work of it, but battled all the way to the end, taking full hold of the game in the third and making our chances count.

“This weekend is going to be tough. Basingstoke are a good outfit and have some great players. We just need to stick to a physical game plan as we do against the old EPL teams and shut them down.”

n The newly-formed Romford Junior Raiders programme, run by former Raiders defenceman Ben Pitchley, has received some start-up funding.

Jack O’Donnell was an England junior team-mate of JJ Pitchley, who died after an accident in 2010, ahead of his 16th birthday.

A foundation, set up in his name, aims to give children inspiration and financial support so they can achieve their sporting potential and Pitchley said: “We will be receiving puck, mini skill nets, under-nine size goal nets and a shooter tutor, all thanks to the Jack O’Donnell Foundation.”

For more details, see jodf.org

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