South-West youngsters receive England Under-18s call-up...

ASHMOOR’S Sam Taylor and University of Exeter player Tom Stevenson have both been named in the England under-18 hockey squad for the European Championships later this year.

Midfielder Stevenson was talent-spotted at 16, through the Futures Cup series, and made it into the age-group England squad then. His home club is Taunton Vale.

Half-back Taylor has been on the fringe of the England set-up for a couple of years without getting in a squad.

He missed out on selection at under-16 level but went back for another go this season and has now been selected for the under-18 squad a year early.

Taylor is studying a sports course at South Dartmoor College in Ashburton, run in association with the Chelsea Football Academy.

Both youngsters have a gruelling schedule of squad training and matches ahead of them in readiness for the European Championships in Santander, Spain in mid-July.

Warm-up training camps start in April with a two-dayer that will include a game against Holland.

Further camps have been fixed with matches against Wales and Belgium leading up to the tournament.

Taylor is going to have a hectic summer as he is also a county standard cricketer, good enough to captain Devon under-16s last season.

“Luckily, Sam will only miss a couple of Devon games as the fixtures don’t clash too often,” said dad, Mark.

Meanwhile an Ashmoor ‘old boy’ is off to Australia next month to play for Wales in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Midfielder Alf Dinnie started out at Ashmoor as a teenager and still plays for the club in indoor competitions.

The 23-year-old’s Saturday hockey commitment is with National League side Cardiff & Met.

Wales first selected Dinnie at under-16 level and he has since represented the country at under-18 and under-21 level.

He made his full Wales debut against France last year and was also a member of the squad that won silver at last year’s European Championships in Glasgow.

Dinnie, who now has 16 caps, claimed his first international goal in the 4-3 win over Austria last July.

Wales qualified for the Commonwealth Games thanks to their performance in the European Championships, which moved them into the top-ten rankings.

Only the best ten countries are eligible for the Commonwealth Games and Wales have been pooled with England, India, Malaysia and Pakistan.

Matches take place between April 5-15 at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre.


This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.