ODIHAM hockey star Alex Danson is hoping England’s women’s hockey team can bounce back from World Cup woe to give skipper Kate Richardson-Walsh a memorable send-off at Glasgow 2014.
Richardson-Walsh intends to retire after competing in her fourth Commonwealth Games and Danson predicts her teammates will be fired up to make it a memorable swansong.
England had a miserable World Cup in The Hague, finishing 11th out of 12.
However, 29-year-old Danson has warned against writing them off in Glasgow, where their campaign starts today (11am) with a game against Wales.
“It’s been hard but we hit the ground very quickly when we got back from the World Cup to give us the best opportunity here,” said forward Danson.
“Kate retiring will be a huge, huge loss to us but, at the same time, if we play with that in our minds it will give us an edge.”
Defender Richardson-Walsh has clearly been a hugely influential figure in Danson’s career and she will now assume more responsibility in guiding the next generation of players going forward, with England due to host the European Championships next year.
Danson added: “Kate brings not just a huge amount of experience but she’s also extremely thoughtful, kind and commanding and always gives 100 per cent. That’s vital for a captain and leader.
“I have hugely enjoyed my career with Kate. She’s always been someone I’ve looked up to. She’s taught me so much.”
Danson enters her third Commonwealth Games having won a bronze medal in both 2006 and 2010.
England have been drawn in Pool B of the competition along with Wales, Malaysia, Australia and Scotland, while Pool A is made of South Africa, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, India and Canada.
After today’s opening match with Wales, England are next in action on Sunday (11am) when they take on Malaysia, who they beat 3-0 in the Commonwealth Games four years ago.
On Monday, Danson and her teammates face their toughest group game as they come up against Australia, who are ranked second in the world, and it all starts at 2pm.
The final group game is on Wednesday morning at 9am, when their opponents are hosts Scotland.
A top-two finish in the group will book England a place in the semi-finals, which take place a week on Friday.