Sophie Bray was today awarded the prestigious UK Hockey Player of the Year Award for 2019 as voted by the Hockey Writers Club. Bray becomes the fifth East Grinstead Player to win the award whilst representing the club and the first female player to do so. The Hockey Writers Club was founded in 1972 and today consists of a group of writers, photographers, broadcasters and digital content masters whose objective is to promote hockey.
Sophie joins a list of highly distinguished former East Grinstead Players to win the award during their time at the cub:
1984 Richard Leman (Seoul 1988 Olympic Gold)
1986 Ian Taylor (Seoul 1988 Olympic Gold)
2011 Mark Pearn (European Championships Bronze 2011)
2012 Barry Middleton (European Championships Gold 2009)
2014 Iain Lewers (European Championships Bronze 2011)
2019 Sophie Bray (European Championships Gold 2015 and Rio 2016 Olympic Gold)
Ashley Jackson was also named Hockey Writers' Club Player of the Year 2009 while away from East Grinstead in the Dutch Premier League with HGC.
Always number 19, Sophie's International achievements are many and varied, and also well known. However her impact and contribution to East Grinstead Hockey Club deserves equal recognition.
Sophie joined EG shortly after her first World Cub for England (summer 2014) and ready for the 2014/2015 Season). She was instrumental in a team that secured promotion to the Premier League from the Eastern Conference including a stunning hat-trick in the playoffs at Lee Valley against Slough on April 18th 2015. The promotion marked the end of a 10 year journey for our Ladies' 1st Team to reach that standard, after 8 promotions in those 10 years. Sophie was top scorer in the Eastern Conference that season and also collected the Eastern Conference Player of the Year Award.
The 2015/2016 Season was East Grinstead Ladies' first in the Premier League but for Sophie (and EG team-mate Laura Unsworth) it was to prove an important season for international reasons. They returned to club duty having secured European Gold in August 2015 at Lee Valley and followed that up with the small matter of Olympic Gold at Rio in August 2016. Following Rio, we said "au revoir" to Sophie for two seasons while she embarked on a professional club career with Dutch giants Kampong where she again starred in the goal scoring stakes; no mean feat in the toughest league in the world.
Sophie returned to EG last season (2018 / 2019), and was awarded the Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division Player of the Season, as well as winning Player of the Tournament at the 2019 Indoor Super 6s Finals at Copper Box Arena where our girls won the title for the second time in 4 years.
Sophie currently sits top of the Women's Premier League Outdoor goalscoring charts this season with 16 from 13 matches and second in the National Indoor Premier League scoring with 14 goals in 8 matches.
Sophie is a leader, a team player, a phenomenally talented sports woman and hockey has benefited from her choice to play our game. Her commitment, professionalism and vision are evident both on and off the pitch. She commands respect from all she comes into contact with and has brought her high standards of performance and behaviour to our Club. Her determination, knowledge and passion enable those around her to improve their own performance. She embraces and values players of all ages; her engaging smiles and quiet words of encouragement are valued by her team mates, volunteers and supporters alike. We are fortunate she chose East Grinstead and are proud to have her as Captain for both our Indoor and Outdoor squads.
Rod Gilmour of the Hockey Writers' Club commented "Sophie was chosen by members for her outstanding form for her club as the club goes from strength to strength. She is undoubtedly still one of the best players in world hockey and despite her international retirement she continues to showcase her brilliant skill in the English domestic game.2019 was exceptional for Sophie and she is a standout winner"
Congratulations to our number 19 for becoming the 2019 Hockey Writers player of the year !