IT WAS one Olympic star in and one out this week for ambitious Hampstead & Westminster, who are hell bent on European qualification next season.
Dan Fox claimed a fantastic bronze in the World League semi-final at Malaysia but he is to be replaced at Paddington Rec by GB team-mate Richard Smith, and hopefully more from the Olympic set-up.
New H&W coach Tom Kavanagh admitted the Maida Vale club was tired of flirting with relegation despite making three EHL Cup finals in four years.
Instead, a tilt for the title is the plan, with selection for the Euro Cup on the back burner.
“We’ve got Richard on board, and hopefully we’ll have one or two more GB internationals whom we’re currently talking to,” he explained.
“Richard was in Belgium last season, but GB hockey want him closer to home for their Bisham Abbey training camps. So to get a quality defender softens the blow of losing Dan. The hope is the club will now step up its ambitions and make progress.”
Fox played all his top-flight hockey at the Rec, but after eight seasons has joined Holcombe in Kent because it is nearer his partner’s job.
He said: “It was a real wrench, having been there for eight years and my entire senior Premier League career, but it also feels the right time for a new challenge.
“I’ve moved house and live out of London near my partner’s work, which has been a big factor in a difficult decision.
“But with Richard and a number of other high profile players I’m confident H&W will do well.”
England and Fox beat Korea 2-1 in the third-place play-off to guarantee qualification for next year’s finals in Holland.
Defender Fox even scored against Japan in the quarter-final, and suggested a shift across the pitch may have been a factor in hitting the backboard for only the second time in 40 internationals.
“I am playing at right half more than left half, which naturally leads to more attacking play,” he said.
“I think the result in Malaysia was very promising for such a new side, with only six 2012 Olympians. But we know there’s a way to go to become one of the top three sides in the world, which continues to be our goal.”