James aiming to be World Cup winner

James Gallacher

James Gallacher

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James Gallacher has plenty to live up to at next month’s World Cup hockey masters tournament.

The 41-year-old is heading out to Rotterdam as a member of the England Over-40s squad for the event which starts on Thursday, June 5, and ends nine days later.

And as the reigning world champions from four years ago, England will expect more glory this time around.

Leyland and Chorley Hockey club star Gallacher, who only just qualified play for his coutry over-40s team last year, is aiming to repeat the exploits of his predecessors.

“We are the current world champions, so we will be favourites in Rotterdam,” he said.

“But many of the players who won last time have moved up to the over-45s event. I think last year we lost about six players which is like nearly half a squad.

“Obviously, I was overjoyed to be called up last year and with this year being World Cup year, I am overwhelmed to be taking part.”

There will be 13 countries battling it out to be crowned world champions and England have been drawn in the same group as Ghana, Wales and Netherlands.

The other countries who will be competing are Germany, Italy, Scotland, Zimbabwe, Australia, Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa and USA.

Gallacher has been involved in the sport for 27 years – as both a player and coach.

In his pomp, he played in the National League for both Sheffield Hallam and Doncaster but was never fortunate enough to represent his country at full senior level.

He retired a few years ago, but was enticed to return to the game as a player at Leyland and Chorley Hockey Club by friend Mark Collier.

He is currently the head coach of the men’s team – a position he has held since last year.

“I have played at a good standard in the past,” he said.

“I remember on my debut in the National League for Sheffield against Richmond – I was handed the task of marking Steve Bachelor, who won a gold medal for Great Britain during 1988 Seoul Olympics! Thankfully I managed to do the team proud and we drew 1-1.”

“I played 15 years at the top level and nearly 300 games, but there’s a lot of travelling involved.

“There were 10 teams in the league and seven of them were London-based so there was a lot of travelling and weekends away. Then you had to train three times a week.

“I retired about a season-and-a-half ago but I got involved down at Leyland and Chorley through a friend.

“I’m now the head coach there.”

Next month’s Over-40s tournament takes place at the same time as the Over-45s, Over-50s, Over-55s and Over-60s events.

Indeed, the full senior World Cup is happening during the same month in The Hague, Holland.

Gallacher has already tasted success in England colours – he was a member of the England team which won the European Championships at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, last year

“That was great,” Gallacher said.

“We won five games out of five and beat the Germans on the last day 2-0.”