Express & Star

Nick Bandurak: From Cannock to Commonwealths and beyond

England hockey star Nick Bandurak has reflected on the lengthy journey he had to represent his country as he has fond memories of Cannock Hockey Club, writes Luke Powell.

Last updated

The Wolverhampton-born Commonwealth Games bronze medallist didn’t have an easy route into the national side as he juggled his job of teaching while trialling with England.

But, it’s been all worth it for Bandurak, who’s recently been part of the Great Britain squad for the Pro League and made his debut in Valencia last year, as at one point he thought his chance wouldn’t come.

He said: “It was a long time between coming out of the under-21s and getting a senior call-up.

“There were days, weeks, months where you wonder if it will ever happen and you get to a point where you fall in love with the journey of it.

Great Britain's Nick Bandurak scores their side's third goal of the game during the FIH Hockey Pro League men's match at Lee Valley

“It was a very long road, but it’s all been worth it for this past year and a half.

“It’s a dream come true.

“It was something I’ve always wanted to be a part of, so to get the opportunity to do that over the last 18 months has been an unbelievable experience and one that I’m very aware that I’m very lucky to be a part of.

“I’m just trying to make the most of every chance that I have to play, whether it’s overseas or at home in front of a home crowd.

“It really is something that doesn’t escape you, how amazing of an opportunity it is.”

Bandurak’s hockey journey started at Cannock when he was a child, and the club holds a special place in his heart and is somewhere he will always love.

Great Britain's Nick Bandurak celebrates scoring their side's third goal of the game during the FIH Hockey Pro League men's match at Lee Valley

“Cannock will always be my club and my home club,” said the 30-year-old. “I’ll never really love a club like I did with Cannock, it was everything to me.

“I started playing there when I was four and went through every junior team and every senior team right the way through to playing in the Premier League.

“It gave me that buzz for it and it’ll never ever be replaced. I have nothing but positive memories from Cannock.”

Great Britain's Nick Bandurak warms up during the FIH Hockey Pro League men's match at Lee Valley.

Bandurak was part of the England team which beat South Africa 6-3 to claim a bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The Wolverhampton-born athlete is very proud of this achievement.

“To win a medal was unbelievable and something that I’ll never forget, outside of my wedding it was the best two weeks of my life," he said. “I have nothing but amazing memories from that week on and off the pitch.

“I’m immensely proud to say we came away with a medal and it gives you a taste of what it can be like on the global stage.

“As soon as you get a taste of it, it’s a buzz and it makes you appreciate everything that it took to get to that point.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t capitalise on that as England at the World Cup, but we’ve got a great opportunity to do so at the Europeans in Germany.”