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Fury ace France faces world elite

PUBLISHED: 15:30 16 June 2012

Romford's Matt France on international duty for Great Britain at the World Inline Championships

Romford's Matt France on international duty for Great Britain at the World Inline Championships

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Defenceman stars for GB Inline squad

Romford Fury’s Matt France helped Great Britain pull off a major shock at the World Inline Championships in Germany last week.

Defenceman France and his teammates beat eventual bronze medalists Finland in Ingolstadt, for their first-ever elite division victory.

But six games in seven days eventually took their toll on the amateur squad, who were relegated back to Division One.

France, one of four southern-based players in the GB squad, said: “We flew out and met the northern lads at Munich airport, then got a coach to our hotel.

“Our first game against the Czech Republic was always going to be an eye-opener. We didn’t know where we’d stand.”

Britain gave their illustrious opponents a shock before slipping to a 5-4 defeat in overtime, but were then well beaten by Sweden before their shock 2-1 success against the Finns.

France added: “We were winning 4-3 against the Czech Republic, who were world champions the year before.

“Ales Hemsky (Edmonton Oilers) joined them for the quarter-finals and his dad was the coach! Every team had an NHL player and all played top level.

“The Sweden game brought us crashing back to earth. We realised how hard it was going to be if we didn’t stick to our game plan and concentrate.”

After falling behind against Finland, the British squad drew level through Alex Pearman and took the lead on a Simon Hughes goal.

And despite being outshot 50-16, the heroics of Tanner ensured victory.

France said: “It was massive to beat Finland for our first top pool win.

“It was a perfect game. We all did what we had to do and James was phenomenal, saving 49 out of 50 shots.”

It was downhill all the way after that, though, as defeats against Canada and the United States left the Brits to face a relegation play-off against the Swedes.

“We thought we had a chance against Canada, but we didn’t play well,” said France.

“You have to concentrate the whole time or you get punished if one of you isn’t doing your job.

“We all trained hard for it and the first three games we played our best.

“The score in the last game against Sweden (7-2) didn’t really reflect the game.

“We gave them a game, but every player on their team can score.”

Despite being relegated at the end of the tournament, France said the memory of the week will live long in his memory as he returned to his day job as a pipe-fitter.

He added: “It was a good experience and showed you what it takes to compete against the best in the world.

“The tournament was amazing. The final was a 4,750 sell-out and the fans were mental!

“It was nice to be treated like professionals as well. We had a kit man to do our washing and hang all our kit up, a physio and two coaches and a host to take us shopping.

“Our dinners were all cooked for us as well!”

Tanner is set to join Fury for the new National Ice Hockey League season later this year.

The club hold their first trial of the summer at Rom Valley Way on Wednesday (June 20).

Players will be on ice at 10:30pm and there is a £10 charge for those interested.

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