First involvement started in October 2008 when our eldest daughter started with the club playing in the under 16’s. Within a couple of months the then junior coaches Tracy Webb, Sandra and Neil Vidler had conned me into ‘assisting’ with the mini’s. This involved standing in the many huge spaces during the end of session matches whilst holding a stick, this was an entirely new experience as I’d never once held a ‘real’ hockey stick at any point in my life before then. It also meant I had to stop wearing sandals down to the pitch! Somehow I’ve continued ‘assisting’ the juniors most Saturdays and more recently Wednesdays since then.
My playing almost started the same year, Crawford Foster used to coach the teenagers on a Saturday and at the end of one session close to Christmas asked if I fancied a game as he was leaving the pitch. I assumed he was joking but soon found out he wasn’t. The following Saturday arrived, junior training passed in a blur and I was wandering around the stalls of Portsmouth Dockyard Victorian Xmas watching the match time approach. The 1898’s were away to CoP at the University ground. The time came for me to abandon Julie and head to the pitch, agreeing to pick her up after the game before heading home. It was a closely contested game which CoP squeezed a 2 – 0 win out of in the pouring rain. When I found Julie in Gunwharf later I remember the question ‘How was the game’? Hmm, close, wet and we lost 2 – 0, ‘yes OK but how did you do?’ Ah, I didn’t get on the pitch as it was such a tight game and wasn’t sure how I’d get on ☺. Never mind, I made my debut in 2009 and haven’t looked back since – of course I have as the photo’s are hilarious!
In 2011 I took on the kit manager role, managed to secure sponsorship for the newly established Ladies 2’s along the way along with the usual trials and tribulations of new suppliers etc. Thankfully the current relationship with Kate at Print and Sew seems to be a perfect match and easy for players and parents alike to get the kit they need. I handed this role over at the end of the 2017/ 18 season but currently still have a few pairs of socks, mostly juniors, if yours are getting thread-bare.
At the start of the 2013/14 season I took on the role of 1898’s captain (for all you millennials out there this was before the club used Pitchero and WhatsApp wasn’t even thought of as a tool to coordinate availability responses).
Towards the end of the 2013/14 season I was asked if I’d take on the 2’s as a stabilising influence, not sure how that was meant but judging by our relegations since then I guess an anchor can stabilise a ship, clearly this one was too heavy!
During my playing time I’ve played at the Olympic Park as part of the England Hockey mixed tournament, been to the veterans festival at Sevenoaks several times (and planning to return for the Sunday this year), played mixed summer games and all the usual league and cup games.
It’s been great seeing youngsters develop and go from the small dots at mini-fests to playing on the same team in either a mixed or men’s league game. I’ve always loved sport and think it’s a great opportunity for individuals to express themselves away from the shackles of daily routines and as me and a few others prove, it doesn’t have to stop when the wrinkles appear. Never be afraid to have a go, you won’t make a fool of yourself if you do but you’d be foolish not to try it! If nothing else you’ll get votes at the post-match social and may even get to wear the hat!