RELATIVELY SPEAKING – “THE SOUTHGATE BATCHELOR(S)”

March 30, 2021

Steve Bachelor is one of Southgate’s legendary players. Now a coach and teacher at Cranleigh school this week Steve is joined by son Tom and daughter in law Lucy to reflect on a life filled with family, hockey, 3 olympic games and a gold medal.

Steve- can you tell us how you began your association with Southgate Hockey Club?

Many years ago I think around 1979 I was at that rival club of the time Hounslow. Ian McGinn U21 coach and Southgate through and through asked Myself, Sean Kerly and Mike Spray to join a very elite group of 1st team players, many already playing or had played for England and Great Britain over a number of years. 

What was it like putting your Southgate Shirt on for the first time ?

Nervous- I was so nervous but at the same time it was strangely like putting on an England shirt on for the first time- this party due to Southgate prestigious history as a club along with the players I was going to take to the pitch with for the very first time  

What do you recall of the atmosphere at the club like back in the 80’s?

I think Southgate is still one of the few clubs in the Country where the atmosphere has changed very little since the 80’s . In those days we had all the teams finishing’s matches at the same time along with Southgate away teams on the day still ending up back at the club house!! This made for a real club family feel every weekend and a full clubhouse.  

What I do remember which seemed to be the norm all those years ago was the traditional jug of beer tended to be Jugs of G&T back in the day (along with the beer of course 😊).

The times I have been back to watch and support either Tom or Lucy (or both in the Mixed Club competitions) at this special club show that it still has a very similar feel about it. 

(Although a different club house now from those days at the Walker ground, Waterfall Road. Very fond memories)

You played in no less than 3 Olympics for Great Britain and won a gold medal at Seoul in 1988- how vividly do you still remember your time as an Olympian?

The memories never really leave you. All three Games for me were very special for different reasons. LA and winning a bronze out of no where with very little preparation- well that was an experience.

Gold in Seoul. Obviously the pinnacle for any Olympian in any sport. To stand on top of an Olympic rostrum with your team mates next to you, the National Anthem blaring out is something quite special. 

Then Barcelona equally special with a new and younger squad but even though we did not end up in a medal position you can still soak up the atmosphere on the pitch and off the pitch in the Olympic village.

How much are you still in contact with your team mates both GB and Southgate?

Not as much as I would have liked. Obviously my Olympic mates- we all keep in contact with where possible with my closest friend being Sean Kerly friend from 17 years old and Rob Clift. Other Southgate players I still see from time to time are Richard Dodds and John Shaw. 

BUT if any one reading this article wants to get in contact it would be great to meet back at Southgate, Possibly for another G&T evening.

There is an iconic photo of you punching the air from the final I think- can you give us a bit more context to what led to that (great) photo?

Well- that’s a very good question. This photo I think has been used, many years ago now,  for so many adverts, books and publications over the years. It really looks like I scored the third goal and single handily won the Gold medal for GB 😊 Not true. 

The truth of the matter is I had beaten my defender run to the edge of the Circle and passed the ball where David Vincent That most famous Southgate coach and my mentor in so many ways had told me on too many occasions on the training pitch at Southgate to beat my player and pass that ball onto the Penalty spot (usually to find Sean Kerly) and a goal port unity might just be there. 

Stephen Batchelor of Great Britain celebrates after defeating Germany 3-1 in the Men’s Field Hockey final at the XXIV Summer Olympic Games on 1st October 1988 at the Seongnam Stadium, Seongn in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Getty Images)

On this occasion Imran had made a run from the half way line and all he had to do was JUST put the ball into an open net😊.  We scored I ran to the bench to celebrate – you can see Imran trying to chase me. This was followed by me going down onto my knees in front of the Coach David Whittaker and Manager Roger Self. Roger just looked at me and said get up Batchelor we haven’t finished the match yet. I thought it was all over.

 I hope this puts the record straight for all  

Tom and Lucy both are following in your footsteps and are forging successful hockey careers- how hands on have you been in their development as players?

Lucy and Tom both met at Durham and I guess pretty close to a hockey pitch if not at the bar!! Yes, Tom played from a very young age playing for England U16 and 18’s. All my children have played or are still playing so I think it was just in the family genes. Have I been hands on with them? Not really- a Taxi service, advice and support along the way but in reality it has got to be within themselves to want to play the game.

Tom/Lucy can you tell us a bit about how you came back to Southgate and your current relationship with the club- which team you are playing for etc?

We have been back playing at the club for the past four seasons – Lucy played at Southgate as a junior and after we moved to North London after Uni, coming back to her childhood club was the obvious choice. Tom shortly followed and was soon in the red and black, currently playing for the Mens 2s. Lucy is the former Ladies 1s captain and is taking a break as she is on maternity leave having recently given birth to Baby Fred – already on Liz’s waiting list for the junior section!

Tom/Lucy have you watched back any of your Dad/Steve’s matches? 

We have definitely watched the 1988 Olympic Final a few times where he won Gold – the club gets a little name drop on the commentary ‘Batchelor of Southgate’ ! 

Steve you are you now at Cranleigh school- and used to play a key role in the hockey coaching. What are the key tenets you try and impart on young players?

I still run my own SJB Hockey Academy based at Cranleigh but yes- I have helped the junior players at school for many years having quite a few national success which Tom was part of on a few occasions. What  I try and do to impart my knowledge to the future hockey players whether beginners or experienced is really quite simple:

Do the basics well, work hard on and off the field and most importantly enjoy and have fun with a sport you love so much – success will follow 😊

Steve- how has hockey changed since your days at the top of the game? Do you miss anything about the way the game was played and what are your hopes for the game moving forwards?

  • Grass hockey
  • Bully off to start a game
  • Push in from the side of pitch
  • long and short corners using hands to stop the ball before the strike
  • Obstruction( what is that now)
  • Lifting the ball- not allowed
  • Feet
  • Short corners the ball could be hit in the goal anywhere top/ middle/ Bottom !!! Scary
  • Substitutions once off that was your game over

…The list probably goes on!

Change:

  • The speed in which it is played/ movement/ 3D skills /reversers stick use/Kit played in

My hope for the future would be for Hockey to continue as a family sport that whatever level or age we are can all continue to play and have fun       

Tom/Lucy what are your hockey ambitions and what do you in your non hockey lives?

Our ambition aren’t quite Steve’s level! We both played representative hockey in our younger years but hockey for us now is about enjoyment and spending time with friends – a couple of beers and a pink gin or two on a Saturday! Tom is looking forward to another good season with the Mens 2s, while Lucy plans to spend the rest of this year getting back to fitness with a return to hockey planned for the future! Our non hockey lives is now largely centred around learning how to be new parents!

Finally how have you all found the last few months of lockdown and what are you looking forward to as we begin to return pitch side?

Yes !!! I think we all looking forward to getting back on the pitch even if we still have a few restrictions to deal with. Seeing both girls and boys adults and vets (like myself) training , playing and socialising again. Hopefully this will make us all feel we are getting back to normality

Bring it on 😊

Southgate Hockey Club. Great fun, great hockey, great facilities.