Brian is a regular fixture in the Tankards team found normally out on the wing in all weather. At 84 he is one of our most senior of players and in this interview he tells us all about his amazing hockey career from playing for Loughborough and the RAF in the 50’s to Pole Vaulting in his 60’s to playing GB hockey at 80 and much else it’s a great read and an inspiration to all of us to keep on playing!
Brian thanks for speaking to the SHC newsletter
Your interview request leaves me feeling uncertain at best as, perhaps surprisingly, I have long felt that I perform best ,as a low profile figure, best placed to turning the knobs in the background.
However I suppose a good Editor can make most interviews seem interesting enough, so here are a few observations covering the last 65 years of my life in hockey.
I must kick off by asking how close you came to scoring on Saturday- I heard you were very near to being on the scoresheet.
That goal poaching story is an ugly myth. I am perfectly clear, from my position, when striking the ball, from top left of the circle, that my shot struck the inside edge of the far post, and crossed the line unimpeded!
A nameless opportunist, may have attempted a late interception, but I am certain that the ball was already over the line, when the rumoured interference took place!
As I said, loudly, at the time of scoring, the goal was mine, and I would brook no further discussion on the matter.
So from the present back to the past now- how long have you been playing hockey? Can you tell us about your journey in the sport and with the club?
The beautiful game revealed itself to me at Loughborough in the early 1950s where I studied Civil Engineering and Geography, followed by 4yrs in the RAF plotting weather maps in ancient Shackletons over the Atlantic and North Sea. But mostly playing hockey on special leave.
On leaving the RAF IN 1959, I married and with a business partner, began a new life in Civil Engineering, joining West Herts Hockey, until Southgate created Flagons in 1982/3, whereupon I jumped ship and have played in Red/Black ever since.
Regular training has always been a personal discipline, and participating in Masters Athletics I won National O60 Pole Vault at age 63, but shoulder problems and a full knee replacement, stopped all that shortly after.
As a Founder member of England LX Masters Hockey O60 in 1995 my England Squad won the first World Cup held in Utrecht in 1998. Since then I have played for England in most World Cups and European Trophy Tournaments, at all age groups from O60 to O80, in 5 yr increments, culminating in winning the first O80 International against Netherlands in 2019.
There was also a 5yr spell as Chairman of England LX Masters Hockey Association from 2002-2007, plus more years than I care to remember ,as Pistons Fixture Secretary, until I unloaded the job onto David Wilkinson- bless him!
How have you found the past year of lockdowns and no hockey?
The past year of lockdowns saved a lot of travel expenditure, but allowed for concentrated fitness training at home, which underlined the fact that there is no substitute for proper pitch time.
You are now still playing at 84- which is an incredible achievement in itself- what do you enjoy about playing in your current team the Tankards? Any more ambitions on the pitch?
Still playing at 84 is increasingly testing, especially when playing with our present mix of incredibly skilful and athletic youngsters, whose speed and reactions are so rapid.
Matches with all players at O70, as in Masters are somewhat better paced, than with the quicksilver mob but Saturdays at Southgate are still hugely enjoyable, and until someone ,eventually murmurs quietly in my ear, about not playing all season, then I aim to keep on moving down that wing!
Outside of Hockey can you tell us a bit more about your family?
Along the way, I had time for four children, two of whom are Civil Engineers, and one of which captained Army Hockey, shortly after Sandhurst, but who is now living in Canada with a slipped disc.
Do you have a secret by which we can all learn how to continue playing hockey into our 80’s like you?
There are no secrets to impart which can offer long years of play, as far as I know: just live clean, train regularly, don’t get caught telling lies and be very very lucky!
Here endeth the lesson