For many reading this Warwick Hoyle needs no introduction, for others anyone stood by the ‘Warwick Gate’ leading down to the Water Pitch should know that the gate is given its name by a real club legend and great friend to many still playing at SHC. Warwick sadly passed away a few years ago, but he is still remembered by so many- fortunately he left us some rather wonderful prose…
One of the many jobs Warwick took on was as editor of the then club magazine which was a fully printed monthly must read for some years and I had been looking at finding something to share in our club 100 section. Of course our man of club letters Keith Lewis was ahead of me and wrote in with the following submission a few weeks back which showcases Warwick unique style and verve rather wonderfully.
I suggest the below is best enjoyed with a glass of wine, a brandy or indeed a BOVER BOOT (all is revealed below). I have copied it verbatim from the 1983 magazine and will let it speak wholly for itself- before that let me hand over to Keith for a quick introduction,
It’s me again, this time with an offering written by our dear friend Warwick. This appeared in the SHC Magazine that was produced for the 1983 European Cup in The Hague. For me this is a typical contribution by Warwick who had an ability to write in a slightly off beat, clever way and with slight adjustments to people’s names.
Keith Lewis, May 2021
by Warwick Hoyle
“Touring is a great privilege. Even when the weather goes against you as it did for the 1977 Lions in New Zealand, or up on the High Veld where rugby at altitude makes you feel as if you are trying to gulp your way out of a hot oven, you have to remind yourself of one basic self imposed Law ….
. . . . that it is a privilege to be travelling in someone else’s country. Understand their outlook on life and you wi1l enjoy yourself. Put your likes and dislikes on to your host and you will be a burden for them. Having said that in all sincerity, I will not tell- you that the ’68 Lions were the greatest pranksters I have ever seen. It was almost expected of rugby players in those days that they would retreat to the dormitory days of their youth, sing bawdy songs and drink pints of beer’.
The hockey world is not without its characters and what better catalyst than a continental tour to provoke the talent of the practical joker. I have always found the Germans stern opposition on and off the field but I have detected on more than one occasion a trait of Tutonic character which can often be used to advantage. I have yet to find a German who can laugh convincingly at himself. Now it is a fundamental rule that the overseas tourer should in no way adopt a dismissive, arrogant, insulting or frivolous manner especially in German company. I recall a quite deplorable incident in Frankfurt at the European Championships when a young Englishman, in the face of some uniformed resistance, attempted certain boundary adjustments with a pitch line marker so that his team might gain advantage near their opponents goal.
No, if the practical joke is to be employed, advance consideration must be given to the consequences and effects. It has also been suggested more than once that it is very often preferable and, depending of course on the style and character of the prank, even essential that the perpetrator should remain undetected.
Some years ago I recall the excitement of being invited to play in France for the Bulldogs a Pedigree English touring side not noted for the absence of characters amongst its ranks. One of its outstanding players both on and off the turf was the mischievous defender J.T. Doddmott. Not unnaturally Doddmott was known to his team mates as “J.T.’ I have often wondered whether this appalling oversight by his parents at the Christening contributed in some way to one of his most engaging qualities, a sense of fun almost without equal in the hockey world. It had been a remarkably calm crossing from Dover and as we set off from Boulogne to the ground at La Grenouille in our convoy of Bentley, Triumph Roadster, Armstrong Sidley and convertible Morris Minor, the intoxicating atmosphere of rolling France unfolded before us. The drive was uneventful except for a constant stream of cursing from our goalkeeper Thomas Jones who soon discovered that the dickey seat in out Triumph Roadster was not specifically designed for the preparation and consumption of roll your own cigarettes – not at least that is at speeds of 80 miles per hour. So after a sharpener or two from my touring hip flask and the occasional hedgerow inspection we arrived.
An idyllic setting, three pitches equidistant from a centralised refreshment tent and ablution area. I will not refer in detail to the hockey except to say it was a six national tournament with the Bulldogs alone representing England. Our aim was simply ambassadorial enjoyment and if we won the odd game even better. Who then was more surprised than I to discover that in spite of, I might almost suggest, a professional attitude in the refreshment tent culminating in a vicious descantile and amended rendering of Le Pont D’Avignon as the staff finally refused “une autre vite biere mon cher ami” and dawn began to stir, we were to meet the temperamental French champions, Les Hoppers, in the semi finals .
Had I the time I should perhaps recall a certain unfortunate incident which resulted in two Frenchmen leaving the field with the score level at two goals each and ten minutes remaining. Suffice to say that our left half that afternoon was the redoubtable Dick Doomey a pugnacious left half, an asset to any defence with an armoury of defensive ploys and tactics probably unequal to this day.
May we leave it here save to say that not only did he speak fluent French and enjoyed a spell at R.A.D.A. but Doomey was an acknowledged master of the disguised knee high cutter. Containing a furious French assault in our circle Doomey single handed cut a swathe through the garlic laden attack culminating in an enormous knee cracking clearance from our goat line. “Le cannon” snarled Doomey as the two Frenchmen were carried from the playing surface.
A match winning goal, coming from a lightening free hit helped by the spare hockey ball Doddmott always carried in his left pocket sealed Les Hoppers fate and we had scored a memorable victory. The final was to take place on Monday morning between the Bulldogs and the dour Bavarian champions Das Hunneys, a disciplined and serious team captained by the awesome Rufus Ringbinder whose short corner power had led to a serious shortage of beds at the local hospital. In their passage to the final Das Hunneys were undefeated in six games amassing a total of 87 goals for, 3 against. 85 goals were from short corners. Not unnaturally the Germans practised these set pieces every morning from 9 o’clock until l0.30 with Ringbinder methodically thumping ball after ball with his 1.3 kg. Black Forest Oak leather handled hockey stick. Personally I can think of nothing more boring, Let alone inconvenient than to attend these humourless sessions watching the relentless Ringbinder pepper the specially reinforced practise goal Das Hunneys always carried with them on tour. For some obscure Tutonic reason a dummy goalkeeper was employed to add a touch of macabre realism to the proceedings. The dummy, Manfred, was suspended from the crossbar like some hapless puppet and could be made to move left and right by a pulley system controlled from behind the steal goal netting. As the ball was pushed out to the unfortunate hand-stopper Manfred began to twitch and wobble as if preparing for his fate.
In charged Ringbinder, he always stepped back six paces from the stopper, stick flaying like a Sikorsky rotor blade, a clean hand stop, crash, the ball hurtled towards its target, wallop, the ball struck the luckless Manfred a riveting blow to the temple removing the entire cranial section of his head some 30 yards behind the goal posts. “Blitzkrieg” yelled Ringbinder “we are ready for the Bulldogs.”
None of this had escaped the notice of the impish Doddmott who had been requested by his captain to neutralise Ringbinder at all costs. It was felt essential to the cause of Anglo German relations that no blame whatsoever should accrue to the Bulldogs for any misfortune that might befall Rufus Ringbinder. For this reason it was decided that it would be vastly preferable for Ringbinder not to take to the field of play at all during the final, lest some accident occurring to him during the match might give an unwelcome impression or lead to misfounded allegation; quite apart from this old Tom Jones our goalkeeper was prone to bouts of double vision on overseas tours which might not be aided by cranial rearrangement . Doddmott considered the options. An alcoholic assault with that ultimate of skull crackers, the Siderwinder Soda Fizz, but surely Ringbinder would not be fooled by this? Bribe the hotel chef to slip some arse rattling additive into his sausage pie? No this could have repercussions in other directions and anyway experience shows that it is unwise to entrust French chefs with favours of this type. Dress every Bulldog in goal-keeper attire and take to the field in the final with heads swathed in bandages crying “Don”t lose your heads chaps”. No this would be wasted on the German mind and could provoke unpleasant retaliation. “Got it said, Doddmott. “The chemical closet”. It was a well known fact that on tours outside Germany, Rufus Ringbinder would carry with him, on top of his special-1y strengthened Volkswagen Caravanette a portable chemicaL closet known as Der Schizenhauser”. What was not so widely known was that Ringbinder would spend 27 minutes every morning inside the closet. It would be wrong of me to speculate exactly how he occupied his time inside for almost half an hour, but I can reveal he would always light his pipe and would carry with him into the machine his morning newspaper. Finally, it is relevant to understand that before locking himself in, Rufus would empty a tin of disinfectant cleansing fluid into the very heart of the facility. What then might be the consequence and effect of substituting the cleansing fluid with an inflammable liquid with, for example, a petroleum base?
At the very least mused Doddmott it might stimulate a reaction inconsistent with his surname. Late that night a stealthy sidestepping Doddmott, head encased in a balaclava, approached the Caravette. It was evident from the vehicles creaking suspension and the farmyard noises coming from within that Ringbinder would not disrupt the plot. In a flash the closet door was unfastened, the “cocktail” substituted for the cleansing fluid and the gallant J.T., crepe soles moving with great confidence now, beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the refreshment tent. “Don’t worry Jonesey, no appointments at the the plastic surgeon for you tomorrow” Doddmott assured our apprehensive goal – keeper.
To maintain their touring image it was not unknown for the Bulldogs to include in their squad a ‘man of the cloth’. On this occasion Father Harry George Evans a delicate left winger, “Ghosty” to his friends, fulfilled. the post. I never asked whether the nickname was derived from his initials or resulted from his sallow pale features. Anyway Ghosty and his devoted. spaniel, Pew, always took an early morning stroll and it was clear that if any unusual calamity descended upon ‘ Der Schizenhauser’ the able ‘Ghosty’ Evans would be on hand to administer help” The next morning Rufus emerged from the Caravette and approached the closet humming confidently. In went the “cocktail’,’ he settled down, opened his newspaper and reached for his tobacco pouch. The briar was filled, the match was lit; a second match to ensure a thorough ignition and then raising himself an inch or two Rufus dropped the still flickering match below him. WHOOMPH….. Der Schitzenhauser, in spite of its rugged construction, was no more. The four walls fell out, the roof feIl in and Ringbinder still seated in a cloud of smoke cursed his French tobacco.
Meanwhile Evans and the faithful Pew ran to comfort the bellowing German. “My dear chap, how are you ? What a beastly thing to happen never trusted French plumbing myself” Fortunately, apart from considerable damage to his pride the robust Ringbinder suffered little discomfort, enough however for him to witness from the touchline a 3-2 victory by the Bulldogs and Doddmott. Well, he’s quite convinced no German ever suspected a British connection in the affair and, as he confided in me years later. ” Pays to take these things seriously you know, ever tried’ a BOVER BOOT”
‘Whats that’I enquired.. ” 1 large measure of Smirnoff, teaspoonful of Bovril and plenty of ice. If you don’t believe me see what it does for our lads in the Hague” he winked..