Michael (Mole) Whatley and son Alastair Whatley
This brand new feature is highlighting some of the family connections running through SHC. I thought to kick us off I’d start close to home and ring up my Dad, Michael Whatley who is living out in Suffolk. Michael played regularly for the club through the late 70’s and into the 80’s and toured with the Pistons until 2004. He subsequently set up his own law firm in Newmarket and has recently (just about) retired (for the 4th time).
I joined the club recently in 2018 after a (now much regretted) 20 year break from hockey. I now work (or try to) as a theatre director, producer and actor although since joining the club I’ve made sure to give up the acting to allow me to keep Saturdays free for playing in the 4A’s.
“Playing for Southgate and Pistons hold some of my happiest memories and it is great that that some of us still play bad golf together. Imagine my surprise when a couple of years ago my eldest son Alastair (Cuckoo) asked if I could get him a game at Southgate.
A swift call to Scottie (Adrian Scott-Knight) and he was playing the next Saturday. It gave me great pleasure to hear that he was playing with some of my old team mates. Badger (Chris Gerrard) Scottie and (John) Wilmott. A great advertisement for the longevity of the game.
Although not as skilled as the old Mole he has developed a knack of scoring goals and won most goals in the season last year. I think my claim to fame was scoring the winning goal when we played Richmond for a barrel of beer. A great evening was had by all .
I was also a member of Pistons and secretary of the summer Pistons and regularly in the summer and in the six nations tours. It is even more surprising that Cuckoo is now Secretary of the club. His enthusiasm knows no bounds and it is a delight that he is not only following but improving in his fathers footsteps playing in the same team (4A’S).
I wish him and the whole of Southgate the very best of luck for the future .Like Scottie you could still be playing in your 80s!”
Thinking back to it, hockey has never been too far from view in the Whatley household. I believe it all started in the early 80’s when my Mum was invited up to meet my Dad at his country bachelor pad in Suffolk (John Willmott – one of the guests – is threatening to tell me the stories). My Dad keen to make a good first impression got dressed up in his finest clothes (full SHC kit of course) and set about making sure as she arrived he could be seen in Southgate colours practicing his Indian dribble.
The club kit clearly made an impression as she did marry him some years later even though she still recalls how, ‘he did look a bit of a prat’.
I remember my Dad spending some hours trying to teach me some nascent elimination skill, I never mastered it- and some 30 years later it still eludes me. I played at school to just about above average standard. Still on grass for my first 5 years before moving to a school in Cambridge and finding the astroturf for the first time.
I have vague memories of John Willmott, Alistair Pinney, Warwick Hoyle and others when I joined them aged 8 for a Pistons tour to Brussels. I think possibly the touring must have made an impression as producing theatre tours has subsequently become my profession. I also believe we came down for the opening of the new club house in Trent Park in the late 90’s.
Yet at 16 the theatre world took my attentions away and it wasn’t until I moved to Cockfosters on the invitation of a folk musician called James Findlay (now also a proud SHC member) that on a run around Trent Park I realised how close to my Dad’s old club I now lived. That must have been November 2018- I called my Dad and he called his chum Adrian who in turn called Mike Fitter who promptly called me and explained in some detail how the club operated and the fact there was no longer an off side rule. I was instructed to buy some kit and find a stick.