Festivals Part 2

In my previous post, I told you how it all started….well for me anyway. The trip to Lowestoft with the Haunchers was wonderful and led to a whole host of great times……none more so than playing mixed hockey. Before I tell you any more, I should say that in the last couple of months I’ve had the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with this wonderful form of the game, after not playing it for a very long time. Salisbury hockey club have been running a mixed summer league and some friendly mixed games every other Saturday, which I have been privileged to be part of. Image0051As well as great fun on the pitch with the games being played in the right way, the social element and mix of age groups has been fantastic. It has been great to play alongside and against friends old and new alike. The mixed tale for me starts ohhh, a very long time ago. I was just about to tell you when, but, well let’s just say it seems like another lifetime ago. As a youngster, on joining the hockey club, one thing in the club’s fixture card, well two actually, caught my eye and intrigued me greatly. On the back pages of the card were fixtures for Mixed 1st XI and Mixed 2nd XI. I had no idea at the time what this was, but was very keen to find out. As it happened it didn’t actually take too long. At the time the men’s and ladies’ clubs were separate entities, based at the same location. The members of both clubs got on famously, with the social side of the sport being just the best thing ever. The clubhouse on a Saturday night was buzzing with hockey players. Come 6pm, it was just heaving. Players who’d played at home at 2.45 were still there, with all of the away teams arriving back at just about the same time. It didn’t take long, even for a shy teetotaller like mysel,f to make friends and join in with the fun. In making friends, I managed to be invited along for some of the mixed games, and ended up being a regular player in both of the mixed sides……it was an amazing time to be involved with hockey, well for me anyway and to this day, the magic and friendship of that period of time has never been repeated with quite such an effect. Playing in the mixed sides consequently led on to……….mixed tournaments! The earliest one I can remember playing in was down at Chichester on a Sunday. We as a team stayed all day, played in loads of games, didn’t win a cup or anything, and then stopped off on the way home for food and of course a drink…….what a day! Although I can remember snippets of the hockey, it was the atmosphere and friendship that sticks out in my mind, even to this day…..don’t forget, I was only a very young teenager, so we’re talking well over 25 years ago. The mixed games could only ever lead on to one thing………Worthing! The biggest mixed hockey festival, certainly in the country at the time, and if I’m not mistaken, in Europe. Salisbury hockey club’s annual trip had already been going for quite some time before I had my first taste of it. Having heard dozens of stories about the adventures of others at Worthing, it was with no small amount of excitement that I set off on my first one…….and believe you me, it did not disappoint. The non-stop hockey and socialising was something else all together, and made my trip to Lowestoft with the Haunchers look very tame, something I wouldn’t have believed possible. The tour started by meeting up late afternoon on the Friday, by which time some members of team had already started….’socialising’. The trip there, at breakneck speed, was followed by a first come, first serve, fight for who had which room in the guest house, before very quickly heading out into town to find a pub or pubs that would be open as late as possible (for those younger readers……this was long before 24hr opening). After the pubs, it would be on to a rather large hotel, where some friends of the team would be staying, and there we would stay, until well into the early hours of the morning. All of this, and then up early for more adventure, hockey, and yes you’ve guessed it…more…’socialising’. How the good residents of Worthing ever coped with what went on in their lovely town during that weekend…I’ll never know. You only had to leave the guest house and walk for a few minutes before you’d bump into another hockey team, heading for the crazy golf course, the go karts, the town or the beach…….it was absolutely heaving with hockey players. All in all, I attended Worthing on four of five occasions….each one fantastic in its own right. I’ll try and tell you some of the highlights in my next post….but please bear in mind, there’s quite a lot (being sober all the time, means that I can always remember everything everyone else has done, in quite a lot of detail. Also, fun for me means that I always add a few things into what actually happened, just to amuse me, while helping to fill in the gaps in my hungover teammates’ memories) that I really can’t mention….I think you’ll understand. To be continued…

Your thoughts are much appreciated..........Thanks!