Junior has found my old hockey stick and we have been using the waning daylight savings hours to practice dribbling and stopping and passing on our tussocky grass and on the concrete down the side of the house. I have been remembering how much fun I used to have playing hockey with the Mountain Districts team as a young feller, and wondering why I stopped in the first place.
I was telling the Noodle about the time we lost a game because our team was laughing so much, and he wondered why we were so bad. So I told him about how we often only had 8 or 9 players, and that even though we were technically the under-17s team that we only had about 3 or 4 players around the 16 mark and our youngest player was 11 (she always wore a skivvy to play in, too, and must have weighed about 22 kg ringing wet, which we often were).
Then I thought about how most of us had only played one or two games (or zero) before we joined the club and we were often playing against girls who had picked up their sticks at age 8 or 9 so that their teams had collectively 77 years of experience, and we collectively had about 12 or 13 days. Our first game was against a team in which half the girls were state representative players, and they beat us 10-nil. Our next game against them they only beat us 5-nil, which I think was the most satisfying sporting triumph of my admittedly-limited careeer.
So I think I didn't keep playing because once I hit university, everyone took it all so seriously and were expecting to win all the time. There are not so many hockey teams out there for a social hit-and-giggle experience. No doubt that attitude of ours irritated our coaches even at Mountain Districts, but it did mean that we all had a fantastic time, a great team spirit and a wonderful attitude to losing. The only people who disliked us were the second-top team, who we pretty consistently beat over our two seasons of existence, to their lasting astonishment and shame.
Playing hockey also me the opportunity to watch the Nylex clock (on the silos) click up from 4 to 11 degrees, thanks to a scheduling bungle from our team secretary. We were cold, but it was worth it. Yes, it was a long way from the mountains to Olympic Park, but not as far as it was to Werribee or Essendon, where we also played.
Also our home ground was a swamp, and frequently so deep in water that you really honestly could not see the ball, and just had to flail around with the stick until someone had the good fortune to hit it.
But I still miss playing, 20 years later. So if there are 20 to 30 middle-aged, unfit, not-very-fast running women (or men or children, for that matter) who would like to arrange a hit of social hockey from time to time, they so should get in touch with me. We could start with ten minute halves and move up from there. I know it's a bit harder to arrange than a game of social tennis, but surely it can't be impossible.