Ian Campbell

Ian Campbell




Presidents Introduction:

In this months edition meet Ian Campbell. A charismatic ex-chairman of the club who, on his own admission, is more a legend for the part he played in turning the club around during a very difficult period than his silky skills as a player. Ian, to this day, regularly attends first team matches and is a keen supporter of the club  His contribution to the club over the years has been immense.

Pre-Cardiff Years

At the age of 13 at secondary school I was Captain of the school football team and also played in the Rugby team at John Hampden Grammer school in High Wycombe, Bucks. The day before my 14th birthday I broke my nose in Rugby and had to sit out most of the game , the hockey team were playing on the next pitch and were short of players ! "Hey You, with your kit on , get over here and stand on the left wing and here is your stick !"


Petrified , I did what was asked and attempted to follow the idea of the game, running up and down hoping to look as if I knew what I was doing , blood seeping down from my nose, until the ball was miss hit and came towards me at pace .. of course I missed it with my stick but it flew up the pitch and I followed, I managed a slight touch into a sort of D area and swung my (below my shoulder rule) crooked stick at the ball not knowing what would happen next ... it went into the goal through the keepers "cricket pad" legs  who at that moment crashed into me but got the follow through from my stick and lay there moaning . However , despite the casualty I was ecstatic and from that day never played football or Rugby again - Hockey was now my passion in my life . Had a sore nose for weeks after though.

Our school team was unbeaten for 3 years at that moment and most of us also joined the youth section at High Wycombe Hockey Club , by 16 yrs of age I was playing school and Bucks county games during the week as well as Wycombe youth and senior teams on Saturday and Sunday. Our school team continued to dominate the the other schools in Buckinghamshire and life was good. I drank orange juice and milk, not reached beer at this stage.

The University Years

 At 18 I went onto Bucks University in High Wycombe and joined the Uni Team and eventually was appointed Captain and at weekends had progressed to High Wycombe first X1 on the left wing mainly due to my speed and ability to reverse stick hit, which was more luck than technique . Our Uni team was average but two of us got picked for South East England Uni/Poly team and traveled far and wide with some players that eventually got to GB status so standard was high and  we just enjoyed being part of a solid team of young guys good at what we did .  Of course it was all on grass those days so technique was about "predicting the unexpected" and a turn of speed was a major advantage. I had tried a few beers but mainly orange juice now with lemonade was my tipple. Ohh I had quite taste for hockey Club cooked teas after the match and evenings started to extend as girls started to be something to study, but without the beer, shyness prevailed.


A sliding tackle in a Uni game to stop a very skilled Shiekh cut my right knee open on a buried flint and after running (hobbling like a Goblin actually) straight out onto a dual carriage way dragging a flaying limb covered in blood with one red soaked sock and one white mud clogged sock, I hailed down a frightened lady driver with my hockey, crooked staff,  who immediately drove me to the Wycombe hospital where I immediately passed out to wake up in the morning after surgery, I could not feel my leg!

My parents were at my bedside and I drifted my left hand to feel my leg and brushed an iron contraption that I thought was a replacement limb! What a shock.

After calming down it was explained I had cut through the knee tendon and it had snapped back at both ends into my shin and upper limb and I had surgery to retrieve and resew the tendon back together and would be a year to relearn how to walk again and restrengthen the muscles again and then see if it could withstand sport once again... I was young and I was always an optimist and always liked a challenge and six months later I was back on the hockey pitch although bending the left knee to at best to 90% took longer and was extremely painful in a forced squat ... but hockey was back and that was all that mattered.

In 1976 I had a work placement year from my College Business Studies course and went to Vancouver, Canada  and as I was studying at University of British Columbia (BC Uni) and the Canadian Olympic Hockey team trained there and I was lucky to join their training sessions and stand in on some pre-olympic games . That was the year the Olympic's was held in Montreal and the first time ever it was held on an artificial turf "Astro", New Zealand won . Vancouver was amazing for it's  outdoor lifestyles and wow factor mountain backdrops and it's sea trimmed forests and beaches where one could ski in the mountains in the morning and bbq on the beach at Stanley Park Forest virtually in the centre of the City in the afternoon.   It's was amazing what a British accent and an ability to play Spanish guitar could do in Vancouver although that's another story !


On return to the Uk I got a job with a Canadian Timber Company with HQ in Central London but was soon transferred to Cardiff where our ships arrived form Vancouver with oil tanker size full of wood for construction in the UK. My first impressions was that Cardiff was back of beyond, Pubs were closed on a Sunday, they served black beer called Brains Dark !!, and women weren't allowed in most of these establishments especially down the docks. Still I joined the Cardiff hockey Club and after several hard training sessions I was trialed in the first 11 and made it as Left Wing mainly because no one else wanted to play that position although my speed kept me there for a season or two but as so many players were in the Welsh squad or GB squad it was a YoYo of a position between 1st and 3rd 11.

I was a committed Hockey player and never missed a game on a Saturday and enjoyed the old Club House at Sophia Gardens and late night sessions and "entertainment" and Bill Hunt's magic guitar rock solos, how we got home was difficult to recall but this was new era and shandies had turned to beer and girls had captured my attention , but Saturdays and New Years Day hockey sessions were never missed. I met a girl who turned up unexpectedly to watch me play a hockey match on Llandaff playing fields and she fancied my legs in those white socks  - What about the hockey , she never mentioned it - but we got married a few years later and the legs still have it!

Growing Cardiff & Met HC

Slowly we moved from grass to "redgra" (a type of gravel that made your knees bleed if you fell) and my speed held me in good stead although as the years rolled on 2nd  and 3rd X1 became standard games but the skills were evident all around me and we  knew when to up the tackles to regain control and my poistion moved from Left wing to left inner and eventually to centre mid field with a calm head and hard work ethic , these were the days that youth of Shelton (the son of the father) and Tim Percival (Brick wall at the back) , held us like a fortress and produced league winner team year after year.


Time came to put something back into the Club as I accepted the position of Chairman of the Club and at the time Cardiff hockey was struggling in that, despite being the oldest Club in Wales, new  members were few and far between and rising stars were no where to be seen as we had no youth section . We were running 5 men's sides and 3 women's sides with only enough players for half the games, our teams were loosing and Whitchurch were on the rise and attracting all the talent  - this was serious and we had to make a strategic shift in structure.


I took on the Chairmanship in an effort to add a touch of business acumen from my successful rise to youngest Director of the Global Canadian Timber Company where we were now the largest shipper of wood from Canada to Europe and Cardiff was our epi-entre for cargoes delivering out over 70 lorry loads a day to timber merchants across the UK. We still do not know where all this wood went and why the demand never stopped and still today the Uk imports vast volumes of softwood timber for construction and refurbishment, it has been our 2nd highest import after food for many years. We could build a three lane motorway to the moon with the wood we import in a year!

After a re-organaisation of the hockey club board from 22 participants to 9 executives headed by myself, Bill Hunt as secretary and Matt Millard as Minister with Portfolio but the power to action the strategy we set an aggressive campaign to attract and build an official Youth section and were lucky enough to attract back from Llanishen hockey Club an Ex Cardiff player Jonathan Atter, his discipline and command of a proper structure and full support of the Club to build the best youth section in Wales and along with assistant Andy Griffiths they attracted over 60 young players in the first few months....teams started winning  and as the years passed we developed young players to Welsh and European status such as James Campbell (JC), Dale Hutchinson, Owain Dolan-Gray, George Waller and many others .


New technology was around such as Internet and we decided to advertise the need for good players from abroad and Bill set to work on Australia and New Zealand and the response from top players wanting to visit Europe was exciting and helped propel the Club to new heights at 1st XI and into Europe...along with a concerted push to get players to take level 1 umpires courses we were on our way to better times and the success of those early changes was then built on by our Club Champions such as Shelton and Chris Sutton in having the foresight to link with CardiffMet and their sports academies and facilities.


We still never quite managed to re-ignite the past in our own Club house and astro facilities but one never knows what the future holds and we are ever grateful to Cardiff Athletic Club for their ongoing support to hockey and the tremendous history of this Club.

I am still playing squash 2 or 3 times a week (subject Covid) with players of Cardiff hockey and still able to hold my own albeit time to recover seems to be getting longer , and am full time bringing up my grand children in Jac 11 yrs old and Isabella 8 yrs old ... Jac has has had a season of hockey at 7yrs old and has taken up squash, clarinet and surfing and who knows what "miss personality" Bella will do. My business is now building Timber Frame Housing and Affordable Homes for those in need ,  so interesting times still ahead but I owe my longevity, health but most of all my friendships in my life to many of my colleagues that I played alongside and had such fun on match days (and nights) and tournaments , if I could live life again I wouldn't change a thing  . I have been very lucky and owe alot to hockey for forging so many relationships - it is in sport that we can find ourselves .


I am not a legend but I have a story which is a gift in itself which I hope will enthuse others to take up the game of hockey and all the adventures it can bring. Always push the boundaries you never know what you can achieve, chase happiness , life is not a rehearsal make the most of it and always smile . 


Many Thanks to Cardiff Hockey Club in all it has done for me and many others.


Ian Campbell

Nickname "Star" -- never knew why !