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.
Nickname "Star" -- never knew why !