By Mike Cleverley
Masters hockey is a wonderful thing.
Whilst in many sports any chance of playing in International tournaments across the world has long since faded when you have gone beyond your mid-30s, Masters hockey offers international hockey from over 35s all the way to over 80s.
Having been involved since the very first Home Nations as the Wales goalie, I have recently discovered being able to play outfield for the Dragons team, part of the LX hockey family (over 60 and counting), which sits just below the ‘international’ tier, but still playing representative hockey.
My first experience was in Durham last year playing in the Northern LX tournament. It was here that I heard of the fantastic trips to Lille for the tournament there. Duly selected, planning began.
With the news of the spread of COVID-19, the two Italian teams had to withdraw but, following advice from the French Hockey Federation, ourselves, the two Scottish Thistles, England LX and the French assembled at Lille.
As we arrived at the ground on the Friday morning the organisers, had just been told by the French Federation that all tournament hockey had been cancelled - but training matches were allowed. Since we were already there, we decided to play a round of training games and see what further instructions came during the day.
Unfortunately, most of the French players had to withdraw on the Saturday, but a few remained and augmented some of the other teams.
A further round of training matches took place and, although results are irrelevant (or just a little bit less important than taking part), Scottish Blue Thistles won all their games and would have been crowned champions. However, as the 79-year-old legend that is Glyn said,
“There was no tournament, so the Wales Dragons retain that accolade for a further year as the current holders.”
This is a difficult time for all with the current situation, but this group of Masters are now back in the UK safe and well. We were glad that we could support our French colleagues and hope that we were able to offset the financial consequences for Ronchin HC.
In hindsight perhaps it should have been called off, but I suppose a unique feature of LX hockey is that for long periods of the game everyone is well over a metre apart!
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