Golden Oldies World Hockey Festival – words from Helen Johnston
Six Irish teams took part in the 15th Golden Oldies World Hockey Festival which took place in Edinburgh two weeks ago as part of one of the biggest events in the sport.
800 players, men and women aged 35 and over, in 55 teams from 14 countries took part in the ‘Fun, Friendship and Fraternity’, celebrating enjoyment in the game of hockey.
The six Irish teams – Black Velvets (Railway Ladies), Celtic Tigers (Railway men), Cork Harlequins, Dalkey Dollies, Galway Hookers and Irish Gamesters (Glenanne Men) – played at Peffermill on two astoturf pitches and nine grass pitches, with entertainment, including a ‘medieval picnic’ and ‘taste of Scotland’ and sightseeing taking place on the alternate days.
On ‘hockey days’, teams played up to three matches (20 minutes each way) which were played in a spirit of participation and fun – scores were not recorded.
The Black Velvets (pictured below with the Celtic Tigers) for example, played nine games against teams from Canada (3), Argentina (2), Hong Kong, Germany, Bermuda and Australia – a truly international experience.
Some awards were made at the final tournament dinner (where the menu included haggis and a Rod Stewart Tribute Act provided the entertainment, with Railway’s Helen Roche winning an award for the Spirit of the Festival.
She played in goals for the Black Velvets and the Kiwi Birds, as well as helping out a couple of men’s teams who were short a goalkeeper, playing up to six matches a day. She also played in a Rest of the World Selection vs the Scottish Masters Team, pulling off a string of brilliant saves.
‘Rochie’ also entered into the spirit of the festival off the pitch – truly capturing the fun and friendship of Golden Oldies Hockey. So to all the young’uns out there – keep playing – hockey is truly a lifelong, international, fun sport!