Somewhere at the back end of 2008, the decision was made that The Hook would be travelling to the Olympic Games.
All that existed by way of a plan was that accommodation had been secured on the floor of a friend’s house in Elephant and Castle, the elder sister of the goalkeeper of the 2000 Sandford senior league winning team.
It was not a plan forged in logic. A year into a fledgling journalistic career, the aspiration was to be a Hunter S Thompson/Andrew Jennings amalgam, rocking and rolling through the Games.
Failing that, hoovering up tickets in the public lottery looked the most likely route to London. Applying for every hockey ticket, I got none. Nor, for that matter, even the sniff of a Greco-Roman seat.
The Hook (and the day job with the Gazette Group) may have some cred on this side of the pond but accreditation chiefs are likely to have ignored any request.
But somewhere around last November, the FIH – after a little bit gentle hectoring – intervened to restore a dream, offering the chance to cover the Games for their website, 16 days at the Games.
So, here I am, waiting for the Aircoach out to the Dublin airport, breaking all the unwritten credos of The Hook (somewhere down there with the reasoning behind why the vast majority of comments are moderated!).
Specifically, I have an aversion to journalism that place the writer at the centre of the action. But for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be putting together a weblog of the Games from my perspective.
It may be wholly for my own memories but maybe some insight will be proffered. The format, regularity remain to be seen but, for match reporting, the FIH website is the place to see my (and that of Yan Huckendubler) take on the action.
To date, the anticipation has mainly fallen on the functional side with a never-ending battle to get the right passport photo for my Olympic accreditation.
Not through any particular vanity but apparently those working at the Games are not allowed to smile when photographed. Whether this is a portent to what is coming down the line, Vice do a nice line in cynicism (see video).
The promise is of 18-hour days. When the preview pieces were doled out, I was handed he Korean men – apparently I had seen them most recently of our small crew of writers.
Neither issue, nor the never-ending London blogs of impending doom, has dimmed any enthusiasm though a sleepy Marlborough Road this morning is likely to be anathema to Heathrow in a few hours.
Being a product of a devout hockey family – my parents met off the back of a Trinity tour to Holland – the Olympics has always been the be all and end all, the event the family gathered around much more so than the likes of Euro 88 and the 1990 World Cup.
As a kid, primary memories are wrapped in fluorescent orange. Summers were spent in Holland with my grandmother in Bilthoven. Memories of Irish endeavour, as such, are exceptionally vague – I remember Michael Carruth but not Wayne McCullough.
But the minutiae of the Dutch hockey team in 1992 are still with me from long before Youtube took over. Gijs Weterings’ long forgotten one-handed slash four seconds after a tip-off in their 4-3 bronze medal loss is still the best goal I’ve ever seen.
Never mind he must have started about 20 metres offside in the Pakistani half and it was ultimately a meaningless consolation goal, it was a breath-taking effort. I think it was either Mark Delissen or Cees Jan Diepeveen who flicked it from halfway to bounce perfectly to meet his dive and swing. Boom.
I also remember the faded grey caption misspelt his name (Gisj). Similarly rock and roll, the keeper Frank Leistra produced the greatest cricketing feat at the Games, on the final whistle managing to chuck the ball a full 40 metres to pick out the umpire.
Warren Birmingham (pictured) lifted the trophy that year, possibly providing Shane Warne with inspiration for his peroxide mop that blinded the English in 1993.
Despite being a gold medal winner, his online presence seems limited, consigned to a quick three line Wikipedia entry but was one of my heroes, donning the Aussie number one singlet.
It cemented a love affair with the sport, one that I have the pleasure and delight to write about for part of my professional life, and one that I hope to write about for the next couple of weeks.
** Updates on Leinster hockey may be sporadic over the course of the next couple of weeks but do keep sending in your news and information and I will endeavor to post when I can.
Launched in August 2007, The Hook has set out to provide news and information for hockey in Leinster. The site has developed since then to cover all levels of the sport in Ireland and beyond, providing stories on schools, club, interprovincial and international. Working in tandem with the superb Irish Hockey Photographers, The Hook aims to offer the best coverage of the sport in the province. Should you have any queries or suggestions, please email founder, Stephen Findlater, at firstname.lastname@example.org.