Graham to realise World Cup dream
PUBLISHED: 13:26 15 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 March 2010
HOCKEY: Steve Graham will realise a four-year dream when he flies out from Heathrow on Wednesday. The 44-year-old has been named as one of 20 umpires who will officiate at hockey's World Cup in Kuala Lumpur from February 25 to March 9.
STEVE Graham will realise a four-year dream when he flies out from Heathrow on Wednesday.
The 44-year-old has been named as one of 20 umpires who will officiate at hockey's World Cup in Kuala Lumpur from February 25 to March 9.
Graham, who lives in Stutton, was delighted when he received the appointment and it more than made up for the disappointment he suffered four years ago.
"I had hoped to be in Utrecht in 1998 but it was not to be," he said. "However, I am really pleased to be going to this World Cup as it will be my last chance of such an event."
Graham, who is an FIH crown umpire class one, will have to retire at 47, but good performances in the seven or eight games in which he will take part could well earn him a place in the 2004 Beijing Olympics.
The modest Graham, who as a Welsh international umpire will be flying the flag for that country as well as for Suffolk, added: "I am certainly not looking that far ahead at the moment. I just hope to do well in the World Cup and then we'll have to see what happens."
His ticket to Kuala Lumpur came as a result of good marks gained during the men's Champions Challenge in Malaysia just before last Christmas where he umpired five matches, including the final.
Also bound for Europe is another Suffolk umpire, Neil Smith, who has been appointed to the men's European Cup Winners' Cup tournament over the Easter weekend in Eindhoven.
Smith, 38, who lives in Bury St Edmunds and has recently gained his Federation of International Hockey badge, said: "I'm really looking forward to it and it's a great honour for me and for the county."
Reading will represent England in the Cup Winners' Cup but Smith added: "I will be allocated to the other pool of teams and won't be umpiring them."
He added: "My goal now is to be one of the umpires selected for the Commonwealth Games in 2006 as that would be fantastic."
Danny Lever, chairman of the Suffolk Umpires' Association, said today: "I am delighted that our
county has been recognised in such a way.
"Both Steve and Neil are highly respected umpires and thoroughly deserve appointments at such levels."