Suffolk and Essex hockey veterans seal Rabobank World Cup gold in Holland

From left to right: England veteran hockey players, Terry Howlett, Roger Girling and Mike Surridge.

From left to right: England veteran hockey players, Terry Howlett, Roger Girling and Mike Surridge. - Credit: Archant/brammer

The senior men’s team may have missed out on a bronze medal at last weekend’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup in Holland, but England didn’t come home empty-handed.

A clutch of Suffolk and Essex-based veterans did the country proud in their respective age groups, returning home with a selection of gold, silver and bronze medals.

Ipswich East Suffolk Hockey Club’s (IES) Mike Surridge was the hero, scoring the winner in the Over-70s’ 2-1 World Cup final victory against the hosts, and was well supported by team-mates, Colchester Hockey Club’s Terry Howlett and Bury St Edmunds’ Chris Blake.

England’s over-60s LX team, featuring IES player Graham Ramsden and Roger Girling from Ipswich Hockey Club, won gold in the World Cup Tournament Trophy over-60s team.

In the over-65s, Bury St Edmunds’ Norman Ballard won the top prize with his respective LX team, while Colchester’s Mark Hollingsworth took bronze with the England over-65 World Cup squad.

As for the over-75s, they finished as runners-up and were helped to that stage by Bury St Edmunds’ George Hazell.

“Being able to get from one end of the pitch to the other without the use of a zimmer frame is a basic requirement,” joked 71-year-old Terry, who collected his third World Cup gold.

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“Seriously though, hockey is a sport that England is particularly good at in the older age groups and I have been lucky enough to win three World Cups, with the over-60s in Hong Kong, over-65s in Cape Town and now the over-70s in Holland.

“I play for the love of the game, the travelling, the camaraderie.”

Terry’s team-mate Mike, who has now won four gold medals, scored the winning goal and revealed his emotions after tapping home the decisive strike.

“It was a mixture of relief and elation,” he explained.

“Holland got a penalty-flick with five minutes to go but we managed to smash the ball out of defence and I managed to find myself right in front of the goalkeeper to score.

“From that moment Holland were beaten as there was only five minutes to go.”

The next tournaments to look ahead to are the European Championships in St Albans next year and the World Championships in Newcastle, Australia, in 2016, and the vets have no intention of hanging up their sticks just yet.

“I think the reason so many people play hockey for so long is because your stick takes most of the punishment,” said Mike.

“You get the odd knock but it’s billed as a non-contact game and not as physical as football or rugby, which would be more difficult to play at our age.”

Roger, added: “The competitive spirit never leaves you.

“I remember thinking when I was in my thirties that I wouldn’t have many more years playing.

“However, as long as you are able, masters hockey is fantastic and the forthcoming tournaments give you the incentive to carry on.”

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