Those who regularly follow my blog will know that I am a keen sports fan following a wide range of sports and have posted several times on matters to do with cricket and football. I have participated in a number of sports over the years but not these days, unless you count going to the gym 3-4 times a week. When I did play, I was never that good but I was keen and dedicated and enjoyed playing.
One unlikely experience occurred soon after I began to attend a teacher training college, 1974-75. At that time, I was fairly fit and up for most things sports wise. One early Saturday afternoon, I bumped into the captain of our college men’s field hockey team, who asked me if I could play for the team as they were a man short. I told him I had never played hockey before. He reassured me that it wasn’t an insurmountable problem. After a brief induction, I found myself turning out for the team some two hours later and over the coming months getting the hang of the game. So my hockey career began. I did practice but found my playing abilities never got much better than moderate, although I enjoyed the experience of playing a game I grew to love. I played for the college team for the rest of the season and it was an important part of my college life. When I returned to my home town of Southend upon finishing my course, I decided to check out the local scene in order to find a team I could play for.
In those days, one of the big clubs in the town was Westcliff, who played in Southchurch Park. I remember watching the first team play one Saturday afternoon, a little before I returned, and being struck by one player in particular because of his amazing skill with the stick, his quite evident passion for the game and his ability to score goals. His name was Dominic Bann and even then he could be classed as a veteran and a sprightly one at that – on and off the pitch. I didn’t get to join Westcliff but I did join local rivals, the Old Southendians (a club that was linked to my old school), and I played regularly for them, sometimes against Westcliff, for the next two seasons. I became more aware of Dominic over that time, although I don’t recall playing against him as I generally played in one of the lower elevens. I continued to play hockey when I moved from Southend to Poole, and even captained one of the teams, but gave up playing after a few years, and have not played hockey since then.
The reason for these reminiscences was because of an article in the sports pages of today’s Southend Echo that had the title “Bann, 79, proving age is nothing but a number – Hockey star back playing months after heart bypass“. Central to the article was a photo of a smiling Dominic with some of the many trophies he has gathered over his long and illustrious hockey playing career. The article itself recalled his playing career, starting as a 15 year old playing for his father’s RAF team stationed in the Middle East, until the present day. During his career he played at the highest level, particularly in veteran teams, and despite a recent health set back is still playing today. I would like to pay tribute to Dominic Bann, who is truly a local legend and an inspiration to old and young alike. I daresay, now 79, he won’t be running around with the same gay abandon as he once did, but I wish him more happy hockey days to come!