Golden goals! Local player brings hockey to the over-75s
OLD-fashioned values of good sportsmanship and fair play were on display when the first-ever tournament for hockey players aged 75 and over – at local, county, regional or national level – was hosted by Kettering Hockey Club, the brainchild of local man Bill Greenwood.
Bill is a member of the England Veteran Grand Masters Hockey Squad and Kettering Hockey Club (KHC) and brought teams together to compete in the the English Veteran Grand Masters Hockey Tournament. It proved to be a resounding success.
Held at Wrenn School in Wellingborough, teams from the East, South, Midlands and West of England – whose ages added up to an amazing 3,000 years – played for the Veteran Grand Masters Trophy.
And, with some of the older players in their early to mid-80s, this was a truly remarkable tournament. There was such enthusiasm for the competition and the interest was so great that the tournament will be extended next year with more teams wishing to enter. Gerald Wilkinson, playing for the West, is also a renowned triple jumper – ranking number one in the world in his age group.
After two days’ competition, gruelling even for the comparatively youthful Kettering host team (which came fourth), the victors’ laurels were awarded to the team from the South of England and the trophy was presented by Bill Greenwood.
Thanks go to students from Leicester University who provided physiotherapy cover throughout the weekend and to a fantastic band of volunteers who provided food and drink during the day as well as a superb evening meal for all the competitors back at KHC clubhouse on the Saturday evening.
Telling Extra Local all about him is Jan Randle, who adds: “He won’t be too happy about it as he is a very modest gentleman!
“Bill plays for KHC, Bill coaches at KHC and Bill umpires at KHC. What more can we say? At the age of 78, Bill is truly an inspiration to young and old alike.
“Bill has represented the Midlands for a number of years and when he decided to arrange a tournament for players 75+ he contacted the many hockey friends he had made over the years while playing in previous ‘younger’ regional tournaments and they were more than happy to answer the call.”
Bill – who was the winner of a Life-time Achievement Award presented by Northamptonshire Sport for 2014/ 2015 – has been actively involved in sport from an early age, as a player and teacher in England and Germany. While in Germany, he played hockey and cricket for an army unit in Gutersloh and was a regular guest at a club in Eindhoven. There were regular exchanges between the two clubs and the contacts he made continued when he returned to England.
Bill joined KHC in 1975. He was largely responsible for starting the highly successful Kettering Hockey Festival and, using his contacts while working abroad, arranging visits to hockey tournaments in Belgium and Holland.
He also started the world famous Waendel Walk and is one of only three British walkers to complete the Nijmegen walking event more than 40 times.
His heart bypass in 2009 slowed him down for a while, but in the last five years he has played for both the Midlands and England over-70 teams and was part of the very first England over-75 squad.
Bill was a founder member of the Alliance Hockey team, an international club open to anyone, but especially aimed at players who do not have a national team. During the 2013/14 season, the Alliance players competed in the hockey world cup in the Hague and was the oldest team ever to participate in a competitive tournament, averaging 79 years and 321 days!
Pictured above – PUCK PLUCK: The teams line up – Bill is the seventh from the left in the photo.