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I love the first weekend of the hockey season. I remember from my cricketing days just how great it was walking out to bat with the smell of washed whites and a freshly oiled bat. Hockey isn't quite so sensual now – no linseed oil and no just-cut grass, but if the sun shines the first game of the year is still loaded with anticipation.
But before that, a spot of umpiring. I don't really see this as a chore and actually quite enjoy trying to do the best job I can. I'd like the players to be happy with the job I've taken on – but let's face it they never are.
Whenever there is a question of interpretation I always think of point Andy Mair made to me: just think what the intention of the rule is. So to the player who argued that he should get a free hit because he'd missed a hit ball that then struck him in the lower third of his shinguard (you know who you are), I ask you, is it really the intention of the rules that things like that are blown up? Are you really in danger? I think not.
Back to playing the game; we were absolutely slaughtered by a fast, skilful and well organised team of youngsters, Southgate Goblets, (lost count 5:1 I think!). Oh to be young again, on astro and with the rules as they are now. Still I had my moments and when each season is one closer to your last, the game has to be treasured – even if the rain makes an appearance at about the time the fifth goal went in. Bring on next week!