When I did a year of high school in England I had to find some sports to play. I always have to be doing something to this day. Trouble was there was no hockey. The English were fucked that way. If they played hockey they would be involved in less wars. It is better to let loose aggression now and again and there is no better way to do so than in a rink.
The only team I tried out for at school was the field hockey team. I had played lots of field hockey home in Canada. Just like everybody else I played every permutation of hockey imaginable. I think that was part of my attraction to punk rock: slamming up near the stage was like paying the price and exacting the price in front of the net. One of the field hockey players at school was an all-England under 19 player. He was not too bad. At the try out I scored a goal with a nifty little between the legs shot like Marek Malik made on a penalty shot for the New York Rangers this year except I did it while some English hooligan was trying to check me during the course of play. The English blokes could not believe their eyes. I knew I was not much of a hockey player and I was going to be god fucking damned if I was going to let them shoot the cannon ball they play with at me in the net so I wished them all the best, see you at the pub.
There was no body checking allowed - boring! - you could only shoot with one side of your stick - stupid! - and fighting was discouraged. Fighting was why they held football matches every weekend. Back in Canada we turned every sport there was into hockey. In elementary school we invented piggyback fights. It was like a hockey fight except you carried someone around on your shoulders. We body checked in soccer. We thought football was a pussy sport because the players wore too many pads and a helmet. Soft headed bastards! So field hockey was out.
So I played lots of soccer in England. I played in goal. The non-hockey playing pasty skinned bastards were too talented for me to compete against outside the crease and I did not play for the school. I joined the track team since I had been practicing the hurdles at home. I even tried the pole vault and the high jump. I was fucking hopeless but I had fun.
The track team only had one big competition every year. It was against school rival Eton College. That was the rich kid's school across the river. It is the school the King and Queen's kids attend. The only sport they are recognized champions at is bumholing. True. Me and my hurdle running buddy Giles (they really name their kids like that in England) were pumped to beat the Eton bumhole squad in the hurdles. Trouble was they sent no hurdlers to the competition. Giles beat me in the race for the gold medal. I picked up silver for running through every hurdle like a steel shinned looney.
I tried my hand at cricket, a game I admire despite its lack of body checking. I was a feeb at bat and have only the greatest respect for anyone who can bounce a ball with the accuracy baseball pitchers do with no bounce. A few times the English humoured me in good weather by dusting off the rounders equipment. They had some old baseball gloves and other equipment from the 1930s. We played with the fifth base and a few other hitches with which they play baseball over there. I was never much of baseball player, there is no goalie position, so it was probably the only sport we played where our uncommon nationalities meshed. To this day I relish the peaceful easy feeling of playing rounders on warm summer day.
The only sport I excelled at in England was basketball. I was the worst basketball player in my school at home but I had been coached by a championship coach there. The English play basketball like Jamaicans play hockey. But for some reason basketball was a big intra-mural sport in school. I could not shoot a basket to save my life but I coached my teammates, especially the tallest of them, how to aim with your elbow and hope for the best. My job was to pass the ball to the tall guy (his name was Jeeves) and give him as many shots per game as possible because he was going to need loads to score a few baskets.
My other job was to foul the other team's best player out of the game. This I did by tugging on his thigh hair and elbowing him in the ribs and head when the ref was not looking and yelling just before I could see the retribution heading my way. Classic hockey tactics except for the thigh hair pulling bit. My house team only came second in the championship but we had great fun and only bled a little.
The only hockey I saw in England was on a weekly plays of the week segment on the telly. All they showed was fighting. It was the 1970s. The hockey players on the telly bled like soldiers. The English said things like, "What kind of a sport is that?" In the mornings when they awoke to another day of beer drinking I think they were all secretly pleased I had not bludgeoned them to death with a stick in the night.