What's The Craic? - 1st Installment
Greetings, 19 September 2008
Almost 168 hours since i arrived at the Dublin Ferry Port on that sunny, early autumn Friday afternoon. This had become a muchly anticipated occasion for all concerned. For me it signified a moment in my life where i was literally setting foot into the land of the unknown. I had left my girlfriend, Jimmy behind for a 3 weeks (She will arrive later after having to complete her uni commitments), I had quit my stable job back in Sydney and said my farewells to the Sydney Uni Hockey Club and the responsibilies which kept me tied down, kept me grounded, busy and focused to a certain extent. My life in Sydney, the career, the hockey and the friends was being left behind, this was a new challenge and it felt great. For my new club 'The Corinthians Hockey Club' (CHC) this should also have been a defining moment, had they hedged there bets on the right player? was he fit? is he injured? all those things that make overseas recruitment for a non-professional sport all the more interesting. I expected the next week to be full of surprises, but most of all i hoped i could perfom.
The flight from Sydney to London was via Hong Kong (5 hour stay over), I flew into HK in the dark and was a little disapointed not to be able to view what i believed to be a pretty amazing landscape. More than likely due the tiredness of the 8.5hour flight i failed to realise i would see it all in its sunlight glory when i was set to take off again at 9.45am. The plane acended directly over HK City Centre, having studied Urban Design during my Town Planning Degree i'd heard and read so much about HK and it was very cool to see it from above, the clash of skyscrapers with lushily green mountain tops...I spotted a hockey pitch in the middle of a horse race course in the centre of the city, now thats good space management. A place to visit at a later date!
Landing in London 13.5 hours later, and after a surprisingly long grilling from customs (NB: when landing in london, have an address handy) and a TUBE mission to Balham Station I was greeted by two very old Tamworthian friends. The tiredness became irrelevant and I caught up with the old skool, old friends with new careers in an unfamiliar world, the sense of adventure is ripe and sitting in this pub, consuming a John Smiths, it couldn't get much better than this right now.
Day 1 of the mission was all for organising, reviving an old british bank account (which has since been taken over by one of UK's biggest banks), booking train/ferry tickets, purchasing phone cards. Going for a run, stretching out the aches and pains of a long haul flight, observing the squirells mustering up anything that look remotely edible, the bobby's writing someone a ticket in the middle of a park, what was that all about?
Day 2, i had decided to purchase the cheapest travel option from London to Dublin, £27 included a train from London Euston Station to Holyhead ferry port in Wales, then a 3 hour ferry ride straight into the centre of Dublin. Highlights of the train ride - river canals north of the UK capital and Conwy Castle. the majority of time on the Irish Ferry was spent wandering around, checking out the surprisingly good facilites. Anyway i arrived and departed the boat around 5.30pm, and was greeted shortly after the CHC Club Captain, Mags, Jimmy and I would also be living with Mags for the next few months. That night i chilled out, we had a game against the Leagues No.1 side, Three Rock Rovers in what was described to me as a 'mickey mouse' cup match and i was to play some part, so no Guiness yet.
The next day i greeted the team at my new home turf, straight away i felt apart of the team, we then travelled to Three Rock's pitch and got smashed 6-1... I think i was still on the boat/ plane or train. This was a great team for me to start with, although we got hammered, they had 3 or 4 irish nationals, they had many weaknesses which can be peppered at a later league match date! the afteroon that followed saw team doing a clean up of the CHC home pitch and facilties, this also involved beers and a significant moment came about when breaking from the pulling of weeds and sweeping of dirt, the lads got in a small circle on the half way line and drank beers, the banter was thick and fast, a lot to keep up with, but the moment was surreal. This sport we choose to play, sometimes its difficult to distinguish the reasons for why we play, is it the fitness,? joy in winning? the drive to succeed, or is it the mateship and social aspect of being in a hockey team that creates the passion to play the game.
The following day i played for the 2's team against Trinity (Dublin Uni) and got some more irish hockey in, I scored my first field goal from the top of the circle in a long long time, final result 2-2. Nothing like two games that gets you into it! The training schedule and organistion i feel is a little more professional than what i've been used to lately, well certainly in a warm up/ warm down kinda way. The importance of doing everything as a team is high on the agenda and even at training the determination to do things for your teammates is intense! the workrate is on a high level and even when some of my impressions on the standard of hockey being played is limited, im immediately impressed and fully satisfied with the pure passion the boys had to push hard at everything. Players in the preseason are always a little more driven for selections, obviously. The standard ive seen this week has been set, lets see if it continues...
Tonight im meeting up with some friends from Sydney, but before i catch up with them im booked into a Tour and Walk of the Temple Bar, this is part of an annual event in Dublin City called the 'Dublin Culture Night', i havent done much touristy stuff yet as i wait for Jimmy to arrive, so this should be a good night.
be well and will write when i can