Sunday, June 23, 2024

Seoul Olympics 1988 memories: I turned my hockey stick and shinned Roger Self

In an extract taken from Seoul Glow, a new book about Great Britain‘s golden success in 1988, defender Martyn Grimley recalls training sessions with late manager Roger Self and how it made him into a hardened individual and international

Part of Roger Self’s raison d’etre as a manager was not only you had the skill to play, but to play international hockey was an examination of your ability to perform when questions were asked. If you didn’t have the answer you wouldn’t make it. It was, perhaps, a way of trying to see what was inside you and not what was on the outside.

I saw countless scenarios where players weren’t going to make it. If you said the wrong thing, he would take umbrage at you. He would regularly test your mettle.

He had a Karachi King Super stick with an extended head and used to wear a pair of gardening gloves. He wasn’t great at hockey but was masterful at management.

He got me down to the D, with Ian Taylor in goal. He disappeared off to the corner flags and picked up two of them from the football pitch.

“Right, you’ve got the world’s best goalkeeper there. We will have 10 shots and I want to see how many you can score and let’s see what you’re made off”.

He stood behind me, saying: “I am Volker Fried”. He was a German centre half, with a square head and built like a tank.

Robert Clift knocks in a ball, I nudge it into the circle and I am just about to hit it when Roger lashes me across the legs and my hands with the plastic corner flag.

The ball shoots off 10 yards past the goal. “1-0 to Volke”. The next one comes in and this time I make Tayls into a save as I am expecting trouble. Only this time I have two wheel marks on my legs and half a finger left on my left hand.

It was only going downhill.

I had to think fast.

On the third go, I turned my stick over and I carted Roger on his shin. He went down very quickly, split his leg as my stick had gone on to his shine bone. I leant over and said: “Roger, the first thing I do is check with Volke would have his shin pads on.”

The 1988 side pictured together in 2008

I didn’t care that I hadn’t scored; it was about having some sort of steel, resolve or response to the situation. Or would I have continued doing what I had done or go with the flow? Was there a change with what I was going to do as an individual?

That was what he was after. If you got done three times by the same player, you wouldn’t make it as an international player.

That never left me.

Seoul Glow: The Story Behind Britain’s First Olympic Hockey Gold By Rod Gilmour (Pitch Publishing) is available from all good stockists now.

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