Field hockey and ice hockey are two variants of the sport that experience differing levels of popularity across the globe. Fans of the sports will often debate over which sport requires more skill, or which is merely more entertaining to watch.
However, there are many players that have played both versions of the sport and found success in each. The two types of hockey share a host of similarities, but of course, are played on extremely different ground conditions. But that has not prevented some individuals from mastering both forms of the worldwide sport.
The field hockey legend was a lover of both sports
Ashley Jackson is known mostly for being a great of English field hockey. He is the team’s all-time top goalscorer with a remarkable 137-goal tally. Jackson has also ventured into ice hockey during his career, which is an incredibly unique feat considering the sport’s lack of popularity in England.
England is typically one of the leading nations when it comes to field hockey, but on ice, the unified Great Britain team have often been merely minnows compared to the likes of Canada and Finland. In sports betting, Britain has some of the worst chances of winning the IIHF World Cup in 2024.
Jackson is one of England’s greatest-ever hockey players, and perhaps he could have easily taken another career path earlier on. The legendary sportsman could have spearheaded his nation’s ice hockey World Cup efforts as opposed to being a star of the national field hockey team.
But as it was to be, field hockey took precedence for a majority of Jackson’s career. He played in many major tournaments and several Olympic games for England and Team GB. His first major success came just two years into his international career in 2009 as he won gold at the EuroHockey Nations Championship with England.
Jackson played in three consecutive Olympic games for Team GB between 2008 and 2016, the best finish was in London in 2012, where he helped them to fourth place. He also contributed to England’s podium finish at the Commonwealth Games of 2014 as England won bronze.
Jackson’s venture into ice hockey
The England record goalscorer took his first steps into ice hockey in 2014 when he joined Invicta Dynamos of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) in his home nation. At this point, field hockey was still his primary focus. However, on a part-time contract, he netted four goals and got four assists for the club in 2014/15.
Jackson played a full season with the Dynamos in 2016/17, that time around he managed 24 goals and 30 assists in 30 appearances. His efforts earned him a place in the NIHL South 1 All-Star Team. He split the following semi-pro ice hockey season between the Dynamos as well as Basingstoke Bisons, in which he most notably scored 36 points in 25 appearances for the former.
Ever since Jackson has maintained his exploits on the ice alongside his field hockey career. He has gone on to have another spell with the Dynamos as well as three stints with the Raiders over the past few years.
Jackson has undoubtedly established himself as one of the leading players in England’s semi-pro ice hockey scene. His ice hockey venture perhaps comes too late for him to go abroad and reach the professional stage of the game.
He is simply a legend of England field hockey that has later proven that he can more than hold his own in the other variant of the sport. Few players have expressed the versatility of talent that Jackson had.