Allan Blackburn column

Owner of GB Antiques Allan Blackburn with some of the Pendlefin figures.
Owner of GB Antiques Allan Blackburn with some of the Pendlefin figures.

People often ask me if I am passionate about anything in my life other than antiques.

My first answer is of course my lovely family, but I do have another love: hockey.

It’s a huge part of my life as I’ve been playing hockey since 1963 and only retired from the game in 1997.

My son, Jimmy, also played up until three years ago and even though I don’t play anymore, I still spend a lot of time with my old hockey pals and keep my eye on the games.

I am part of a group of retired players who meet once a month and still have fun together.

There are about 20 of us that get together and we call ourselves “The Old Fogies”.

Whilst it might not be quite as energetic as hockey, we organise activities like golfing days, trips out and crown green bowling matches.

We meet on the first Monday of the month, have lunch and put the world to rights.

There’s certain lunches at the club where we get to watch the first team play and we all enjoy watching, these days, rather than playing.

I started as a boy playing both hockey and rugby.

I played for the Preston Grasshoppers for a short time, but I had a fall on hard ground and injured my elbow quite badly.

The doctor advised me to leave rugby and concentrate on my hockey and that’s what I did.

I feel privileged to have played hockey as it’s really only played at private schools.

I played for Preston at West Cliff, after starting at Leys School in Cambridge.

I think there are only a handful of schools that teach mens’ hockey now and most of these are in the south of England.

You tend to find the ex-players are all of a similar ilk having attended private school and are now solicitors, accountants and businessmen.

We all get on really well, have lots in common and are never short of something to say.

These are lasting friendships. My solicitor of 40 years is a hockey man and at our wedding anniversary party and my 65th party, a high proportion of the guests were families I’ve met and known through the hockey club.