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Anyone who infers field hockey is a soft game should try standing three feet away from a player clubbing the ball downfield. Or maybe have a go at keeping goal, where even the mask and protective gear is no guarantee of safety.
Hockey, or games like it, has been played for centuries, millennia even, but the modern game like football and rugby came out of the British public school system, refined by clubs and formalised by the founding of the Hockey Association in 1886.
Britain dominated the first Olympic hockey competition, but then we did provide four of the six teams France and Germany sent the others. That gold for GB (England) in 1908 was followed by another in 1920. More recently we took bronze in 1984 at Los Angeles and gold in Seoul in 1988 where they beat West Germany in the final 3 1. For a time hockey was more fashionable, even regularly seen on TV in the era before television executives decided 99 per cent of sports coverage should be devoted to football. And British hockey at that period had its own superstar, Sean Kerly, goal scorer extraordinaire (rivalled perhaps by teammate Russell Garcia, still the youngest British Olympic champion at 18 years three months).
The sport may not feature much (at all) on TV, but it is thriving at club level, with the indoor version of the game offering different challenges for different conditions: both the indoor and outdoor game are fast paced, though clubs often have various teams to allow for differences in expertise, fitness and even age. And as an amateur game for players without pretensions to winning great riches hockey retains a friendly ethos of fair-play.

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