Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A Painful return to Lacrosse

Back to Lacrosse

Many years ago my late father played hockey at boarding school; by all accounts he was rather good at it.
Then one day someone said to him ‘do you fancy playing hockey in the air’. He picked up a lacrosse stick and never looked back.

We played for Buckhurst Hill lacrosse club for many years and even turned out for some representative teams in his youth.

Therefore when I was old enough a lacrosse stick was thrust into my hands and I was taught to cradle.

I progressed through the youth ranks at Buckhurst Hill and played in over 100 games for the club before graduating to the men’s team. I played in numerous positions and scored a few goals to boot. What’s more I even played for the Junior South of England team and scored against Wales on my debut when we won 3-1. To top that off I went to Denmark to play in the 1996 Worlds junior games which really was a farcical tournament.

By the year 2004 I was at my peak in the sport running my university team and playing regularly for Bucks. That year we lost in the Flags final (South of England cup) in overtime against Oxford University.

The years went by and I continued to play. But my heart was no longer in it. It wasn’t because my father had passed away or that I was no longer sporty or motivated. It was simply that I had just fallen out of love with the sport.

Therefore I drifted away from the sport and disappear to far flung corners of the world and travelled. When I returned I did not have that urge to play regularly and lost contact with most of the team. The urge to play sport however was still strong and I returned to rugby which is a decision I do not regret.
Since 2005 I must have played once for Buckhurst hill and I think that was in 2007. Although I am unsure and my recollection is hazy.

A few people always badgered me to come back and I always considered it. It is a shame that the rugby and lacrosse seasons run parallel and therefore you cannot do both.

Buckhurst Hill lacrosse club, my old club were celebrating their centenary last year and I received an invite to play in a specially arranged tournament. As the tournament was on the 1st April it was just after our regular rugby season. I jumped at the chance to play again and ran to the shed to find my kit.
Stick, check. Helmet and gloves and other pads check. Sadly in my haste I forgot my box. This would be a decision I would live to regret.

I arrived and it was great to see some of the old gang and many new faces and I was thrust into the action. I played in our first game as we drew 3-3 with Portsmouth University.

When the game was over some of the spectators approached me and we delighted that it was me under the helmet. Comments like ‘You play like your father’ and ‘you have your fathers legs’ were both complimentary and rather strange at the same time.

The next game we played York University and we won 7-3. I was getting back into the swing of things and had a few good runs in attack.

This put us in to the final against York again. The game was going well and I even scored my first goal with a well-timed shot and was as pleased as punch as it was the first time I had hit the back of the net in lacrosse since the 2004/05 season (the last regular season I played).

The game was heading into overtime as the scores were level. I collected the ball with my back to goal. Cradled the ball and went to turn and shoot.

Then the agony, the pain and sick feeling in the pit of your stomach hit me.

A low swiping check aimed at the butt end of my stick came flying in. It missed my stick but connected superbly with my gentleman’s region.

The pain was excruciating. I crumpled onto the floor in an instant.

Some guys on the side lines commented that they thought I had snapped my achilles the way I fell.

I couldn't move and was helped off the pitch and remained motionless, breathless and sick for a good 40 minutes. We lost the game in overtime 11-9 but I wasn't caring about the score anymore.

My hastily collection of my kit minus my box had paid a price and that price would be a trip to the doctors the next day where he had very soft hands!

I have played rugby for many years and lacrosse for many years before that and sustained some very spectacular injuries but nothing compares to having a testicle balloon and swell because of a savage swipe.

So there you have it, I paid with pain on my return to a sport which I once played regularly. I still consider going back to play but for now rugby has my heart.

Taken before I was 'incapacitated' by a low check!
Maybe one day I will return; rest assured if I do I will find that box in the shed if it is the last thing I do!

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