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Masters hockey is thriving and Brian Stokes couldn’t be happier

Gloucester > Sport > Hockey

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 24th October 2018, 09:00

Gloucestershire’s Masters hockey team have enjoyed great success Gloucestershire’s Masters hockey team have enjoyed great success

Brian Stokes has just turned 69 but he’s living proof that age is no barrier to playing sport.

Brian is a very keen hockey player – he still plays for Gloucester City – and he also plays masters hockey, something he is very keen to champion in this county and beyond.

So keen, in fact, is he to publicise all that is good about masters hockey that he got in touch with The Local Answer so that we could help him spread the word.

Brian has been playing masters hockey for the best part of a decade – “As far as I’m concerned it’s for people who are 60-plus,” he said – and he has no intention of stopping any time soon.

These days he plays for Gloucestershire’s masters team, a team who were good enough to finish runners-up in this year’s national masters cup competition.

They won five games on the way to the final which they played against Surrey at the Olympic hockey stadium at Lee Valley.

“Gloucestershire have done very well in the tournament for the past five or six years,” said Brian with some pride.

Brian is a very decent player – he was good enough to play for Gloucestershire back in the day – and his love of all things masters hockey is obvious.

“I belong to a national club called The LX Club – that’s Roman numerals for 60,” explained Brian, who these days is a defender. “They’ve got 300 members and we play all over the country and in international tournaments all over the world.”

And that’s not all because Brian has also been a regular member of England’s masters set-up as well.

“I had three years with England’s over-60s and three years with the over-65s,” he said.

“We’d play in World Cups and European Championships. I played in Singapore, Cape Town, Belgium, Holland a couple of times, Germany.”

So where was his favourite destination?

“Singapore,” he said, “that was fantastic. It’s a completely different culture and it’s a great opportunity to do some sightseeing.”

And while the aim is obviously to have fun, there’s a serious side to the hockey as well and these sorts of trips are always more fun when you win.

“I’ve just come back from Barcelona with The LX Club,” Brian said. “We won the B team World Cup.

“When we went to Cape Town with England’s over-60s we won the gold medal and we the over-60 Asian Games gold medal in Singapore. Most of my medals are gold!”

Brian is clearly having a ball and he’d like more former hockey players who have retired to get their sticks out and start playing the game again.

“The aim of masters hockey is to get the over-60s back playing again,” he said.

“Hockey is a sport that you can take up at eight and you can play it forever providing you’ve got the enthusiasm.

“For the older players it’s a great way to keep fit – and in masters hockey we certainly don’t walk, we run! We play a decent quality of hockey.

“At the European and world championships we play our matches over seven or eight days so we’re in another country for a decent period. The wives come with us as well so it’s very sociable.”

The Gloucestershire masters team is organised by Newent’s Nick Grimshaw and the squad includes players from Lansdown, Gloucester City, Stroud, Cirencester and Newent.

Brian is playing for Gloucester’s 3rd XI this season having joined the club way back in 1985 when his job as a civil servant saw him make the short journey up the M5 from Bristol to Gloucester.

Before that he had played for Bristol where he was also a first-teamer.

He played for Gloucestershire for some six years, making his debut at the age of 21, and also captained Gloucester’s 2nd XI in yesteryear.

In those days he’d play in midfield as well as defence, but it’s not just as a player that Brian has left his imprint on hockey in this part of the world because he has also coached the juniors at Gloucester and is also an umpire.

“My wife says I live and breathe hockey,” laughed Brian.

Fortunately his wife Viv is very understanding because she herself is a former hockey player.

“We met through hockey,” said Brian. “She used to play for Redland Ladies in Bristol when I was at Bristol, she was a forward.”

So with Brian being a defender, did they ever go head to head in a mixed hockey match?

“No,” laughed Brian, “we played in the same mixed team which was how we met.”

And if they had played on opposite sides, who was the better player?

“Me by miles,” said Brian, still laughing.

And hockey has become very much a family affair for the Stokes family because a couple of years ago Brian played a season in the same Gloucester side – the 4ths – as his son Jaime and grandson Joe.

Joe, 16 and a pupil at St Peter’s School in Gloucester, is a striker and has, says his proud grandad, “got potential”.

He has been training with the 1st XI this season, so how does he compare with his grandad as a player?

“He’s quicker than me but he still can’t get past me,” laughed Brian.

Other Images

Brian Stokes playing for England’s over-60s against Australia in Cape Town when they won gold
Brian Stokes with son Jaime and grandson Joe at Gloucester City

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