When I was 13 I was
in the school’s First XI hockey
team – the youngest and at that point
the first ever junior to be in with the seniors.
We were playing the best school in the
league and in the final moments of the game
the ball was dragged back in front of me and
I stood on it, wrong-footed, beaten. And I
rolled my ankle really badly (as opposed to,
uh, rolling my ankle the good way…)
I hobbled to the car and was rushed to after-hours
emergency physio where it was strapped and I was
warned to not play on it for weeks. But this wasn’t
an option because I was off on the bus to New Plymouth
the very next day to be in a tournament for one of the
The physio suggested this was a very bad idea. The team
coach and manager thought it was probably still worth it –
besides the travel was a rest day. And the run of eight
or ten matches inside a week would be fine once I “got
So I sat in the van listening to AC/DC and Pink Floyd
and Stevie Ray Vaughan on my red Sony Walkman. Back
seat, my foot up, strapped, in agony.
I ran onto the field – with a slight limp – at 8am that next
morning and in the opening minutes I twisted the other
ankle. It was strapped on the side of the field and I played on.
Played every game – ice straight after, deep heat, rolls and
rolls of strapping tape. (And several spins of Pink Floyd and
AC/DC and Stevie Ray Vaughan).
It was brutal. And I thought I’d never be
in so much pain ever again – this was long
before finding myself near-unemployable and
almost laughably rejected from any job-app I
submitted, usually without interview.
But I do remember watching Big Trouble
In Little China. And the movie Crossroads. The
one where Steve Vai played the devil’s guitar-slinging
henchman. And The Karate Kid dug deep and used
his classical upbringing to pull a primitive musical
form into new and exciting shapes – with the off-camera
help of Ry Cooder.
I bought Passion and Warfare by Steve Vai and
the soundtrack to Crossroads by Ry Cooder on the
return home. Hobbling on both feet.
I still have both of those albums. I still love them. Even
if I can only listen to them now and then. Once a year
My hockey stick is long gone – haven’t owned one
for years. I picked one up sometime in the last decade.
It was as foreign as a gun. And I had no idea
what to do with it – where once I was such a good