Winchester’s Chris Jackson, pictured, is following in his father’s footsteps.
Exactly 50 years after his father and Trojans legend Alan Jackson represented Great Britain for the first time, Chris is playing for England in the 40’s hockey World Cup, ironically also in Australia.
He was due to pull on an England jersey for the first time when the six-nation tournament began in Canberra, writes Mike Vimpany.
England faced Malaysia, New Zealand, Barbarians, Australia and the USA in a testing week-long Over-40s competition.
Chris Jackson described it as “a great honour” to be chosen by England, whose selectors were impressed by his outstanding form for Winchester in South League hockey in recent seasons.
Chris admitted he picked up ‘the hockey bug’ from his father at a very early age.
“I had a stick in my hand almost as soon as I was able to walk,” he laughed. “My first stick was shaped more like a boomerang.
“The family lived and breathed hockey and I couldn’t have had a better mentor as dad was one of the best players in the country and a main player in that formidable Trojans side of the Sixties and Seventies.”
Chris didn’t take long to establish himself and spent 11 seasons playing alongside David Faulkner & Co for Havant in the National League, amongst spells in France with Racing Club and for Fremantle in Western Australia.
More recently, he’s been a tower of strength for Winchester, who have climbed out of Hampshire Regional League hockey and back into the South Premier Division 2.
Chris’s achievements sit well with father Alan, who was among the outstanding players his era and represented Great Britain six times in International matches against Australia half-a-century ago, back in 1966.
“It was all grass pitches in those days and we played on the Australian Test cricket ground outfields, which were hard and bumpy,” he recalled.
Alan picked up his first hockey stick as a 13-year old schoolboy – and only last season, at an amazing 75 years of age, hung up his boots after giving a lifetime to the game.
He played the bulk of his best club hockey on grass surfaces across the country and went on to play in numerous tournaments abroad for the England Masters and LX Club.
Fareham veteran Kevin Smith was on the spot as he helped England win Gold in the FIH Masters World Cup in Australia. The 52-year old converted a medal clinching second half penalty stroke to give England a 3-2 victory over Australia in the Over-50s tournament final in Canberra.
And Winchester’s Chris Jackson came within an ace of making it a local gold medal winning double.
He was in the England Over-40s side that led Australia 3-2 in the World final – only for the host nation to turn the tables and score twice in the last three minutes and win 4-3.
Smith, a fitness fanatic who plays regularly for Fareham thirds, played in every one of England’s six matches and converted penalty corners in the 14-1 thrashing of Canada and the 8-0 mauling of Germany.
England won all bar one of their six games in a hectic eight days – Australia beat them 4-3 in the group stages – but when it counted Smith’s team rose to the occasion and lifted the trophy.
They scored 35 goals in the five matches leading up to the final and then, in front of a partisan Canberra crowd, led Australia 2-0 through field goals by Andrew Batchelor early in each half.
When the Aussies clawed a goal back 15 minutes into the second period, it was all set for a nerve jangling finale.
But Smith took the sting out of the Australian fight-back four minutes later when England were awarded a penalty stroke, which he calmly rifled into the roof of the net.
“I was aware of the occasion, but it was just a case of composing myself and striking the ball where their keeper couldn’t get it,” said Smith, who regularly takes penalties for Fareham.
“To score the goal which clinched the gold medal for England was quite something and an occasion I’ll always remember.”
But as England celebrated winning the Over-50s World Cup, the 40s – whose ranks included Winchester’s Chris Jackson and Bournemouth short corner specialist Sam Bury – lost their final to Australia ... with just 28 seconds left on the clock !
Jackson reflected: “We all played exceptionally well in the final - to compete against the 2014 World Cup winners in their own back yard and be so close to victory was phenomenal.
“We soaked up a lot of pressure in the first two quarters of the game but only shipped one unlucky deflection. “Goalkeeper Simon Mason. who played in three Olympics, was superb in goal.
“We then really took the game to them in the third and fourth quarters and were leading 3-2 (Bury scoring the first two goals) with seven minutes to go.
“We held on well under increasing pressure from a desperate Australian side and after an umpiring decision at the other end was dubiously turned over they scored with only 2 minutes 30 seconds to go.
“Those last couple of minutes were fraught and another controversial decision let the Aussies into our D where they were awarded a match winning stroke with only 28 seconds left on the clock.
“To lose having led for so long was completely gutting as most of us had begun to believe we would actually be world champions.
“But it was not to be our day and to give them credit, the Australians were extremely humble in their victory, readily admitting they they had had a lucky escape against a better team.”
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