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.”
Welcome to Vimps at the Hockey
Powered by Cricket-Hockey.com, the hockey equipment specialists in Downton, Salisbury