Down with the Hockey Temperance League!

Look, I don’t see it as my job to be socially responsible. I never asked to be a role model, as other maligned celebrities such as footballers, Natalie Portman and Jessica Rabbit have long maintained.

So here’s the thing: I want all you Melbourne hockey players to drink more on a Saturday night.

I want you guys who can really play to spend more time getting maggoted of a Saturday evening, truly donning those beer goggles, so that you’re in absolutely no fit state to, say, as a completely random example, attend an 8.30 am Stick & Puck session on a Sunday morning.

Is that too much to ask? I’ll even buy the first beer … before slipping away like smoke into a flame, as Paul Kelly sang (“Jundamarra“), to ensure I get a good night’s sleep, ready for, say, as a random idea, a Sunday morning Stick & Puck session.

How the rink was supposed to look when we arrived on Sunday morning.

As you may have guessed by now, my Sunday didn’t go according to plan. Showing admirable dedication to the sport, my puck buddy (yes, that was a ‘p’) Alex McNab vowed she was attending the 8.30 am Stick & Puck, pre-starting Intermediate tomorrow night. Her sister, Scarlett, declared that she was also in and, damn it, so was I. (Big Cat Place’s reply: “You’ve got to be kidding?”)

What the McNabs and I hadn’t counted on was turning up to find the Henke Rink logjam full of players, many of whom were clearly advanced players using the session for intense one-on-one defending/attacking drills, end-to-end skating and other high-standard drills; stuff that left us Rookies with very little clear ice on which to practice passes or, in my case, fall over. (Right-foot front-foot outside-edge turn getting ever closer.)

I’d gotten home at about 1.30 am the night before, after making the ill-advised decision that riding my pushbike to a party in Reservoir wouldn’t be much of a ride from my place. Ten mostly uphill kilometres later, I was ready for a drink and several whiskies later, I made the excellent decision to escape before the karaoke machine in the front room claimed my soul, or at least my dignity.

The ride home contained a whole bevy of adventures not related to a hockey blog, but the bottom line is that the alarm sounding at 7.30 am was a shock. Undaunted, I vaulted out of bed. The dream of clear ice, of an empty training session where I could skate free, the breeze in my helmeted hair, was too inviting.

How hockey players should spend Saturday nights ...

Right up until we walked in and saw the ice was packed.

So, I mean, really, hockey players. Get it together. Do I need to spell this out to you?

Hockey is a working class, blue-collar, hard-drinking, fighting, cussing, rough-and-ready sport. There is no place in the game for disciplined trainers who are clear-eyed and ready to skate just after dawn on a Sunday. OK?

Glad we’re clear on that. Enjoy your Sunday sleep-in. Or else.

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