Didi requested that I bring an English team to take part in his “Retirement” tournament in Hannover which was to take place over the England Bank Holiday weekend of 22nd to 24th August.  The request was to bring the England team that played in the World Cup in Kualar Lumpur in 2002 when I was captain of the Grand Masters and he the captain of the German team.  He obviously chose that particular tournament because the Germans were victorious on that occasion but not the 1998 World cup when England were !  From the England squad of 14 only seven are still playing. Dominic Bann, Tony Henman, Hugo Rowbotham, Leon Mack, Tim Pollard, Laurie Alcock ( Tony Henman had to drop out at a late stage).  The party travelling as an LX team with two guest players was therefore made up of Over 75 and Over 70 players who had got to know Didi on previous occasions.  As five matches instead of the original three were scheduled in the progamme over 3 days, the squad was increased from 12 to 14 players (4 of whom were in various stages of recovering from doctored knees or achilles heel problems) so painkillers were the order of the day for some.  As to be expected Didi had gone to considerable length to organise the tournament and off the field activities in order to make the occasion one to remember. Even took the trouble to arrange cars to transport our 21 strong party to & from the airport.

On arrival it was realised that there would only be one game per day so with so many partially injured players that made things a little easier.  The opening match was between Didi’s team and LX and an honourable draw of 1 all was the outcome. A precise pass from Percy Steele gave me the chance to slot home the first goal of the tournament.  Didi was instrumental in obtaining the goal to level the score through a short corner.  The Saturday fixture between LX and a younger Dutch team probably mostly of 65 age group proved to be a closely contested match ,which the Dutch won 2 to 1. Percy produced an unstoppable penalty flick and LX then began mounting further attacks on the Dutch defence.  On one occasion the ball was lifted deftly over the keeper into the goal but the German Umpire found a strange reason to disallow it because he stated that he could not see whether it might have gone over the back line shortly before Peter Danson had put the ball in the net. The umpire did add later that LX had had a number of scoring chances which should have been converted previous to this incident and then there would not, in his opinion, have been an issue!!

The final match between Alliance which also had some younger players and LX resulted in a win for LX although Alliance scored first.  Peter Danson put in  one goal.  Dominc Bann coming back from substantial bypass surgery some few months earlier eventually found his goal scoring touch and claimed two goals, one from an assist from Peter Hollebon. who then went on later to score himself. So the match ended LX 4, Alliance 1.

Barrie Roberts wife Jean (a qualified umpire) performed admirably with the whistle throughout the tournament which was much appreciated by Didi as organiser and the players themselves.

Although the weather was changeable all three matches were played without rain but the barbeque on the Friday evening was not so lucky. The Saturday evening Candle Light diner was a high quality buffet with a range of speeches which praised Didi for his lengthy involvement in Masters hockey.  LX presented Didi with two different colour K L shirts with 2002 emblems on them, a Junior Olympic white jacket, and a presentation plaque kindly donated by David Gill.with a photo of Didi and the wording beneath. “From the LX Club, ENGLAND to Didi in recognition of his outstanding playing record for German National Teams and great contribution to Masters Hockey in general”.  Tim Pollard personally added another KL shirt with the LX emblem on it to add to Didi’s impressive collection at his home.

It was obvious that Didi was deeply touched by the accolades that were said and gifts presented to him.

The party of 22 comprised :-

Tim Pollard, Hugo & Gloria Rowbotham, Leon & Ena Mack, Gilbert Grace, Laurie Alcock, Percy Steele & Thelma, Peter & Sue Danson, David Young, Bryan Heelis, Peter Hollebon, Gerald & Birgit Wilkinson, Brian & Jennifer Woolcott, Dominic & Ursula Bann, Barrie & Jean Roberts.

Gerald Wilkinson in compiling this report thanks the LX participants including a number of supporting ladies for making the organising of the tour so hassle free.