My Life In HOCKEY

The Hockey Paper - - FEATURE | CHRISTMAS SPECIAL - This week... PHIL GOODERHAM Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham women’s coach

Iac­tu­ally ap­plied for the po­si­tion of men’s coach at Birm­ing­ham Univer­sity, but Mal­colm Wood got it ahead of me and they of­fered me the women’s team in­stead – what a de­ci­sion that turned out to be!

We have had some great play­ers, like Susie Gil­bert, So­phie Bray and Sarah Hay­croft, who went on to play se­nior in­ter­na­tional hockey, and I don’t think there is any club in the top divi­sion with­out a player from Birm­ing­ham Univer­sity there. It has been a real suc­cess story.

That year we got pro­moted into the Premier Divi­sion in 2008 stands out; we are still the only girls’ side to have ever done that. We keep prov­ing peo­ple wrong ev­ery year.

I got into hockey in the 1960s. My dad, Roy, used to run a hockey team at a fac­tory in Wolver­hamp­ton. He used to play and run it, and my mum made the teas so I was hooked and grew up around the game.

I went to state schools. I played a lot of cricket and foot­ball, and ac­tu­ally stopped play­ing hockey – be­cause there wasn’t any.

I had to make a choice when I was about 16. I started play­ing again for Wom­bourne, and it got to the stage where I could not jug­gle it all.

In those days, the struc­ture was very dif­fer­ent in hockey. I played for my club, and then in­ter­county hockey for Stafford­shire. The game changer was the Na­tional League and I went and joined Can­nock.

That first year, in 1988, I was there when we got pro­moted into the top divi­sion and the club did not get rel­e­gated un­til last sea­son – show­ing just how good they were for so long.

I was in the au­tumn of my ca­reer when the Na­tional League started but it was fan­tas­tic to play at that level. I am very proud of be­ing at the club in those early years, know­ing that we all helped to get it where it is to­day.

That first year was un­be­liev­able. It was the stand-out sea­son for me and we had a few par­ties to cel­e­brate pro­mo­tion!

The stan­dard in the top divi­sion was very good and it was a great op­por­tu­nity for me to play there – it may have come to­wards the end but it makes me more re­lieved in many ways.

We had some great play­ers too, like Ben Sharpe – who was just com­ing through. It was awe­some to see that tran­si­tion at Can­nock be­cause all us old guys could see the great fu­ture it had.

I did some um­pir­ing for a cou­ple of sea­sons and al­ways en­joyed coach­ing younger play­ers. I started do­ing bits and bobs at Can­nock and my two sons, An­drew and Stu­art, were com­ing through the ranks there and start­ing to play the game – so I stayed and coached.

Grad­u­ally, I started to help more at Can­nock with ju­nior play­ers and then I started to take charge of the set-up and it pro­gressed from there.

My play­ing ca­reer was me­an­der­ing to a nat­u­ral con­clu­sion in the early 1990s, and coach­ing in hockey was not such a big thing.

In the early 2000s I opted to be­come self­em­ployed in fi­nance but coach­ing was slowly tak­ing over my life. When I stopped play­ing I re­mem­ber wor­ry­ing about how I would get the same sort of en­joy­ment – but coach­ing is def­i­nitely as good and you get more en­joy­ment from see­ing oth­ers make it.

At Birm­ing­ham, it is tough as we have such a high turnover of play­ers. But we have the right cul­ture there and it is all about de­vel­op­ment and pre­par­ing.

We plan a cou­ple of years ahead and we know who is go­ing to leave and when, so we are al­ways ready for any sit­u­a­tion.

It is why we have lasted in the big league for so long. Suc­cess breeds suc­cess and it is why lots of play­ers to come and play for

us.

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