The last hockey game
22 April 2020
YUNGABURRA - I remember the date of my last hockey game as it was the same day as the more famous Live Aid concert - 13 July 1985.
My wife had gone to her village, Tubusereia, for the weekend and I was to play hockey and then go to a friend’s place to watch the concert live.
I also remember the date as it also relates to my favourite memory of Dr Jim Jacobi. Recently there have been some photos and memories of Dr Jacobi on Facebook and I have my own story to tell.
Dr (Jabber Jim) Jacobi was my doctor and I was a regular patient as, in my first few years of lie in Papua New Guinea, every little scratch or sore seemed to get infected.
I would go to his surgery for treatment and never seemed to fail to come away without an injection of Lincomycin.
It’s hard to imagine now but the Hubert Murray Stadium #2 ground at Konedobu used to have two excellent grass pitches where the hockey competition was held every Saturday during the dry season.
These days it’s a swamp because of the insufficient drainage under the Poreporena Freeway.
In the early 1980s there was a well organised hockey competition for both men and women in Port Moresby.
I joined the SP Bismark club in 1980 and played B Grade and sometimes A Grade. The team was sponsored by SP Brewery but most of the sponsorship money seemed to be used for purposes other than hockey as there was never any money even to buy match balls.
I wentg to a committee meeting once where the treasurer reported he had distributed all the funds as dinau [loans] and was awaiting reimbursement.
A new club, Rockets, started in 1982 and I played with it for the remainder of my time in Moresby. We had B Grade men’s and A and B Grade women’s teams and in 1984 I was asked to be the club coach.
It was a good family club. Many of the men had never played hockey before but joined to play alongside their wives and teenage children.
Like most Papua New Guineans they had good hand-eye coordination and, as well as skills, I taught them everything I knew about positional play and team effort.
In 1984 all three Rockets teams won premierships. I was particularly proud of the women’s A Grade team who kept out challenge after challenge from Sunam in the second half.
In 1985 the men’s team was promoted to A Grade and although we won some games we struggled against the higher skill level, particularly of Sunam.
Back to that 13 July. We were playing against University one of whose strongest players was Andy Taia, a big, strong policeman from Chimbu who could hit the ball with great force.
Uni had a five metre penalty just outside the circle and Andy strode up to take the hit. I was centre half, standing ready with my stick on the edge of the circle.
Rather than hitting the ball along the ground Andy chopped the ball and it flew at great speed straight towards my groin where it ricocheted off the inside edge of the stick and onto my testicles.
I dropped to the ground in agony and after a few minutes managed to hobble to the sideline.
After the game, with some assistance, I got to my car and drove to my old school and university friend Murray’s compound at Korobosea.
Not many people had access to the satellite that was broadcasting the Live Aid concert but it was available in Murray’s unit and I had arranged to spend the night there and watch it.
Murray took one look at me and recognised I was in shock. He suggested I take a warm bath and made me a cup of sweet, milky tea.
After this, and taking some Panadol, I was able to sit up and watch most of the concert although I was not interested in drinking any of the cold beer in the Esky. I must have been unwell.
My memories of the concert are vague, though I do remember Phil Collins playing in both Wembley and Philadelphia after catching the Concorde to cross the Atlantic. But I do not recall Freddie Mercury’s performance with Queen.
On the Monday morning my wife took me to see Dr Jacobi as I was still not well.
He asked me to lie on the bed after removing my shorts and underpants. On observing my left testicle which was by that time very swollen and black with bruising Dr Jacobi laughed and said, “I haven’t seen one that big in a long time.”
I did not laugh. He then asked the nurse to bring a syringe but when the nurse said there were no needles of that gauge in the surgery he asked for a scalpel and local anaesthetic as he wanted to prevent the testicle from bursting.
I can tell you that the local anaesthetic did not do much to stop the agony.
Dr Jacobi then referred me to see a surgeon at the general hospital.
As I lay on the examination bed in the ward in just my shirt, the surgeon, from India, removed Jacobi’s dressing and muttered, “Why did Dr Jacobi do this?” I had asked myself the same question.
The surgeon examined me and said the testicle was badly bruised but had not ruptured and that I still had one testicle which was in good health and could father many more children.
He gave me a support bandage and advised me to rest at home for a week.
My wife was pregnant at the time and we subsequently had two more children so I conclude the surgeon knew what he was talking about.
After the surgeon examined me there was a line of visitors to my bed, which was screened by faded laplap hanging from a wire. There was no privacy as the curtains did draw together very well.
All the visitors seemed to want to look at the white man’s left ball. They had not seen anything like it before. I was in too much pain to bother covering anything.
It took a week of rest before I was able to return to work. And I never played hockey again.
Laughed hard at this story! Thoroughly enjoyed the tone of humour in this piece. It's good to be reminded though that you're a happy bubu man today.
Good to read a different side of your history and what a remarkable achievement getting all three Rockets teams to win premierships. A lot of commitment and determination I assume.
I'm actually sharing your stories with former colleagues and they too enjoy reading about your experiences.
Posted by: Carol Aigilo | 05 May 2020 at 10:37 PM
Arthur, an interesting story about Adolf Hitler. It brings to mind the Fawlty Towers sketch with the visiting Germans in Basil Fawlty's restaurant.
The rules of hockey have changed significantly since I played and the bully-off is no longer part of the game.
Most hockey is now played on synthetic pitches and it is not so easy to "chop" the ball.
Port Moresby has an international standard hockey pitch that was built for the South Pacific Games.
I have a number of scars on my ankles where I was "taken out" by hockey sticks. It became interesting a few times whenever a fight broke out on the field with 22 men armed with hockey sticks. I would walk away and wait until it was all over.
Posted by: Graham King | 24 April 2020 at 09:15 AM
I remember our English Language teacher or Master as pedagogues were still called in the 1950s telling us that the only way to win in hockey was to foul an opponent without the referee spotting the infringement.
As an elite player in Welsh Hockey I guess he well knew the sport. A question: I heard a lady on TV say they no longer ‘bully-off’; is that correct Graham?
One of the most infamous characters on the world stage in the past century was Adolf Hitler. One of his attributes or rather missing attribute is that for some reason he only had one testicle.
I don’t know if that is a true story or mere British wartime satire denigrating your enemy’s leader. Apparently ex PM of Britain Harold MacMillan is alleged to have said that ‘I wish I had been more skilfull with a rifle aimed a little higher and shot Hitler dead in WW1 when our regiments were facing each other. It would have avoided WW2.
During my time at the Guards Depot in Caterham we paraded one Saturday for a visiting German General. Our marches were performed on the huge parade ground aided by a regimental Guards Band.
One march we all appreciated was ‘Colonel Bogey’ as in our minds we would sing the bawdy song ‘Hitler has only got one ball’. I imagine our NATO friendly visiting German General attending the parade was quite aware of the march’s WW2 connotations and perhaps winced inwardly.
I know that in the Depot at that time there were old soldiers who had fought in that war and lost comrades, family and friends in it. To me the visit of a German officer to our huge training establishment was the best argument against the futility of war.
That was reinforced when twenty three years later I sat on the verandah of the old convent overlooking Lavongai Bay. My companion was Bishop (later Archbishop) Karl Hesse. He was a few years older than me so had also survived the bombings of WW2. I think I am correct in saying he witnessed the horrors of Dresden.
As we gazed out onto the moonlit waters of the Bismarck Sea I said to him that life can be crazy. He asked me “Why was that?”
I explained “Bishop when we kids we were taught to hate Germans and I guess you hated us British too. Yet here we are having a friendly chat looking down on the old flight of concrete steps that lead down to the beach.
There are still some holes in the concrete that bear testimony to the bullets fired in hate by aircraft as they destroyed the old Mission building here.”
Facts check: USA as the World’s ‘good-guy’ spends as much on military as the next seven nations combined; while the ‘bad-guy’ China spends about a fifth of that.
In this time of a pandemic imagine if US$1.7 trillion expended in a year on the military was spent on health and welfare of the world.
Posted by: Arthur Williams | 23 April 2020 at 10:21 PM
Graham, sounds funny the ball landed on the ball creating a bigger ball people wanted to see through the curtains. But really sorry you suffered but still could bring forth children.
I lived at NBC's Wonga Training Centre at 5 Mile from 1977-78 and saw lively hockey games played every afternoon at the 5 Mile traffic lights opposite the Chinese restaurant and Loletta Girl's Hostel.
Now, I heard some Asian company has titles to these former recreational grounds. And I haven't seen hockey played in POM city since
Back to my Wonga days, we boys used to walk past the Loleto hostel and the girls would shout 'orange, orange, blue, blue ' depending on the color of shirt or trousers we wore, always teasing us.
One weekend we hosted a social night and invited the girls up. Too many girls came and we were too few boys. A friend of mine named Dominic from the Sepik tried his best to dance with many of them as possible. I was a chicken.
Funny how I can recall those happy days when Graham relates this sad tale: how he lost a testicle to the game he loved.
Posted by: Daniel Kumbon | 22 April 2020 at 06:54 AM