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.