Hockey is my passion. There's nothing nicer than going out on a cool, crisp afternoon, and hitting a ball as hard as you can with a satisfying "thwack", so that it whisks down the pitch. Not quite leather on willow, because the balls are plastic these days, and the sticks are made out of aluminium. It's more of a "clunk" but it really is a great sensation.
I also love tackling, although other players can walk round me. And then I think one of the great pleasures of hockey is the session in the bar after the game, though such a thing is becoming a little more difficult to find. In the old days, when we played on grass, there'd usually be three teams playing on three pitches, and we'd all finish at the same time and go back and have Marmite sandwiches, but the tradition has been lost to the plastic pitch, which enables teams to play all day long, one after the other.
One of the greatest thrills I've had this season was when I played against my old college, St Catherine's. At half-time, the students kindly asked if I would join their team. So we swapped shirts, and I scored a goal for my college after 44 years, which was a tremendous moment.
Hockey is a wonderful sport. It's the last of the amateur team games, and is still played more or less by gentlemen - and ladies. On the down- side, you can hurt yourself quite badly. I started wearing shin pads after playing on a very bumpy pitch in Athens. A ball hit me on the leg and a lump came up the size of an orange. I suppose I'll have to stop playing one day - when I become like most umpires and can no longer see the ball.
An excellent Marmite open sandwich may be prepared by spreading goats' butter (or Dutch unsalted, in an emergency) thinly over a slice of walnut bread. Leave to settle in a cool place for at least five minutes; the Marmite may then be added, using a clean knife.Reuse content