Swapping a hockey stick for a crozier

07 September 2018

The Bishop of Sherwood features in a new book about what ex-hockey players go on to do

DIOCESE OF SOUTHWELL & NOTTINGHAM

The Bishop of Sherwood, the Rt Revd Tony Porter (left) with the author, Gavin Featherstone

The Bishop of Sherwood, the Rt Revd Tony Porter (left) with the author, Gavin Featherstone

A BISHOP is featured in a new book about what people do after they put down their hockey stick.

The Bishop of Sherwood, the Rt Revd Tony Porter, stars in Hockey in the Blood, by Gavin Featherstone.

Bishop Porter said last Friday: “The book is about what happened to high-profile hockey players in the rest of their lives. It is funny, and tragic in places, particularly the chapter called ‘Canterbury Tales’.”

He is the subject of a chapter, “The Reverend Blue”, which tells the story of how he played for England Schoolboys and won an Oxford Blue before his sporting career was ended by injury.

Bishop Porter said: “Gavin and I played in the same schoolboy sides 46 years ago, and he is one of the best hockey coaches in the world now, and a brilliant writer. He rang me and said that he wanted to write about my post-career life; I think I’m the only bishop who was once high-profile hockey player.

“I had a number of injuries, but the worst was a blood clot in my leg after a collision — during the recovery I became a Christian, and I wanted to devote my life to ministry, particularly sports ministry. My sporting career went in a totally different direction.”

Mr Featherstone described his book as “a celebration of those events and personalities that have made, and do make, the game tick at all levels”.

Bishop Porter said: “I have an understanding of the pressures of elite-level sport, both from my hockey career and also from when I was a chaplain at Man. City. Since I’ve been the Bishop of Sherwood, I’ve appointed chaplains to the football teams in Nottingham and for Mansfield Town.”

He continued: “I find it easy to get access to people involved in sport, and having been an international athlete definitely helps with that. I’ve never been pushy — it is fairly obvious that I’m a Christian, but if you take your time and wait for questions to come, then you can talk to people about faith.

“Like anybody who finishes playing high-level sport, you miss the buzz and the dressing-room banter, but I’m still involved in sport and that banter. I had my 65th birthday party at Mansfield Town’s ground [Field Mill]. I’m still involved, and I love it.”

Hockey is “massive” now, Bishop Porter says, although he argued that he would not want to be involved in the modern game, despite the vast amount of money spent on players and facilities.

“There is no doubt about hockey’s resurgence: it is an international sport these days, and I’ve seen that in countries like New Zealand and South Africa. Hockey has a global reach; it is massive now. The modern world of sport is not one that I envy.”

Hockey in the Blood is published by Faaronheigt Publishing at £14.95.

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5 June 2019
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