Video: Our man tries his hand at hockey goalkeeping

Ipswich men’s hockey goalkeeper Ben Glading has gained a reputation for saving penalty strokes. Would sports reporter Nick Garnham be able to rise to the challenge of scoring against him – and how would he fare as a goalkeeper trying to save them?

IF ONLY the 2012 Olympic Games had been held in England this year and not next summer!

As someone fortunate enough to have successfully secured tickets to attend one of the hockey sessions, I might have been better prepared for the task that lay ahead.

Taking penalty strokes may appear simple enough, but for someone who has not picked up a hockey stick for 35 years, I can assure you it isn’t!

Trying to get both power and placement when taking a penalty stroke is not as easy as I thought it would be.

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Ben Glading, who has saved seven of the last 10 penalty flicks he has faced, did not really have to stretch himself too much in every sense of the word to keep out my rather feeble efforts.

Beforehand I backed myself to score at least a couple of my 10 attempts past the 21-year-old Ipswich men’s team’s last line of defence at the club’s Tuddenham Road ground, situated just a couple of hundred yards from where I played my only ever hockey as a pupil at Northgate School.

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Sad to say, I failed to open my account – and to think it was all being videoed for our website only added to my humiliation.

At least I managed to get them all on target – failure to do even that would have rendered me no chance of finding the net – but my lack of technique was all too obvious when it came to trying to obtain both power and placement.

After drawing a blank trying to score past Ben, could I possibly redeem myself saving any of his penalty strokes?

As I donned Ben’s goalkeeping gear to face 10 penalty strokes from the man more accustomed to saving them, I thought at least I could not do any worse than my efforts at scoring past him. Or could I?

When his first penalty stroke flew high over my left shoulder and into the top corner of the goal I thought I may end up being equally unsuccessful between the posts.

Ben actually ‘only’ managed to score eight – one flew wide of the goal and another one I saved, the ball somehow avoiding all my padding and cracking me on the inside of the knee.

I managed to dive the right way for all bar two of his penalty strokes, and actually got a hand to a couple of them but was unable to keep them out.

At least I have got the consolation of being able to see how the experts do it when I take my seat at next summer’s Olympics . . .

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