by Gavin Featherstone
Gavin Featherstone, Britain's most experienced hockey coach and former national team captain is widely known throughout the game for his club and international coaching of squads as diverse as the USA, Sapura H.C. in Malaysia, England's U21 teams and South Africa. He coached over 25 teams to national titles, led continental champions and served as Head Coach to three World Cup and two Olympic squads. Yet, the book is much more than a commentary on the sport as it explores a career that captures the spirit of field hockey, both on and off the field and highlights his clashes with its rigid hierarchies. He vividly exposes a field hockey world of great diversity with colorful personalities like Mr. Fixit, Big Ron, My LearnED Friend, the Kokas and Handgun Harriet, all of whom played an influential role in the development of the game worldwide. Surviving a rough end London council estate and going on to play junior football for Chelsea FC, he describes a fascinating 1960's world with both relish and trepidation. Then pushed out of football by a zealous Headmaster, he won places to study at Durham and Oxford Universities. Bans, boycotts, Hollywood, Bollywood and cross dressing FIH executives all play their part as he tells the story of how he was tipped for his services by James Bond, how Chris Martin, the lead man of the band Coldplay had rejected his field hockey coaching for a career in music, and how Gavin had rolled into World War II in Occupied Holland as an Allied Tank Commander. Meanwhile, back in England, he is pursued by the Liverpool and Manchester United management for his newly marketed sporting aid. As attractive as this sounds for his career, he was soon to be cautioned by the Vice Squad in Piccadilly Circus in London's Soho for selling videos. Field Hockey videos!! He spearheaded professional coaching across the continents, continues to be one of the leading pioneers in the use of synthetic turf, and has been at the focal point in the development of modern video technology right through to the present day.