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George Hazell, from Bury St Edmunds, helps organise historic first-ever over-80s hockey international between England and Holland

Bury St Edmunds’ George Hazell hopes the historic first-ever over-80s international will be the first of many involving England Over-80s, writes Alex Moss.

George Hazell (back row, far left) and the rest of the England Over-80s team
George Hazell (back row, far left) and the rest of the England Over-80s team

Hazell, a member of Bury St Edmunds Hockey Club, along with a Dutchman, Walter Hagedoorn, helped organise a match between England and Holland, which is believed to have been the first over-80s international in hockey.

The two sides played two matches in Breda, with the first finishing 0-0 and the second won by England 1-0.

“I got in contact with Walter, from Holland, about doing it and I obtained approval from England Hockey and he obtained approval from Dutch Hockey,” Hazell said. “We’ve played against most of the Dutch players while playing for the Over-60s, Over-65s, Over-70s and Over-75s, and it gives us a future.

“We played two games and the real important one was the first one, which finished 0-0, although we did have a disallowed goal, which was a bit contentious!

“The second game finished 1-0 to England and the plan is for England to be the hosts next year.”

Hazell has played hockey for a “lifetime” and for Bury for 50 years, more recently for the club’s men’s VI team, which is a mixture of old and young players.

“It’s good exercise and I like the competition personally,” he said when asked what it is that has kept him playing the sport.

“I’m very competitive, but I also like that you can meet new friends when you play different teams.”

Hazell was unable to play against Holland after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in early March, but he was still involved as he acted as the England manager for the two matches.

After having an operation at the end of March, Hazell is hoping to represent England Over-75s in the Grand Masters European Hockey tournament in Belgium next month.

Hazell’s Bury club-mates Alan Dures (England Over-75s), John Grinham (Over-70s), Tony Bass and Mark Dykes (both Wales Over-55s) are also set to feature in the event.