Hockey jockeys

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McShane_PPDrs Damian McShane and Stewart Ryan played hockey together as students at the University of Melbourne. Thirty years later, they’re teammates once again

Dr Damian McShane (left), East Bentleigh Veterinary Clinic, East Bentleigh, VIC

“I first met Stewart in 1983 when were students at Melbourne University. We were both living at Ormond residential college and we were both starting first-year veterinary science. We were also keen hockey players and joined the university team. Stewart was the goalkeeper and I was a halfback.

“Once we left the residential college, we joined the vet school team that played against the large residential colleges. There were only 48 of us in the vet school but we managed to scrape together a team to make it all the way to the grand final.

“I’ve played hockey my whole life and now compete in an over-35s team. Mind you, most of the blokes are in their mid-forties or early fifties. For some reason, hockey seems to be a sport that people keep playing into their dotage. At some point over the past 25 years, I’ve played with everyone in my team.

“And now Stewart is back in goal. It’s like the completion of a great circle. We have a rule that once we’re five-nil up, Stewart is allowed to take off his pads, come out of goal and run around on the field. It’s like watching a puppy let off the leash, though he has managed to get a few goals.”

Dr Stewart Ryan (right), University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC

“After university, Damian and I took very different career paths. He went into private practice while I undertook specialty practice, working in Hong Kong and the USA. I was overseas for 18 years but kept in touch with Damian back in Melbourne. Our families would catch up when we visited Australia.

“When I returned to Australia for good in 2012, I started playing hockey in a summer league with Damian. In no time, he roped me into playing the winter league too and it’s been great fun. It’s very much the same sort of team in which I played at university—just a little older and greyer.

“We did pretty well in this year’s competition. We had a chance at getting to the grand final but lost the semi-final and finished fourth—as usual.

“I enjoy hockey because, as well as being a skilful and tactical game, it’s a really good social game. We play to win but we still like to go out and have fun. Having a beer after the game is often a highlight. Now that we’re playing in the older guys’ league, if 80 per cent of us don’t pull a hammy during the game, that’s considered a success.”

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