Aug 12 2012 By Paul Warburton
THE Ealing hockey girls want another shot at Olympic glory following a deserved bronze in Friday’s sweltering heat.
But, and it’s a big but, Hannah Macleod and Anne Panter need the grants from the Team Ealing and UK Sport just to survive.
At one end of Olympic Park there’s fabulous Mo Farah writing his own cheques when it comes to future appearances on the track.
At the other, there are hockey players getting by on £16k-a-year.
A bit more luck and they might have been in line for the same colour of medal as the Hounslow hero. But although it’s 10-minute walk from Stratford track to Stratford pitch, it might as well be a million miles when it comes to funding.
One of the volunteers, and they have been marvellous for the most part, wanted me to walk just a little less, or so it seemed it at first glance, just to get into hockey’s Riverbank Arena before Team GB’s 2-1 win over New Zealand.
Let me explain.
Here am I at the end of the road next to the Main Press Centre. Across it, 20 yards away is the media entrance to the hockey.
Can I cross it and go straight in? Of course not.
I have to go off way into the distance down the road and cross a footbridge for my ‘own safety.’
“What safety?” asks I.
“Because of the traffic,” says Mr Unhelpful.
“But there isn’t a car in sight, and I have been crossing roads for decades – and here I am large as life.”
“But those are the rules,” he says, dodging to his right, assuming I am going to make a rugby break for the entrance.
Along comes a group of three foreign journalists who make to cross the road.
‘You can’t do that…” is as far as our jobsworth gets as they blithely ignore him and press on.
“Sorry…” says I, “and follow them.
Only occasionally, and this was one of them, has that slightest of irritating punctilious British traits surfaced during the last fortnight.
Wouldn’t it be marvellous if after Monday, there was only one grating moment out of hundreds where ‘customer service’ was found wanting?
Now, that would be a legacy to be proud of.