By Gordon Pentecost and Warren Boden
It is with great sadness that the hockey fraternity learnt on Tuesday morning of the passing of Tony Godding.
Tony, affectionally known to all as Godders, loved hockey and made a huge contribution in so many spheres of the game.
He represented Border at provincial level and once he retired, he then immersed himself in all facets of the game.
He served as convenor of the National Men’s Selection Panel, National Men’s Under 21 Selection Panel and South African Schools Selection Panel. He was appointed Coach of the National Men’s Team and the National Under 21 Men’s team.
He also served on the South African Hockey Association Executive.
In his later years he devoted his time to school’s hockey in various capacities for Border Schools and then in particular for Selborne College. His coaching, knowledge and ability to understand and motivate young hockey players, had a massive impact on legions of Selborne Boys College players. His contribution to Selborne helped the school establish its reputation as one of the leading hockey playing schools in South Africa and the annual Selborne Hockey Festival was named “The Tony Godding Hockey Festival” in his honour- an accolade he so richly deserved.
He was an amazingly knowledgeable hockey man, who showed insight, wisdom and empathy with all the men who played in the teams he coached. Godders was a hockey encyclopaedia, who could remember hockey scores of most hockey world cup finals at the drop of a hat.
So, dedicated and committed was he that on the eve of a test match he had to settle his nerves with a Radox bath and several liquid tranquilizers. His pre-match talks were legendary as in those days there were no PowerPoint facilities or smart boards and they usually consisted of bottle tops being moved around the table with a trembling hand, but the message and tactics always hit the mark.
We had the privilege of serving on selection panels with Tony and being such a highly principled man, he made sure that every single player was considered thoroughly, before the final selection was made. His integrity was never questioned amongst coaches and players.
His contribution to Border hockey was immense, where his energy, administration, coaching and mentoring skills for more than 60 years was legendary and beyond equal.
I valued his wisdom and his friendship immensely and, on many occasions, when faced with a hockey related problem, I had no hesitation in phoning Tony, where he would listen carefully to the problem and then give me such wise council.
Tony was a legend in South African Hockey and the tributes which have poured in from hockey players throughout the country and abroad, bears testimony to the respect and love that they had for him.
He will be sorely missed but his memory will last forever.