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Ireland: Tribute To A True Gentleman There are 4 comments on this articlex4
Irish Hockey
Irish Hockey
March 4, 2005 5 out of 5
News Letter, Ireland
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Nigel McCullough

The world of hockey is in mourning following the passing of Alvin Carson, aged 59, after a long but bravely borne illness.

Alvin was buried in Belmont Cemetery in Antrim on Monday afternoon in one of the largest funerals seen in the town in many years, testament to the popularity of, and respect for, a legend in the game.

Alvin was a character, a bit of a rebel at times, but nonconformist just for the devilment.

His early education in Massereene Primary and Ballymena Tech stood him in good stead but it was the university of life that made him one of the most articulate people you could wish to meet, capable of conversing on a wide range of subjects, a quality that endeared him to so many.

Hockey played a dominant part in his life, initially with his beloved Antrim and then Belfast YMCA.

He played many times for Ulster before winning his first Irish cap against West Germany in 1970. He played 90 times for Ireland all told and 10 for Great Britain, and was a member of the GB team in 1976 that waited in London airport for the call to replace Kenya in the Montreal Olympics. That call didn't come but it was one of very few disappointments in an other-wise glittering career.

However, when Alvin hung up his stick and put his goalkeeping pads in the attic, he took up and quickly excelled at umpiring. He umpired 19 international matches reaching FIH status and was highly regarded wherever he went.

During his illness, Alvin retained his sharp sense of humour, always tried to be upbeat and philosophical and in the end, despite tremendous suffering, never complained.

He was a fitness fanatic and often could have been seen pounding the streets of Antrim and the pathways along the Loughshore and the Sixmilewater.

Above all, Alvin Carson was a family man, taking care of his widowed mother Jane for many years which involved numerous trips in the camper van which was synonymous with Alvin.

Brother Crawford and sister-in-law Vina gave him so much love and attention that Alvin, at times, felt overwhelmed. His nephew and niece Glen and Samantha were the apple of his eye from the day they were born and he was so proud they had turned out to be such fine adults upholding the family tradition.

After the committal, Alvin's family, friends and colleagues went back to Muckamore Cricket Club for refreshments so diligently organised by his workmates from Muckamore Abbey and many stories were shared with affection.

My lasting memory, amongst many, of Alvin took place about three weeks before his passing. He remarked there was an awful thudding noise coming from the infamous camper van and he felt it was dying, too. Despite not being mechanically minded, we both inspected the van to MOT proportions by our standards, only to find some two- and- a- half hours later the problem was a hockey ball rolling about in the sink.

We will miss you, Alvin, I will miss you, goodbye to you my trusted friend.
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Comments on this article
Niall Sturrock
03-07-2005  8:00 am
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I can only re-iterate Nigel's comment about Alvin. We had the privilege of his company at many Glenfiddich tournament in Glasgow and enjoyed every moment both on and off the court.

We were to share a career highlight later when he umpired the 1991 World University Games hockey final when GB beat Germany 3-0. We enjoyed that match a number of times since over the 'occassional' beer.

Alvin was 'gentleman' who will be sadly missed but very fondly remembered.
The Glade
03-22-2005  5:10 am
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Scary Situation
It's an interesting and somewhat scary analysis of human nature that so many of us can come on here and slag eachother off post jibes at one another and poke fun at eachothers teams. This article has now been here for over three weeks and has attracted only one post.

I could not count myself as knowing Alvin really well but played in many Senior games with him behind the whistle. I always found Alvin to be an affable character who had the unique ability to take the heat out of situations simply and with out fuss and generally without throwing cards around. He understood players frustrations in the heat of the moment and more importantly understood what players were trying to achieve at any given time. Alvin umpired the game in a manner to assist and enhance it not to control it which sadly seems to be in vogue these days.

If we had more Alvins in the game it would be a better game to play and the hockey community is poorer for his passing.

Regards to Alvin's family circle
camper Van Man
03-23-2005  8:58 am
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Lessons to be learned
Have to agree with The Glade on it being a very sad inditement of Ulster hockey at present. I do however have a theory on it. The MAJORITY of the posts on this site are from jumped up schoolboys who never knew who Alvin was. It is also easier to take pot shots than to form any sort of post that shows an understanding of the history of Ulster hockey or what it means to some people. If this future generation show as much humility for their achievements in hockey as Alvin did then we are on to a winner. If they can put something back in to the game when they stop playing as Alvin did then Ulster hockey will continue to get stronger. Unfortunately this site and recent schools matches have shown that they are more concerned with themselves, putting others who are a 'sporting threat' down and believing that the holy grail and very purpose of playing hockey is some schools cup victory. Alvin played for GB many times and was top of his game. He would have little time for people so concerned with winning and running down others to the detrement of all the other things hockey can bring to your lives.
Alvin R.I.P
To Nigel, an excellent piece of writing and an excellent funeral
David D
03-25-2005  7:10 am
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I don't visit this site very often and only happened across this article.

I had the pleasure of meeting Alvin but once, he had travelled to limerick to umpire in the Inter-Varsities tournament probably in 2000-01.

We met in the Kilmurray Lodge hotel where he was acaompanied by James O'Connor and other's whom i don't know and at this stage cannot remember.

He was a facinating man who puffed away contently on his pipe and spoke at ease with me, a complete stranger to him. I recall that we spoke freely about anything that took his fancy.

I can only imagine the loss that his friends and family feel with his passing.
He gave meaning to the term "Gentleman".

David
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