Bill Colwill (right) receives the Doug Gardner Award in 2007.
Tributes from the hockey family around the world have poured in following the death of Bill Colwill, aged 86, at the weekend.
In a hockey career spanning over six decades Bill was involved in all aspects of the game and earned the highest respect from those who knew him. He was a sports journalist for many years, covering both domestic and international hockey, and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game.
Bill was born in Horrabridge, Devon, and educated at Tavistock Grammar School. His love of hockey started from a young age and, as a schoolboy, he saw Great Britain’s first Olympic medal at Wembley in 1948 and was also present reporting on their gold medal in Seoul in 1988.
His playing career was limited to his London University team Birkbeck College as cricket took precedence. He was an umpire to domestic divisional level, although he did have one international (Yugoslavia vs USA) at a Folkestone Festival.
Bill was Hockey Correspondent for the Independent from its first day of publication in September 1986 when he reported on England’s World Cup game against Argentina from Willesden. He covered Olympics, World Cups, Champions Trophy and Continental Cups and reported on hockey from all five continents having first started writing for the Observer in the early 70s.
In 2007 he received the world governing body FIH’s President’s Award for Hockey, presented by the then President Els van Brieda Vriesman of Netherlands.
He was an Associate Editor of the publications World Hockey and Hockey Sport and was a regular contributor and adviser for many years.
Bill was Treasurer of the Sports Journalists’ Association for 12 years, from 1994 to 2006, when he won the Doug Gardner Award for his outstanding contribution to the Association and sports journalism. He was made an honorary member of the SJA and continued as Membership Secretary for several years.
He was Secretary of the Hockey Writers’ Club from 1983 to 1995, then Chairman until 1999, and became a Vice-president in 2000. He edited 90 issues of the club newsletter, The Hockey Writer, until 2015.
Bill was a civil servant in the Central Office of Information, working with Bernard Ingham in Margaret Thatcher’s government. He was awarded the OBE in 1990, one year before his retirement.
His wife, Jean, whom he married in 1955, supported him loyally in his love for hockey, both at home and abroad, as sometime co-reporter, regular proof reader and amenuensis. She died in 2010 and he leaves a son Peter, who is a long-time member of Amersham and Chalfont Hockey Club.
His fellow journalist Patrick Rowley, paid tribute: “Bill was a close and very respected friend for as long as I can remember. To me personally he was a mentor. I always valued his opinion and guidance.”
Mike Haymonds, 16 November 2016
Update: The funeral will take place on 30 November 2016 at the Chilterns Crematorium, Whielden Lane, Amersham HP7 0ND at 5:15pm.The crematorium is on the north side of Whielden Lane (A404), Amersham HP7 0ND. www.chilternscrematorium.co.uk
After the service those attending are invited to join Bill’s son Peter and family members at The Plough Inn, The Hill, Winchmore Hill, Amersham HP7 0PA (01495 259757). For the Plough Inn turn right out of the Crematorium and proceed a short distance down the A404 before turning left into Winchmore Hill Village.
Flowers: family only; donations to the Alzheimer’s Society.