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Beijing Olympics Jane Nockolds
 
 Jane Nockolds was prepared for all weather at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.


27.05.1959 – 25.03.2021

By Val Sassall.

I first met Jane when we were both in our early 20s, at the Penzance Festival. I was umpiring and Jane was the bandana-wearing midfield player for Devon Maids having constant banter with me. We were friends from that day. Jane told me recently that the day was one she remembered for my yellow jumper and white gloves – it was probably the catalyst for her later seeking a better image for umpiring!

Our paths consistently crossed as we worked our way through our territories and then onto the National League panels, Jane even umpired ‘in the shed’ making the Crystal Palace Indoor Finals, but much preferred being outdoors. Jane went on to higher things and operated at the very top level of the game domestically and internationally for a number of years, representing Great Britain and England at multiple international events. She was a world-class umpire, officiating at the World Cup in Utrecht and Champions Trophies in Amsterdam, Macau and Sydney. Jane then went on to umpire managing, with her treasured appointments being one of the Umpire Manager team at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China and the World Cup in Rosario, Argentina.

 

Beijing Olympics Umpire Manager team
 
Jane Nockolds (seated, second left) with the team of officials appointed to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.


Whilst she always looked confident, I remember Jane staying over before one of her first international matches. She wore more of her coffee than drinking it, shaking so much – although she couldn’t recall whether it was nerves for her first match with the Dutch or with her colleague, Olympic umpire Gill Clarke.

Jane made a tremendous impact on the umpiring world. She introduced standards for umpiring, an umpire pathway that is still used today and brought in the use of technology (including the use of radios). Her greatest legacy is the National Young Umpire programme, which is still in operation today and has gone on to identify and nurture so many top umpires who are currently servicing the game.

Away from hockey, Jane enjoyed the beauty of Dartmoor where she lived, and the company of her wife Sarah, and their two dogs. Jane’s competitive spirit still showed in her last job, which saw her garden centre team win a national award.

Jane’s popularity shone when friends across the globe in the umpiring world came together to support Jane and Sarah throughout the illness which she fought so bravely and with her usual determination. We were all delighted they were able to go on a final trip of a lifetime to South Africa.

The phenomenal Jane will never be forgotten by all the young umpires, her old friends and people globally; Jane lit up events with her humour, personality and camaraderie.

Val Sassall, former FIH Umpire

 

England Hockey have published their own truibute to Jane Nockolds. Click here to read this.

Grace Robertson
 
Portrait of Grace Robertson, unknown artist.


16.04.1930 – 03.03.2021

It is difficult to put into words what Grace meant to me and to field hockey in the United States – she was an inspiration to so many and we shall all miss her a great deal.

When I graduated from college in the mid-1960s and took my first job at a small liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania, I already knew that I wanted to be involved in providing sport opportunities for girls and women. Growing up near Philadelphia, I had been fortunate to compete in high school and college sports, but most young women I met in college had not. Field hockey presented those opportunities for me and I immediately became involved and represented our local association at my first US Field Hockey National Tournament in 1966 where I met the United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA) President, Grace Robertson, for the first time.

Over the decades I came to realise that Grace was the very embodiment of US field hockey. Our longest serving president, serving not once but on four occasions, Grace's service did not end with her final term. She continued to support and advocate for field hockey, to represent and inspire other women to service for field hockey, nationally and internationally, as so many of her friends in the UK can attest. She was inducted to the US Field Hockey Hall of Fame in 1971. Grace's support of our women's national team, traveling with the rest of ‘The Golden Girls’ all over the world, continued to the end of her remarkable life. We shall miss Grace at future hockey events where her absence will be noted, but we shall also remember her, her love for, and her service to, our wonderful sport.

A full tribute to Grace is posted on the US Field Hockey website, click here.

Sharon Taylor
Past President of US Field Hockey and THM supporter

David Prosser      David Prosser GB cap award player no 144 with Lewis Prosser son


Left: A smiling David on his motorised scooter that helped keep him mobile in recent times.

Right: David was presented with his GB honours cap by his son Lewis.

 

25.01.1943 – 24.01.2021

The Hockey Museum (THM) is very saddened to record the death of David Prosser, one of our greatest supporters. He was there at the rebirth of THM in Woking in 2012, attending the opening ceremony and was always in the background with support, encouragement and material.

David was one of very few players to have represented his country whilst still at school. He went on to represent Wales a (then) record sixty-nine times. One of David’s proudest comments was to tell you that his son Lewis now shares that record, although with the increased frequency of matches Lewis’s total is closing in on two hundred!

Despite his debilitating illness of late, David got out on his motorised scooter to watch Lewis whenever he could.

It was at Kingston Grammar School (KGS) where David learned his hockey, in the infamous ‘cage’, and by a happy coincidence Lewis is now coaching hockey at KGS. However, when David left school, he showed his true all-round sporting ability by joining Surrey County Cricket Club.

In hockey David went on to captain both Wales and Great Britain (GB) and details of his career are given in the excellent appreciation that follows from Hockey Wales. He was also selected as International Hockey Player of the Year in 1972.

Knowing that David had a life-threatening illness, THM decided to honour our friend by arranging the early presentation of his GB Honours Cap. The result of our GB Stats Project, the caps are due for general presentation later this year but we felt it appropriate to get David’s to him as soon as possible. So, at Christmas just past, David received his cap – in lockdown – from Lewis. It is fair to say that David was thrilled to bits.

 

Read Hockey Wales’s tribute to David Prosser by clicking here.

Peter Crane on safari credit Crane family
 
Peter Crane on one of many family safaris.
Image courtesy of the Crane family.


Peter Crane 04.12.35 – 20.12.20

A great servant and supporter of both English and international hockey, Peter Crane, has died at the age of 86. Peter’s hockey interest began at Whitgift School, Croydon. This was followed by his National Service when he was a commissioned officer in the Royal Artillery spending his two years of service stationed in Celle in Germany. There he played a lot of hockey and became an honorary member of Flottbeck HC. On his return to England Peter played for Purley HC where he was variously Captain and President over three decades and Chairman of the Sports Club from 1980 to 1998. His contribution was recognised by the awarding of Life Membership.

Although Peter ran a very successful surveying and property development company his activity within the hockey world was insatiable. At home, Peter was on the Surrey County Committee from 1966 to 1974, Hon. Match Secretary of the Hockey Association (HA) from 1974 to 1980 and a HA Vice President and Director of the World Cup Board from 1982 to 1986. Prior to this, Peter was responsible for developing a fascinating proposal to give hockey a permanent home at the Chiswick Polytechnic Stadium which, although planning permission was granted, never became a reality. He was awarded the HA National Award of Merit in 1987.

Alongside his domestic hockey activity Peter worked hard within the International Hockey Federation (FIH). He was elected a member of the FIH Youth Committee in 1978, becoming its Secretary from 1985 to 1988. He then became Hon. Secretary of the FIH Competitions Committee from 1988 to 2000. Very significantly, Peter was elected a member of the FIH Council in 1985 and served for more than ten years. He was a founder member of the FIH Executive Board from 1993 to 2001. During his time with the FIH Peter attended four Olympic Games as Technical Director and he received the FIH Order of Merit in 1994.

Back in England, he was the Chairman of the National Hockey Stadium Project Group which delivered hockey’s purpose-built stadium, from 1992 to 1998. One of Peter’s lasting legacies was as the commissioner and financier of the 'Hockey Family' statue (right) which stood outside our National Hockey Stadium at Milton Keynes until its closure. The statue now stands at Beeston Hockey Club and remains one of very few pieces of real art relating to our sport and is certainly one of the best.

Mike Smith
28.01.2021

The Hockey Family statue Chris Boulton 1986 Nottingham Hockey Centre attribution Clem Rutter
 
A Family Sport (aka the Hockey Family statue), a sculpture by Chris Boulton.
Image credit: Clem Rutter (Wikimedia).

 John Land

 

17.07.1938 – 06.01.2021

We are sorry to advise that John Land, former England and Great Britain player, has passed away. John had been suffering with Motor Neurone Disease for the past four years and his condition deteriorated recently and he passed away peacefully with his wife Julie holding his hand. All a bit sudden, but we can draw comfort from knowing that he will face no further suffering. He chose to hang around for Christmas. Nice that he did things on his own terms!

John did a lot of work for hockey over many years, particularly for the North, the LX Club and Sunderland. There was a great occasion to mark his 80th birthday with a celebration game and lunch in Durham in 2018 when John was able to make an emotional speech.

John was an exceptional athlete, very quick and a rare breed in that he played for England and Great Britain in the 1960s, playing in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo at a time when most hockey internationals came from the south. He rediscovered hockey later in life; he started playing over 60s when he thought his hockey career was over. He played for England at Grand Masters age group levels winning gold medals at over 60, over 65 and over 70 levels and played in the first ever over 75 international against Holland in 2015.

John was instrumental in creating the opportunity and promoting over 60s hockey in northern England and his work means that the North now run sides at over 60, over 65 and over 70 level in the regional tournaments (having won gold at over 65 and over 70 level). He was the first North regional representative for the LX Hockey Club bringing many North players into international Grand Masters hockey.

He was President of the North Hockey association in 2006 and helped develop the organisation for all levels of hockey in the North.

John was one of life’s gentlemen; he was a gifted player with a keen will to win and he will be missed by all who knew him.

John leaves his wife Julie, who has been his carer for the last few years, sons Keith and Nigel, daughter Sheena, their partners and six grandchildren. Our condolences and best wishes go to them.

Chris Reece

Mike Elliott 2

 

24.10.1937 – 05.12.2020

It is with much sadness that we report news of the death of Mike Elliott. Mike was a true club and county stalwart and was a major influence on how the Sheffield Hockey Club (SHC) looks and operates today. He passed away peacefully in his sleep aged 83 in December. He leaves a wife Pauline, children and grandchildren.

Mike joined Sheffield H.C. in 1960 playing left half in the 1st XI, playing for Yorkshire in 1963. He was captain of the 1st XI 1963/66 and 1969/71. He finished playing in 1976 and was Fixtures Secretary taking over from Gordon Hall in 1964 until he handed over to Roger Lomas in 1973.

The turning point in his later hockey career was a telephone call in 1974 from Yorkshire asking him to take over, at short notice, as Chairman of Selectors working with David Higham and Norman Hughes raising the profile of Yorkshire Hockey and laying the foundations for later success. The appointment prompted him to take a coaching course (to learn about the game!) and coaching then became very much part of his life. He was Yorkshire President from 1986 to 1988. At the club he took over junior coaching responsibilities and was Club Coach between 1982 and 1990, and was official Junior Organiser from 1991 to 1999.

Working with Andy Tapley, he assisted with the design, contract, laying and marketing of the first synthetic surface at Abbeydale in 1989, the first club pitch of this kind in the county.

He was assistant to Steve Catton in managing the World Student Games' Hockey competition in Sheffield in 1991, (won by Great Britain) and the photo is from that era.

His contribution to hockey was recognised with the Hockey Association Award of Merit for Services to the Game at National Level in 1992, and English Hockey Certificate of Thanks for Outstanding Contribution to the Game in 1998.
Andy Tapley added his own commemoration:

“Mike's love of hockey was infectious and he was a very positive influence on a range of SHC 1st XI Captains – not least myself! – the county team and countless youngsters who have gone on to have an enjoyable life in hockey. Thanks for all you've done for SHC and Yorkshire Mike. You've left a wonderful legacy."

Mark Beavis and Roger Lomas

Wim van Noortwijk Grand Masters World Cup Australia 2016
 
Wim Van Noortwijk at the Grand Masters Hockey World Cup in Australia, 2016.


It is with great sadness that I must tell you that Wim died peacefully this morning after a long battle with cancer. It was typical of the man that he insisted on being part of our Board Meeting [of the World Grant Masters Association – WGMA] by Skype less than two weeks ago so that he could hand over in person to John Willmott, our new President.

It was one of his last wishes that a message of thanks should be sent on his behalf to all members of the WGMA family for their friendship and support.

In return all of us who enjoy Grand Masters hockey will always remember and be grateful for the contribution that Wim has made to all our lives.

Adrian Stephenson, Hon. Secretary WGMA.

WGMA


Wim was born in Rotterdam in 1941 and grew up in an environment where football rather than hockey was the main game. After a spell in the military, Wim enjoyed a fast rise in the business world which meant that there wasn’t much time for sport although he had the innate Dutch love of small boats and watersport and also gained a pilot’s licence to fly light aircraft. He later developed a love affair with skiing, visiting Austria several times every year where he proudly qualified as an instructor.

Wim’s colourful and highly successful business life included a spell as Kerry Packer’s man in Europe – the source of many of Wim’s favourite stories. He became President of ISSA (International Shipsuppliers and Services Association) in 2000 and served two four-year terms during which he made a significant contribution to the organisation.

Hellevoetsluis in the south-west of the Netherlands was the port from which William of Orange set sail for England in 1688 and Wim was a leading figure in the town which he had made his home. In 1988 he took an official party from Hellevoetsluis on his boat to be part of the 300th Anniversary celebrations of the landing at Brixham and enjoyed being entertained in Torbay on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

His hockey career began shortly after this in the early 1990s when his young daughter Edith started playing at HC Voorne, the local club in Hellevoetsluis. Wim was encouraged to join the club himself and to play in their ‘social’ veterans' team. As with anything to which he turned his hand Wim was soon at the heart of activities within the club – player, umpire, sponsor and more.

Friend and WGMA Technical Director Jaap Quarles van Ufford remembers those early years.

I met Wim for the first time in 1999 when he became a league umpire in the same District (Zuid-Holland) where I had started three years earlier. I distinctly remember how he immediately made a mark for himself soon after he joined: during a Rules Briefing for umpires in the District everybody was complaining about the KNHB being stingy and only handing out warm-up jackets to the elite umpires in the National League. In his typical manner, Wim stood up and said, "Let's stop moaning everyone, just leave your required size with me and I'll make sure everybody in our district has a jacket at the next meeting".

Everybody looked at each other and said, "Who is this guy?", but sure enough within a few weeks everybody had their jacket (with an advertisement for one of Wim's companies on it, of course, but who cares) and our District became the envy of the other five Districts in The Netherlands. Every now and then I run into people who are still wearing one of those jackets. I never umpired together with Wim at that time, as I was promoted to the National League a year later and Wim was happy to stay and "do his thing" in the bottom leagues. Wim did not umpire for the District League for long, because after a couple of years the Men’s 1st team of his club HC Voorne was relegated to the lowest division, where no league umpires were allocated, so he decided that his loyalty was more to his club than to KNHB and from then on mostly umpired the home matches of their 1st Men’s and Ladies’ teams. During those years he also played for the Voorne veterans and he was President of HC Voorne for a number of years.


On his 60th birthday in 2001 Wim became a member of the rapidly growing Dutch Over 60s club ‘De Zestigplussers’ and was in the party that travelled to Kuala Lumpur in 2002 for the Grand Masters World Cup. This was at the very beginning of the formation of the World Grand Masters Association (WGMA). Wim continued to be a part of WGMA events as player and umpire and in 2008 was invited by WGMA to become the Board’s adviser on matters relating to Umpiring and Sponsorship. Three years later he was asked to join the Board as Vice President (Europe) and in 2014 succeeded Peter Child as the 2nd President of WGMA.

He was one of WGMA’s two representatives on the FIH Masters Hockey Panel which later became the International Masters Hockey Board Working Group and which was ultimately responsible for the formation of World Masters Hockey, bringing together the activities of WGMA and the International Masters Hockey Association (IMHA) in one body for all age groups on the insistence of FIH. Wim became a member of the first Board of WMH in 2018 and resigned after the first General Assembly in August 2019.

Wim was always a strong advocate of Grand Masters hockey and the fact that at a certain age there was a difference in the expectations of both players and supporters. The special combination of competitive hockey and enjoyable social event was unique to Grand Masters tournaments. He campaigned for the continuation of the separate development of Grand Masters hockey within WMH as a way to maintain the character of events for the older age groups and was disappointed when this was overruled.

Through his almost 20 years of Grand Masters hockey Wim became an integral part of every event: a strong President of WGMA, an impresario of the opening event of each tournament, a cool head behind the scenes in support of the TD, an umpire or technical official whenever required and a competitive player whenever he took to the field – to everyone he was both a figurehead and a friend.

All those who know Wim from the hockey world will identify with these sentences extracted from the obituary published by ISSA, his former shipping association:

His was a presidency chock-full of hard work, fun, surprises and major initiatives. If you went along for the ride – as many did – you were seldom disappointed.

Wim was a charismatic man and we shall not see his like again. From his famous ‘helicopter’ view we salute him and wish his ‘coming days’ ‘crystal clear’ and deservedly peaceful.

Shipping or hockey, the man himself remained the same – “Farewell, amigo”.

Wim van Noortwijk
Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, awarded the silver medal of the Carnegie Hero Fund, Member of Honour of WGMA, Honorary Member of NHC 60+, Honorary Member of HC Voorne, Hellevoetsluis.


Adrian Stephenson & Jaap Quarles van Ufford,
5 December 2020

Maurice Kittrell courtesy Tony Tucker

Maurice Kittrell. Image courtesy of Tony Tucker.


It is with sadness that we record the death of Maurice Kittrell, a very well-known and great hockey personality and supporter. His friendliness and enthusiasm for all aspects of hockey was second to none.

Maurice was probably best known for his long association with Hounslow Hockey Club which he joined as a schoolboy at the age of 16 in 1946. A regular 1st XI player through three decades, he was captain through most of the 1960s and was Captain of the Club from 1969 to 1971. He also played for Middlesex, the South and England. This was in an era when Hounslow was undoubtedly one of the premier clubs in England. He was Hon. Secretary from 1981 to 1987 and later, as Club Chairman, he was heavily involved in their move to Dukes Meadow and the installation of the first water-based pitch in the country situated at a club.

Maurice was also a great supporter of Middlesex Hockey Association and was Chairman for a number of years. He was an enthusiastic member of the Hockey Writers’ Club and a regular at most hockey events. Sadly, he did not enjoy the best of health over recent years and his 90th birthday party earlier this year had to be cancelled because of lockdown. Earlier this month both he and his wife caught the Covid-19 virus and they died within three days of each other.

Mike Smith, Curator, 27.11.2020

Helen Morgan

Helen with her grandfather Don Perkins. Courtesy of Hockey Wales.

20.07.1966 – 19.11.2020

The Hockey Family were saddened to hear that Welsh goalkeeper and Olympic bronze medal winner, Helen Morgan (nee Grandon) passed away on the 19 November 2020 at the age of 54.

Helen was introduced to the game at thirteen and she soon established herself as a precocious goalkeeper who, just a few months later, made history by becoming the youngest ever player to play in the European Club Championships with Swansea. She would win go on to win six national titles.

Helen proudly represented Wales and her prowess and unflappable nature saw her become the only Welsh player selected for the 1992 Great Britain (GB) bronze medal-winning side at the Barcelona Olympic Games. They triumphed over Korea 4-3 to take bronze. As the only Welsh competitor to win a medal in Barcelona, she found herself feted on her return.

Helen was awarded 19 caps for GB.

Helen was not only a talented hockey player, but following Olympic success she turned her energies to football and was selected for Wales – but outfielder rather than in goal. She went on to captain the Welsh football team for two years.

You can hear Helen talk about her Olympic experience and read the longer transcript of an interview she gave to People’s Collection Wales in 2014 by clicking here.

Following her retirement from the game, Helen went on to inspire many young people through her coaching and stories of her many achievements.

Those that had the honour of knowing Helen say that she was an incredibly humble and kind person who was known for her smile and infectious laugh; a real character and a truly lovely individual who will be greatly missed.

Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.

This obituary combines those on Hockey Wales and Great Britain Hockey websites.

Ernie Wall1

Ernie Wall. Courtesy: SikhsinHockey.com

24.12.1924 – 15.11.2020

It is with sadness that we learn of the passing of Ernest (Ernie) Wall on Sunday 15 November 2020 at Windyhall Care Home, Ayr in Scotland. He was aged 95.

Ernie’s career in hockey spans more than 70 years, starting during his war service in India in the 1940s. When he was demobbed in 1947, he joined Inverleith Hockey Club.

Ernie became international match secretary of the Scottish Men’s Hockey Association, and team manager between 1959 and 1965, as well as being Scottish representative on the British Olympic Hockey Board between 1959 and 1966 and 1979 to 1984.

Ernie was also involved with the International Hockey Federation (FIH), with Scotland joining the FIH in 1970. He was Indoor Hockey Committee secretary between 1970 and 1988, as well as an elected member of the FIH Executive Council in 1980. He was also a member of the Technical/Equipment committees. He was awarded with the FIH Order of Merit in 1988.

Ernie also has a long involvement with the Hockey Rules Board, which celebrated its centenary in 2000. Specialising in indoor hockey rules, he was the longest serving board member, having joined in 1969 and retired in 2002.

Ernie’s involvement with hockey also stretches to international umpiring, both outdoor and indoor, which he undertook between 1968 and 1976. He was also involved with the European Hockey Federation (EHF). He was honoured as a Member of Honour of EHF in 1991.

His long service to the sport was also recognised in 1982 when he was awarded the OBE for services to hockey.

He had also been involved in a number of Olympic Games as an official and had a keen interest in the history of hockey. He was a passionate collector of hockey stamps. This is where our friendship grew from when I (Dil Bahra) became the secretary of Hockey Writers’ Club in 2000.

Ernie Wall stamps

Ernie Wall with his hockey stamp collection. Courtesy: SikhsinHockey.com

Ernie was the first winner of the Friskin Award in 2000. The award was made annually to a UK individual for Outstanding Services to the Sport of Hockey by The Hockey Writers’ Club in memory of Sydney Friskin, the respected correspondent of The Times.

I had the pleasure of meeting him and presenting the award during the Olympic Qualifier in Edinburgh in 2001. In 2006 I visited him at his home in Peebles to see his hockey stamp collection. We exchanged news on stamps regularly.

In 2006 when an image of a hockey was printed on a Scottish ten pounds note (Commonwealth Games, Melbourne 2006), he wasted no time in ensuring that he sent this note as a gift to be included on the Hockey on Stamps website.

Ernie was the major contributor to One Hundred Years of Scottish Hockey, a lavish book published to mark the centenary of the Scottish Hockey Centenary Celebrations and Tournament; and produced pamphlets on the history of indoor and outdoor hockey rules. He shared many of the photos with me, particularly relating to Indian hockey.

He was a great supporter of my Sikhs in Hockey website. With his vast knowledge of hockey around the world, he provided information on the contribution of Sikhs worldwide. If it had not been for Ernie, I never would have known that Sikhs were playing hockey in Palestine. Ernie recalled playing hockey with Sikh Regiments when he was stationed in Palestine back in 1940-41.

Ernie contributed to The Hockey Museum with many items when the Museum was established in 2011. He would post the items to me to take to the Museum, never accepting any money or reimbursements in return.

Leandro Negre, past FIH President and past EHF President paid this tribute to Ernie Wall: "It is very sad news. Such a lovely man. I will pray for him. I always got good advice and wisdom from him. I will keep forever his memory." He then went on to say how much he appreciated Ernie who introduced him in official hockey circles and appointing him as a member of the Indoor Committee.

By Dil Bahra
This obituary previously appeared on fieldhockey.com.

Other obituaries:
Scottish Hockey
EHF

Tony Johnson Brooklands IoM27.2.1949 – 25.5.2020

The name of Anthony William Johnson was never likely to be found in hockey’s national record books, and his portrait was never destined for any Hall of Fame, but Tony Johnson was undoubtedly one of those unsung heroes and club legends upon whom our great sport depends.

Born on 27 February 1949 in Birkenhead, Tony played hockey at school and then moved into club hockey with the Dunlop works team in Liverpool. His sporting interests extended to cricket and football, and he founded the ‘Noctorum Dynamos’ team that played in the Birkenhead Sunday League 6th Division.

After attending Flintshire College of Technology in north Wales, he moved to Manchester and played at Bowden HC for a season before joining Brooklands HC in 1972. Tony was soon a key member of his new club, running the ‘Crusaders’ Sunday team and becoming a long-standing captain of the 4th XI.

He was also a founder member, organiser, captain and ‘general life and soul’ of The Goblins – a touring side from Brooklands and Golborne HC in Warrington – that went to the Whitsun Festival in the Isle of Man from 1976.

Apart from being a big part of his sporting life, Brooklands Hockey Club also introduced Tony to his bride-to-be who was working on the clubhouse bar. However, because he played hockey on Saturdays and Sundays, went to training sessions and Committee meetings, played five-a-side football and ran the ‘Sweet Chariot’ mobile disco, Pip didn’t see too much of him … and his relationship was not helped by the occasion when he returned home with broken ribs after a late-night table tennis match in the clubhouse.

Tony moved to Nottingham in 1984 and joined West Bridgford HC, by which time he was the father of two young children with a third to follow soon afterwards. While he accepted that Pip’s interest in hockey was limited (at best!), Tony did hope that the children would share his passion for the sport. However after some junior hockey coaching he graciously accepted that Mike was more interested in football, while Samantha and Rebecca preferred dancing. And despite his best efforts, Tony had to reluctantly concede that his children would also never share his passion for country walking.

During 35 years at West Bridgford HC Tony was Captain of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th teams for a total of eleven seasons, Club President, and the only person to win the ‘Contribution to the Social Life of the Club’ award on more than one occasion.

He was always willing to umpire matches and, unless one of his other interests intervened, Tony could be found near or behind the clubhouse bar every Saturday, where his luxuriant shock of dark hair led to the nickname ‘Wiggy’. He also brought his appetite for touring to the East Midlands by establishing and organising The Wimps, a team of West Bridgford men and Lincoln ladies that went to the Isle of Man for eleven years.

When West Bridgford moved to a new ground opposite his house Tony was a natural choice for Ground Secretary, responsible for cancelling matches in adverse weather. He held this post for more than 15 seasons, and suspicions that pitch inspections took place from the window of his son’s second-floor bedroom were merely a rumour.

With extensive business contacts among sports equipment suppliers, Tony offered to order the balls, shirts and goalkeeping kit for the Club – all of which added to the clutter in a busy house. In true ‘Del Trotter’ style, Mercian Sports were paid in reject Meccano (for which Tony’s company was the UK distributor) over a period of ten years, leaving Mike Smith with one of the largest private collections of this model construction system in the country!

Tony’s educational supplies company also acquired a business competitor and their stock, which included a large number of hockey sticks that he started selling to clubmates at West Bridgford. However this line of business ground to a halt when one batch of sticks proved to be faulty, and the remainder were donated to a charity that provided sports goods to under-privileged children in Africa.

Affectionately remembered by a Brooklands team-mate as “a lumbering but effective full back”, Tony achieved notoriety for heading shots off the goal line on two occasions – although to little avail, as both subsequent penalty strokes were scored. In his later years at West Bridgford he could be found near to the opposition’s goal for much of the game, earning the nickname ‘Tap-In Tony’ for his positional acumen and unerring ability to score from all of one or two yards.

With an email address of “TJhockeyman”, Tony’s sporting preference was no secret. And although hockey, family and business would have been more than enough to fill up his life, he still found time to pursue other passions that included old cars, French holidays – where he and Pip bought a house – fine food, real ale, live music, country walking and big dogs; he was also a life-long supporter of Tranmere Rovers and an enthusiastic spectator of cricket and rugby union.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015, Tony faced this challenge with typical good humour and a positive attitude; and despite the impact of chemotherapy he continued playing hockey whenever his health permitted, with the result that many people were unaware of his condition. In August 2019 he completed the 192-mile Coast-to-Coast walk with three clubmates from West Bridgford, and he appeared regularly for the 10th XI and continued to umpire until late November 2019.

Remaining positive and cheerful to the very end, Tony passed away on 25 May 2020, leaving many lives and the sport of hockey a much poorer place. Two of the many warm tributes sum up a special man who will be sorely missed:
“Tony was not the best hockey player, far from the best umpire, but one of the very best men I had the pleasure to meet.”

“He was also one of those people who if you asked him to do something then he found it difficult to say no. A nicer guy you would be hard pushed to find.”

Steve LeMottee

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