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1958 Eng v Scot Wembley Biddy Birgum Jean Calder
 
Jean Calder (right) tackling Biddy Burgum during the England vs Scotland match at Wembley Stadium in 1958.

 

10.03.1929 – 07.03.2022

Scottish international hockey player and Scottish Women’s Hockey Association past President.

Even compared to those of the modern jet set, Jean Calder was an incredibly well-travelled person. Although many of these early journeys were by sea rather than by air. Much of this was as a player, umpire or official of the Scottish Women’s Hockey Association (SWHA). We of the hockey world join in the sadness of her family, her golf and bridge friends and her neighbours on learning of her recent death, aged 92, following six months of two falls, hospitalisation and care, but always with the hope of a return home, until sadly succumbing to Covid.

Born in Edinburgh in 1929, schooled at George Watsons, she naturally played for Women Watsonians, then East District. Jean played as a forward before switching to left back in the Scottish team in 1957. There she played continuously, latterly as Vice-Captain, until deciding to retire from representative hockey on her appointment as Principal Lecturer in Physical Education at the newly established Callendar Park College of Education in Falkirk in 1964. After the threat of college closures, she accepted redundancy in 1978 and turned her attention again to the SWHA.

 

Scotland women team photo
 
The Scotland women's team (early 1960s). Jean Calder is seated second from the right.

 

As well as the annual Home Countries fixtures, Jean had toured in Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and Canada, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany and Kenya, including the four-yearly International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations (IFWHA) Tournaments in Sydney (Australia), Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and Baltimore (USA).

Turning to administration, Jean became President of the SWHA in 1974 and during her three-year term of office was hostess to the IFWHA Conference and Tournament in Edinburgh in 1975. This two-week event must be a highlight in our history for all involved. In 1977 she was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Silver Medal in recognition of this undertaking.

The organisation of Scottish Hockey had always been in the hands of unpaid volunteers, with the papers and records (no cups or trophies allowed in those days) passing to the cupboards or under the bed of each incoming President. It was decided in the early 1980s by the Scottish Hockey Association (SHA – men) and the SWHA each to appoint a paid secretary. We rented adjoining offices in Ainslie Place in Edinburgh. The posts were advertised, Jean applied for the SWHA position and was duly appointed. Who could have done better? Who else knew as much about Scottish Hockey? She set to, gathered our records, sorted and categorised and provided the centre of communication (all in the days before computers). The next step was to be amalgamation with the men. The SHA and the SWHA amalgamated in 1989 to become the Scottish Hockey Union.

In 2000 Jean, along with Ernie Wall, Eileen Hyndman and Evlyn Raistrick of the Book Committee, produced 100 Years of Scottish Hockey – a testament to Scottish Hockey, so much of which Jean had been part of.

On retirement Jean enjoyed more travel – to Kathmandu and trekking in the Himalayas to celebrate her 60th birthday, several round-the-world trips and visits to many European countries as well as enjoying many different parts of Britain. Many of these travels were with friends, but latterly she enjoyed cruises with her older sister, Dr Anne Scott, who died in May 2021. In 1995 Jean returned to South Africa as a Great Britain hockey supporter when South Africa, in their first event after apartheid, hosted the Olympic Qualifier. She also played golf (at Liberton Golf Club) and bridge and kept fit walking her various dogs. Jean was able and independent right up until six months before her death.

Jean remained single, but in 1965 became guardian to her eight-year-old niece Patricia, who was sent to boarding school in Edinburgh while her parents worked in Pakistan. She always thought of Jean as her second Mum and her two sons, Robert and David, were also close to their Great Aunt. They will miss her very much, as will her many friends and neighbours and the congregation of Marchmont St Giles’ Parish Church of Scotland of which she was a member for many years.
While mourning the loss of a good friend, we celebrate her long and well-lived life.

 

Jennifer Munro, Scottish international player.
Evlyn Raistrick, Scottish and International Hockey Federation (FIH) Umpire.

 

Eng vs Scotland at The Oval 1950 Marie Weir scoring a goal Scotland lost 2 6
 
Marie Weir scoring against England at The Oval cricket ground in 1950. Scotland lost 6-2.

 

03.06.1926 – 27.02.2022

Dr Marie Weir (nee Jaffrey Smith) was a Scottish international hockey player in the late 1940s/early 1950s. She won a bronze medal at the post-war festival of women’s hockey in 1948 in Amsterdam. Marie gained more than 20 Scottish caps and played at Wembley Stadium.

She was appointed as National Coach to the Scottish women’s teams in 1971, at a time when Scottish hockey was graced by arguably the most talented group of players ever to represent the Scottish Women’s Hockey Association (SWHA).

Marie was one of Scotland’s most charismatic and inspirational hockey coaches. Her forward- thinking approach changed women’s hockey in Scotland for ever and resulted in ‘The Dream Team’ beating England at Wembley (2-1), on 11 March 1972 – a feat that had not been achieved in over thirty-nine years. The team went on to secure the ‘Triple Crown’.

What a breath of fresh air Marie was! Her ideas on diet, fitness, technique, tactics, team management and knowing the ‘whole person’, not only the hockey player, were all part of a totally new approach to the game. Meeting with football managers and studying their methods brought more knowledge about transitional play from defence to attack to produce a more fluid game. She worked tirelessly to introduce coaching programmes involving technical skills and tactical awareness, as well as involving the coach in team selection which made so much sense. She worked with the players week in, week out and knew better than anyone their strengths and weaknesses.

When Marie became involved in the early 1970s, the selection process was outdated and inappropriate for the modern game. It was a constant battle for her to progress to a squad system where the coach would select the team, as opposed to the selectors choosing a team and two reserves. She developed the game from the traditional formation to the possibilities of adaptable formations.

Marie Weir coaching Scottish schoolgirlsMarie was extremely competitive, and her ‘friendly authoritarian’ style of coaching was unique as she shared her knowledge and infectious enthusiasm in abundance. “YOU CAN AND YOU WILL” were words often repeated, and not to be ignored.

Marie gained insight into other aspects of the players’ lives. We had talented artists, musicians, mothers, and young players who were blended into a formidable unit in 1972, because she knew their families and she knew them as rounded individuals. Equally, the players who were initially coached by Marie were invited to her home in Dunfermline to share Marie’s other love, her family. Her beloved husband, Douglas, and five children all shared the highs and lows of Scottish women’s hockey and provided invaluable support throughout her coaching journey.

Marie was a woman on a mission, and I [Rae Nicholson] was fortunate and honoured to be on that mission with her. Becoming captain of the Scottish team after Wembley, I worked closely with Marie and could not have asked for a more supportive, inspiring coach. She gave so willingly of herself and was always at the end of the phone, not only for me but for any of the players who needed her.

A brief visit to the USA to coach youth players and then being invited to coach the Scottish Schoolgirls in the late 1970s (pictured) allowed Marie to lay the foundations for her progressive developmental approach from ‘nursery’ to the Scotland squad.

Not only was her time dedicated to coaching hockey, but she also wrote a comments column in The Scotsman newspaper on Scottish women’s hockey for ten years, (1960s-1970s), and published two very informative books on hockey coaching in the mid-1970s.

Another talent of a very gifted lady.

 

Rae Nicholson, Scotland captain 1973-76.

 

Other Obituaries

Read Marie Weir's obituary in The Scotsman: Dr Marie Weir obituary | The Scotsman

Alan Jackson 2       Alan Jackson 1
     
Alan Jackson's Loughborough
University entrance photograph, 1960.
  Trojans HC win the National League
play-offs in 1990.

 

12.06.1939 – 20.02.2022

Alan was born in Southampton on 12 June 1939 to parents James and Vera Jackson. He had an elder brother Peter who was 6 years older.

Alan resided in Southampton for a short while before being evacuated in 1939 with his mother to Blackpool to live with an auntie until they returned in 1945. He spent time in a couple of local schools until 1953 when he was moved to the Royal Masonic School in Bushey Park. It was here that he flourished and found his love of sports, frequently being recounted as one of the most talented allrounders the school had produced. Alan’s primary sport was rugby and late in his teens he made the choice to pursue a career in hockey – his pragmatic analysis was that hockey had fewer injuries and therefore would provide some longevity!

He completed his teacher training degree at Loughborough University between 1960 and 1963, and then spent four years teaching at King Edward VI School in Southampton where he specialised in Games, Geography and Drama. During his time living back in Southampton Alan played for Trojans Hockey Club and was an instrumental player in their 1st XI. This led to him being selected to play in the Great Britain tour of Australia in the summer of 1966 where he was part of a very successful team, managed by the knowledgeable and well-respected LSE ‘Jonah’ Jones and captained by the enigmatic David Prosser who sadly passed away in January 2021.

After his years of teaching Alan returned to his studies and completed both parts of his diploma in Management Studies as well as an MSc in Recreation Management. A job opportunity in Manchester in 1974 saw the family move to Bramhall and Alan then played for a spell with Alderley Edge Hockey Club.

Having been frustrated with working under the confines of a local council, Alan purchased a hotel in the Polygon, Southampton in 1977 and the family, now including 3 children Claire, Graham and Christopher, moved back to Southampton shortly after. Alan and his wife Wendy ran the hotel very successfully for many years. Later, Alan purchased two large Victorian houses on the edge of Southampton and created the ‘Pimms’ and ‘Hollies’ Hotel Apartments. Both ran very successfully until his retirement in 1999.

Alan spent his remaining years overlooking the sea in Hill Head, Fareham where his son Graham and wife Wendy still reside.

 

Coaching at Tojans Hockey Club

Alan had a big impact as a hockey player. His representing Great Britain in 1966 was a mark of his talent and the dedication and passion he had for the sport. He contributed a great deal to Trojans in the 1960s and 1970s as a player, but his contribution to coaching hockey could be viewed as even more impactful. In the late 1980s he took over as first team coach at Trojans to bring the club back into the highest league in the country. At the time the first National League was being formed and Alan saw a place for Trojans in it. He was always an incredibly creative thinker and wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo and push things forward. He was one of the first coaches to extensively use video analysis of both the Trojans team and, frequently from a covert location, their future opposition! He used instant playback analysis of short corners and walkie talkies to communicate, as well as being one of the first coaches in the country to utilise his Australian connections to head hunt specific international players and employ them to play for the club. In latter years sports psychologists, nutritionists, physiotherapists and even an infamous athletics sprint coach formed a normal part of team life. Pre-season tournaments at the Racing Club de France and other more local teams helped build the team spirit needed to win. Trojans were frequently the underdogs, and yet his coaching presence and approach allowed the team to achieve far beyond what the ‘on paper’ comparisons to their opposition might predict. This approach saw a mighty rise for Trojans who, in the space of three short years gained promotion to and through the National League and into the top division. Alan worked closely with David Whittle as part of the England coaching set-up travelling the country and reporting back on potential talent. Indeed, at one point before this Alan was lined up as Great Britain Assistant Coach, but this was sadly curtailed as the family were involved in a serious car crash meaning he was unable to make the commitment.

Alan was a fantastic player, an inspirational coach and was devoted to his wife and children. He was a man of few words, but the thought and relevance of what was said was (nearly!) always worth listening to. His passing is a not only huge loss to his immediate and extended family, but also to a long list of teammates and players, both in the UK and abroad, who had the privilege of his thoughtful and creative guidance.

 

Chris Jackson, March 2022

Mike Ward

 

09.12.1942 – 14.02.2022

Hockey goalkeeper, umpire, umpire developer, administrator extraordinaire, strong amateur tennis player, renowned public speaker, battlefield historian, great friend to many and lastly, but not least, a quiz star!

Mike Ward: Yes, he preferred to be known by his middle name, was a war baby born in December 1942. He was a lifelong lover of the county of Dorset, first attending the local prep school ‘The Birches’ in Blandford and then onto the newly opened Castle Court School in Wimborne where he became head boy. He progressed to senior school away at Monkton Combe near Bath where, yet again, he became head boy. That role theme clearly defined his next 60 years. In virtually every activity he was ever involved, particularly administratively, he soon became the lead or the chairman! Amongst his school alumni are his 2 younger brothers: Peter (Colonel in the Royal Marines) and the late Timothy (a notable actuary), and amongst many others in his actual school year: Sir Richard Stilgoe and Tony Blackburn - both from the world of entertainment.

It was at Monkton that he probably first encountered field hockey and from day one played in goal. It is likely he was seen as an able sportsman with no previous hockey skills from his prep school days and thus put into goal! Hockey certainly was not his main sport at the time, as he was a very accomplished young tennis player and that skill was reflected in his choice of university: Oxford or Cambridge? He chose Cambridge after he reviewed where he felt it would best suit his tennis skills!

He went to Downing College and teamed up with Mark Cox who was in the same academic year and College. Together they both won blues for tennis, although strictly speaking it was only classed as a half blue, being a mere minor sport! Having gained their respective degrees Mike went on to practise law by profession, while Mark went on to be a professional tennis player!

 

Mike Ward Bournemouth HC Nottingham International Festival 1970
 
Mike Ward (goalkeeper) with the Bournemouth Hockey Club team who beat European Club
Champions C D Terrasa during the Nottingham International Festival of 1970.

 

Mike played his adult sport in Bournemouth, performing in goal for Bournemouth hockey 1st XI at the delightful Kinson Park ground in winter and playing tennis at the East Dorset Tennis Club in the summer. He played hockey for Hampshire in goal and for Dorset in both sports, in the era when playing for one’s county was an outstanding honour for any sportsperson. He also dabbled in playing some real tennis and squash, but the latter was limited as a childhood heart condition could not match his racquet skills enough to play too much. He was spotted in goal once (in a non league match) sitting on the back board, smoking his pipe and reading a newspaper. Clearly, his goalkeeping skills were not needed too much that day! When he did progress later to wearing a flimsy face mask, a pipe could often be seen poking through.

Even in his early active adult playing days, Mike was soon involved in hockey administration. He was a founder member of the then rebel, South Men’s Hockey League which started in season 1972/73 with several county divisions of up to 10 teams across the 8 South Region Counties – all playing each other once. Havant HC just piped Bournemouth HC in the Hampshire Division 1 title that season, but only on goal difference! To have so many teams involved in the inaugural season was in itself no mean feat and tribute to Mike and his fellow committee members. The South League went from strength to strength, quickly attaining the largest number of league teams in the country with eventually over 650 men’s teams involved. The league committee still stands with Mike (as chair!) through to its 50th year this season 21/22 and is working towards agreeing a fitting finale and then a likely dissolvement later in 2022.

In the mid-1970s he began his umpiring career whilst still playing some matches in goal and he soon progressed to umpire top matches which at the time was in the London League and top of the South League – equivalent of the current national premier division. That entailed substantial travel between London and Poole each time, to cover those games. He did umpire more locally as well, often making the trip to Weymouth and at the time of his 40th birthday, after the game there, he then possibly over indulged whilst visiting several pubs along Weymouth harbour.

His administrative portfolio increased along with his umpiring progression as his playing career slowly wound down. He continued to umpire at a good standard into his early 70s and then stepped down a little to start assessing and coaching umpires. By then he had had a pacemaker fitted and somehow he had the ability to adjust the device up, in order to follow the umpires and keep up with play!

He served both Hampshire and Dorset Hockey Associations in several capacities for both adults and juniors, from those early days right up to point of his passing. He initially joined the Southern Counties Hockey Association (SCHA) as the Hampshire representative. His attention to detail, decision making and listening skills also meant he was soon involved in helping out the lead body of hockey at the time, the England Hockey Association, becoming well known to fellow administrators across the country. For so many clubs he became the person to know and was available to resolve all sorts of issues with his knowledge of the game and particularly how best to manage disciplinary matters. He had a great rapport with every Hampshire based club and they all held him in great esteem. His annual top-up of such communication with those clubs was at the Hampshire Cup Finals Day event ‘Hampshire Day’, where it is hard to recall whether he ever missed one. This also meant he was fully booked every year, attending various club dinners and was usually asked to speak. His oratory skills were phenomenal as he appeared to have an endless supply of anecdotes, well supported by sporting and political jokes to fit any occasion. He was so good, it usually meant he was then asked to go again the following year.

In 1983 he travelled to New Zealand to the first ever hockey Golden Oldies international tournament, no doubt as an umpire. He was so enthralled with the concept he managed to convince the organisers to agree to Bournemouth acting as hosts which duly happened in 1989! A huge administrative task.

With national success in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and the emergence of artificial turf pitches, the game saw immerse change over the next 5-10 years. Hockey grew in popularity, clubs expanded and skill levels and the speed of the game changed dramatically becoming watchable to a much wider audience. Thus administration support was needed to match it. In the end the England Hockey Association struggled to cope financially and a new limited company, England Hockey (EH), emerged in 2003. The administrative changes were immense and Mike, in his SCHA chairman’s role, worked hard linking the new body to the grass roots he knew so well. He skilfully struck a balance between EH and South clubs regarding the pace of change. He was to be responsible for appointing the current UK Sport CEO Sally Munday, EH Development Director Rich Beer (and many others) all as young fledgling administrators on their career paths as the EH link person to the South Region. Such change was needed to introduce the English National League elite level of competition and to restructure the regional youth programmes into a more consistent national unit. This has taken several iterations in order to raise the all-round level of skill in the game and support the National teams at all levels.

The more recent far-reaching changes of the EH Governance review have taken things to another level, removing a lot of old historical anomalies across the country. Mike, like many, felt that the pace of change during the Covid-19 pandemic had been too quick and was happy to say so! Time will no doubt see many of the review’s overall aims to indeed be the right ones.

His passing came a bit earlier that he had planned as he wanted to ensure these new hockey structures were all working well and then give time to dissolve his long-standing committees and ensure he celebrated his 80th birthday in style. He did not quite make that but, there are plenty of his close friends who will no doubt ensure that he will be remembered on that day.

Finally, domestically outside the hockey world, Mike had a passion for quizzes and battlefield history. He was a major authority on both. He loved to attend his local pub quiz, usually weekly, with his close lifelong friends referred to amongst themselves, as ‘The Secret 7’. Its importance to him was such that committee meetings were always fitted around quiz nights, all scribbled into a minute paper diary that he carried around with him. In the mid-1990s, he even entered the TV quiz programme 15 to 1 winning several programmes in a row to be forwarded to the champions of champions to prove he was indeed no slouch when it came to general knowledge. He also had a passion for historical warfare facts. Mike was well read, with bookcases of related books to support him. He could actually quickly recall much of the detail from his head, frequently contacting newspapers and magazines when he spotted they had printed the wrong facts! He would top up his reading by going on European battlefield tours and again was happy to correct his guides where he felt their information was wrong or lacking.

Norman Hughes (former England hockey captain) summed him up as “a wise leader.” Those two words go very well together in connection with Mike. It was thus no surprise in 2018 that he received England Hockey’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his phenomenal contribution to the sport for close on 50 years.

From now on, the date February 14 will for many of us, not only relate to St Valentine’s Day, but also the day on which we lost a truly remarkable hockey icon.

 

By Richard Macer

Winchester HC
Hampshire HA
Hon. Secretary Southern Counties HA

With many thanks to those who assisted.

Val Robinson Gwyn OBE at Palace 1985
 
Val Robinson, shown here with husband Gwyn, was awarded
an OBE for services to hockey in 1985.

 

A Tribute to Val Robinson OBE:
International hockey star, club player, BBC Superstars winner, footballer, golfer, hockey coach and friend.

18.12.1941 – 12.02.2022

The hockey family will have been saddened this week by the news of Val Robinson’s death at the age of 80. Her many achievements are being extensively covered in the national press and on social media. Some of these tributes can be explored through the links at the end of this tribute. A very personal tribute to Val has also been written by Alison Baker, a pupil of Val’s at Stratton School, Biggleswade in the 1960s and then later an international teammate. This is attached in the document below.

At a time when women’s hockey had little coverage outside of the hockey-playing world, one name was still familiar to many households – that of Val Robinson. She was one of the stars of the annual England women’s international hockey match held at Wembley Stadium, which was televised most years in the 1960s and ‘70s. Later, Val was the winner of the 1979 and 1981 BBC Superstars events at the age of 40!

 

1973 Eng v Ireland Wembley Val Robinson     

1974 wembley val robinson

     
Val Robinson in action at Wembley Stadium vs Ireland in 1973 (left) and Netherlands in 1974 (right).

 

Val wasn’t always the most influential player on the pitch or the most effective – being tightly marked by the opposition became the norm for Val – but she was always the favourite of the schoolgirls and the decibel levels went up several notches whenever she received the ball. Why did people admire her so? Maybe they recognised a free spirit and ferocious courage within that slight frame? Maybe it was the skill of her mazey runs with the ball on the end of her stick on what was often a heavily rutted grass pitch?

Val’s international record is unique and her hockey career reads very impressively. She played in at least 149 England matches in the 21 years between 1963-84, scoring 47 goals. She also appeared in 21 matches for Great Britain (GB) between 1978 and 1981 scoring 8 goals. No other player has shown such longevity and consistency of performance. A number of the top modern-day players have certainly chalked up many more caps, but none have extended their careers anywhere near to 20 years. If England and GB had played the same number of games a year in the 1960s and ‘70s as they do now, it could be argued that Val would have accrued in the region of 400 caps which puts her on a parr with Kate Richardson-Walsh, who now holds the record for the most GB & England international appearances.

 

1966 England 1
 
Val Robinson in the England team of 1966, seated second in from the right.

 

Perhaps a hypothetical comparison, but Kate’s respect for Val’s legacy was clear in the tribute she gave upon hearing of Val’s death:

“With her ability in both hockey and football, today she would have been a professional sportswoman and it’s because of people like Val that I got to play hockey full-time at the end of my career. She was well known not just for her hockey ability but also for winning BBC Superstars twice which is no mean feat! We stand on her shoulders. What Val stood for and what she achieved as a sportswoman is an inspiration to me. Her name and her legacy will live on forever.”

 

Watch Val Robinson compete in BBC Superstars

https://youtu.be/g3Ojq82X_a8

 

Val began her international career at a time when selectors picked 11 players for specific positions, and there were no substitutes. There were no team coaches and no structured training programmes; the players had to buy or hire their kit. They travelled to games independently, often on public transport and matches were played on grass pitches, often not of an ideal quality. By the time she retired, the international game had changed beyond all recognition – all international teams had a coach and a manager; a squad of 16 was selected and matches were played on artificial pitches. There were physiotherapists, training weekends and fitness programmes along with sponsored kit, team coaches to travel to games and interviews with the media. How did Val view all these changes? Most she welcomed – such as the move to artificial pitches and more fluid team line-ups that suited her skilful and adventurous style. She did admit that while always being a very fit player, she never took to ‘training programmes’, never used any of the physiotherapists and was always wary of ‘officialdom’ and the media. Would she have thrived in the modern game – of course she would! She was a supreme athlete with a courageous spirit and a will to win. As all top strikers would tell you, they hate being substituted so rolling subs would have been a challenge to Val but she would still have relished that challenge.

 

1981 wembley banner
 

A banner flown during the England women's hockey match against Wales at
Wembley Stadium in 1981. It reads, "Val Robinson eats leeks for Breakfast".

 

What did Val’s teammates think of her? I have been reading so many tributes this week and what comes through is a mixture of the high standards of excellence that she set for herself, her courage in the face of the many ‘agricultural’ tackles that she was subjected to over the years, her humility and the fun of being in her company. Val was not a conventional leader; she never took to the captain’s role, but she was the centre of most teams she played for and her teammates loved her company and support.

Even after she retired from the top flight, Val continued to enjoy club hockey for Great Harewood Hockey Club for many years (now Blackburn Northern) and a number of us continued to enjoy playing with Val for Rambling Roses, a team for past England players. Rambling Roses were invited to play in many exhibition matches and travelled abroad to play in several tournaments. Without the pressure of the full international, these were great games – the comradery on the pitch and watching Val in action will be a lasting memory for us all. The last time we played was in an exhibition match in 2010 as part of the Women’s Champions Trophy at Nottingham – Val was nearly 70 and maybe couldn’t run around as fast as Jane Sixsmith but her class still shone through.

So many people felt they ‘knew’ Val and would tell stories of when they played with her, against her or simply watched her. Playing in a modern era she could have had a massive twitter following – except that she would have hated it. Essentially, she was a very private person who was happy in the company of her beloved husband Gwyn, her family and a few close friends. To hear Val speak about her career and her memories, you can listen to an interview conducted with her in June 2021 below.

So, to finish, we should all raise a glass (a half pint of bitter in honour of Val) and sing “And here’s to you Mrs Robinson”.

 

Enjoy The Hockey Museum's Interview With Val Robinson

https://youtu.be/9191JvGpEio

 

Katie Dodd
18 February 2022

Interview conducted 18 June 2021.

 

Other Tributes To Val Robinson

pdfA personal tribute from Alison Baker can be downloaded by clicking the PDF icon to the right (top icon). Alison was a pupil of Val’s at Stratton School, Biggleswade in the 1960s and then later an international teammate.

Click for England Hockey's tribute to Val Robinson.

Click for The Hockey Paper's tribute to Val Robinson.

Cick for The Guardian's tribute to Val Robinson.

pdfVal Robinson's obituary from The Telegraph is downloadable by clicking the PDF icon to the right (middle icon). Copyright: The Telegraph.

pdfVal Robinson's obituary from The Times is downloadable by clicking the PDF icon to the right (bottom icon). Copyright: The Times.

 

 

Ian Fitzgerald
 
Ian Fitzgerald with his wife Pauline.

 

This article was previously published in the Eastcote Hockey Club newsletter, edition no. 813, December 2021.


1930 – 10.12.2021
 

It is with great sadness and an immense sense of loss that Eastcote Hockey Club (EHC) of Ruislip, Middlesex, announces the passing of one of its greatest sons, Ian Fitzgerald. Ian represented the life and soul of the club for well over 50 years. He was 91.

At about 9pm on Friday 10 December while socialising with his wife Pauline and three generations of his family, Ian fell asleep in his chair at the home of one of his grandchildren and passed away peacefully without any indication to those around him of what had befallen him. They thought that he had just fallen asleep!
To say that Ian lived life to the full would be an understatement to all who knew him well. Even in his twilight years he was fully active at EHC, having been re-elected as the Club’s General Secretary for the forty-second time in September.

And in his ‘spare’ time Ian was equally industrious in the affairs of his local Church. Ian was a devout Catholic and he was not only devoted to the spiritual aspect of his faith but also helped, in practical terms, the local priest to conduct his many ecclesiastic functions during each week. Ian was a man of action even unto the very end of his life.

With respect to EHC, there were three spheres of influence that defined his value to the club.

In his younger days he played in the First XI. He was a deadly striker and seemed to find the goal from whatever angle from which he was shooting. He also played as an inside forward with the vision to snake passes through the defence to his forwards, who anticipated his passes and latched on to them with very little effort. In his day Eastcote were very fortunate in having several penalty corner specialists. Ian was one of them along with Wally Howe and Denzil Beale.

His membership of EHC did not rest in his capacity as a player. For over forty years he served the club as its General Secretary alongside Graham Pile as Chairman. The Club Secretary’s duties are managing the administration that enables the club and its members to function effectively, along with having close involvement in the general running of the club. This alone should have kept anyone extremely busy without much spare time for any other activities; but Ian somehow found time to take on the role of Bar Manager which entailed him placing the orders to keep the bar well stocked and even serving behind the bar himself regularly. He was also the club’s Maintenance Manager including keeping the bar equipment up to scratch.

Even then, Ian’s workload did not stop. The laying down of a new Astro pitch, the rapid increase of the number of men’s and women’s teams and the phenomenal enlargement of the colts section not only meant more administrative work for Ian, but he was also directly involved in playing hockey every week, coaching the youngsters every week, and helping to prepare the club premises for an increase in social events that inevitably followed the growth of the club. Ian was always one of the first helpers on the scene if the club hall needed decorating.

Lastly, in his later years, Ian took up serious umpiring. Even there he was involved, for many years, in the administration of the Middlesex Umpires Association. He appointed umpires for several games at the weekends and even regularly umpired himself. Ian got involved in the administration of university hockey umpiring by making himself available to umpire several mid-week games. One would think that there was not enough time for any one person to carry out so much work. Yet Ian was not just “any” person. He was extraordinary. He was determined to work on and on, and then work some more.
In addition to the above, Ian, along with Pauline, found time to raise four wonderful children. Susan, John, Mark, and Scott are a fine bunch of kids who are a tribute to both parents in their approach to life.

Ian was an Anglo Indian who was born and raised in Bangalore (as it was then called), India. He was sent by his parents to one of the best secondary schools in the Indian sub-continent. He was a product of the Raj and the school he attended was founded in 1856 by the Jesuit Fathers just one year before the Indian Mutiny in 1857. St Mary’s in Mumbai was a top private school and attracted the attention of many Anglo-Indian parents who had lofty ambitions for their children. Ian was a boarder there throughout his secondary school years, and though he went home each year for holidays, his character and principles were moulded by the Jesuit Fathers who figured prominently in his formative years. It could explain his dedication to his faith in the Church and his devotional work ethic.

Trevor Jones

 

17.05.1930 – 24.10 2021

It is sad to relate the passing of a great servant of our sport with the passing of Trevor Jones at the age of 91. Trevor was a true all-rounder within hockey having played outfield and in goal, becoming an umpire and involving himself in administration throughout. Trevor accomplished these things at all levels, including international.

Trevor’s early life saw him play rugby and football at school as well as during National Service in the RAF. He excelled at football, playing for several well-known Midlands’ clubs, including a trial for Notts County and he was a very useful club cricketer in the Birmingham area. However, it was not until his late 20s when working for Dunlop that he was introduced to hockey. Having been injured playing football but still able to run, Trevor was talked into playing outfield for one of Fort Dunlop Hockey Club’s lower elevens. Several of his work colleagues played hockey and the sports facilities at Fort Dunlop were second to none.

Having played cricket, tennis and golf he had no difficulty in hitting the ball, yet his greatest asset was his speed. He set himself a target of getting into the 1st XI within 12 games which he achieved on the twelfth game. The following season the 1st XI goalkeeper (GK) left for university and owing to his football experience Trevor was asked to play in goal. He prospered in this position and after a couple of seasons played for Warwickshire. At 6’2” he was very imposing as a GK, but county appearances were rare as the first choice Warwickshire keeper played for England and Great Britain.

Playing in goal provides an aware of everything going on before you. Trevor considered that the appointed umpires were of ’mixed ability’ and decided that he could do better than most. He saw umpiring as a different route to represent his country. In 1966 he joined the Birmingham Counties Hockey Umpires Association and in 1974 progressed to his first international appointment, Ireland vs Spain at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

In 1975, having umpired three full international matches, his name was put forward to the International Hockey Federation (FIH). Trevor received appointments for them and for the Hockey Association (HA) until 1980 when, at the age of 50, he had reached the compulsory retirement age. During his career Trevor umpired 20 international matches and many English county and club finals and championship games.

Having gained a lot from the game, Trevor always tried to put something back into hockey. He became Fort Dunlop HC. Honorary Secretary (Hon. Sec.), Warwickshire Hon. Sec., Midlands Hon. Sec., and Hon. Sec. for the Great Britain Hockey Board during which time the men won a bronze medal at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. In addition, whilst working for Swiftplan in Bahrain, Trevor set up an umpires’ association as well as umpiring and coaching new umpires.

Trevor formally retired whilst at the top but continued to umpire at club level for Reading HC for more than twenty years, mainly for the top veterans’ team. The tribute from Reading HC (elsewhere on our website) praises Trevor’s unstinting contribution to hockey club life towards the end of his very full life.

During his long hockey career, Trevor made many longstanding friendships around the world. His understanding wife Janet, to whom he was married for more than fifty years, contributed greatly to this. Having finally hung up his whistle a couple of years ago, Trevor and Janet moved to Shrewsbury to be near family but, much to Trevor’s sorrow, Janet passed away not long afterwards.

A personal note from the The Hockey Museum Curator Mike Smith, a former member of Fort Dunlop HC:

"I was the recipient of Trevor’s encouragement and enthusiasm at the start of my hockey life nearly sixty-five years ago when I was a schoolboy. He handwrote personal notes to me on the weekly Fort Dunlop HC newsletters that went out to members. That I still remember his encouragement a lifetime on shows the enduring effect my old friend had on my hockey journey."

 

Mike Smith

Peter Boizot

 

16.11.1929 – 05.12.2018

Most hockey enthusiasts will have enjoyed Pizza Express or a Peroni beer at some time, but would they know of their connections to hockey?

The answer lies in the story of Peter Boizot, described on his newly installed plaque in Peterborough Town Hall as “Mr Peterborough”. Yet Peter was also a great hockey enthusiast and the founder of Pizza Express. He loved jazz music and these four passions – his hometown, Italian cuisine, hockey and jazz – dominated Peter’s life. Each would merit a long story in their own right.

 

Peter Boizot plaque

 

For the good people of his home town to describe him as Mr Peterborough is a great accolade and to erect a plaque to him in the Town Hall is a much-deserved honour. Peter saved Peterborough United Football Club bringing in the irrepressible Barry Fry as his manager, took over the splendid Great Northern Hotel and gave great support to the Cathedral. Few can have shown such support for Peterborough.

Peter founded Pizza Express from which he imported and launched Peroni beer into the UK marketplace. The company’s success enabled him to indulge his passions including jazz and hockey. He even turned the basement of one of his restaurants into a celebrated jazz venue. Within hockey, Peter was President of Hampstead HC and he bought a local pub to provide them with a clubhouse! His generosity extended into the wider sport with sponsorship of the South League, the London League and many other causes within hockey.

Peter died in 2018 but not before he heard about the The Hockey Museum. Thankfully he donated some splendid trophies, one of which is pictured, and we hold a framed presentation piece of the ties of all the member clubs of the London League that were presented to Peter as a token of their thanks and appreciation.

pdfMaybe we in hockey should erect a hockey heritage blue plaque to commemorate a great friend of our sport?

Further information on Peter’s life can be downloaded as PDF courtesy of his long-time hockey club Hampstead & Westminster HC. Click the PDF icon to download. Alternatively, the Pizza Express website carries a tribute; click here.

 

Peterborough Cup
 
An ornate silver trophy donated to The Hockey Museum by Peter Boizot in 2014. It depicts a men's hockey scene in relief and is understood to have been a Peterborough Hockey Club trophy around 1913.

 

John Grimmer

 

11.11.1941 – 30.06.2021

We are sad to announce the passing of John Handley Grimmer. John was a 1st XI player for Hounslow Hockey Club and Middlesex County Hockey in the 1960s and 1970s. He went on to coach both sides to great success.

John played for England in 2 outdoor internationals and 6 indoor internationals in early '70s.

He is fondly remembered by teammates and opponents alike.

John had an eye for spotting young talented players such as Jon Potter and Kulbir Bhaura. He also arranged overseas tours for the purpose of gaining experience for young talent, several of whom have gone on to enjoy Olympic success.

John had a fine cricketing career playing for Wembley Cricket Club in late '60s/early '70s and he was a leading light in the foundation of the Middlesex County league. John joined Shepherds Bush Cricket Club in the mid-'70s. There his efforts help to create an environment of inclusivity for younger players. His legacy is embodied in the reputation Shepherds Bush now enjoys as a leading example of a thriving multi-ethnic cricket club within the Middlesex League.

He will be remembered for doing all of this with a smile on his face. An exceptional raconteur, his friendships in the sporting world extend well beyond these shores. Our sympathies to his family circle, wife Di, sons, Simon and Andrew, daughters Adele and Emily and grandchildren Raff, Zac, Bjorn, Betsy, Anton and Oskar.

Freddie Martin

 

John Grimmer 1      John Grimmer 2
     
A floral tribute to John Grimmer from Ladykillers HC.
Ella Vlandy back row far right in Scotland team 1939
 
Scotland women's hockey team, 1939. Ella Vlandy is back row far right.

 

06.02.1914 – 14.07.2021

The Hockey Museum is saddened to report the recent passing of Ella Vlandy. At 107, she was thought to be the eldest surviving Scottish international hockey player. Ella was still living independently in North Berwick and in February this year, celebrated her 107th birthday. She received many messages from friends and neighbours but sadly, due to Covid restrictions these all had to be by card or telephone.

Born in 1914, before the start of WW1, Ella was brought up in North Berwick. Her father, Maurice, came from Greece and married a Scottish girl, Mary, before taking on the running of a hotel called Redcroft in North Berwick, just south of Edinburgh. She was sent to a boarding school in Edinburgh called St Bride’s. When interviewed in 2014 on her 100th birthday, she remembered that it very unusual in North Berwick for girls to attend boarding school, but she thought it was because her parents were busy with the hotel.

In 1932 she went to Dartford College of Physical Education (PE) in Kent where she played hockey, lacrosse, netball, cricket, tennis, and rounders. She would also have trained in gymnastics as Dartford at that time was the leading college in training the Bergman Osterberg Swedish drill.

When she qualified as a teacher in 1935, her first post was at St Columba’s School, Kilmacolm, Glasgow. By now Ella was excelling at hockey and a year later, she was first selected for the Scottish team. She played hockey for Scotland as a forward both before and after World War 2. Her first game in 1936 was against England when Scotland lost 0-1. She then went on to play against South Africa. Ella played up until the start of the war in 1939 and then when international sport started up again in 1946, she played for a further three years until 1948, gaining 8 caps in total.

Ella joined the staff at Dunfermline PE College in 1938 as a part-time ‘officer’ but, when the college moved to Aberdeen in 1939, she took on a larger role at the Teacher Training Centre in Aberdeen where she majored in outdoor games. In later life, she moved to Dundee Teacher Training College and remained there until she retired. In recent years she returned to her home in North Berwick.

Ella was not only a talented hockey player but also played county tennis and was a keen golfer. She joined the North Berwick Golf Club in 1946 and went on to be Captain. In later years she was made an Honorary Member. Ella did not marry and had no children but led a very active and sociable life for over 10 decades.

 

By Katie Dodd

This obituary has been written with help from Scottish historian, Jane Claydon.

 

Further Commemoration

pdfFurther information can be found courtesy of articles from the East Lothian Courier. Click here and here.

An obituary from The Scotsman newspaper can be downloaded by clicking the PDF icon.

 

 

Ally Fredericks in action for South Africa

 

02.09.1971 – 15.06.2021

The tragic premature passing this month of former hockey Olympian Allistar Fredericks in Johannesburg has been widely mourned by hockey folk beyond the shores of his native South Africa.

Allistar's story is one of the modern world. In 1994 he became the first non-white international in the nation's long hockey history to be selected first for the World Cup, then the All African Games and culminating at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996.

His rise to such achievements following South Africa's return to the international fold after decades of political isolation was against all odds. He was born and raised in a township in Kimberley in the Northern Cape. His educational background was limited, denied even basic provision of books and facilities in the troubled times of school boycotts and the social unrest of the 1980s.

Allistar's (Ally) escape was through his love of playing hockey at his local segregated club which was affiliated to the South African Council on Sport (SACOS) who opposed the division of sport on racial grounds in South Africa.

By the age of 18, he was already making heads turn with his array of stick skills, fast hands and dexterity of footwork. His sporting talents were natural and he could have been selected for his Griqualand Province in football or rugby as well.

Ally chose hockey, but the law of the land only allowed him to play in SACOS representative teams. His nature was always positive and genial, and it was these attributes which allowed him to qualify as a 'fitter and turner' in the metallurgical engineering workshops. He at least had a trade to fall back on.

His big break came in 1994 when, at the age of 23, Ally moved to Pretoria where the new Nelson Mandela government broke the shackles to non-white sportsmen's advancement. A newly appointed international team coach with a more enlightened approach from the selection panel ensured that Ally's talents were to be recognised with his selection for the Sydney World Cup.

The inclusion of a person of colour for the first time caused a sensation in the hockey world for the next three years as South Africa emerged out of isolation to become a top ten nation globally and Africa's premier power.

 

Ally Fredericks with Gavin Featherstone
 

Allistar Fredericks with Gavin Featherstone.

Images courtesy of Gavin Featherstone.

 

It was never a case of just Ally's natural abilities; it was all about what he represented at this dynamic time in the sports-mad nation. He played with a smile on his face, a joie de vivre seldom matched by his team mates or his opponents. His positive response to coaching was infectious which made him a valued and popular member of a young and ambitious squad. His partnership as a twin striker with Greg 'Beefy' Nicol was feared throughout international hockey.

Come the Atlanta Olympic Games, fame had come to Allistar amongst his own community in South Africa. He was aware of this and perhaps he felt the need to redirect his focus after he fell out of favour with successive coaches and managers.

Ally redirected his concern and concentration into the emergence of previously disadvantaged players creating new opportunities for playing in the provincial and national age group teams. Exciting new talents emerged under his care and guidance, notably spread across cities like Port Elizabeth, East London and Kimberley. As a coaching coordinator or as a national team performance director he adopted a hands-on approach to allow free upward passage to the underprivileged in South African hockey communities.

As evidence to this, in recent years Ally opened his own hockey academy at Beaulieu College just north of Johannesburg. The school generously offered hockey and sports scholarships to young aspiring players thrust out of difficult environments to receive tremendous academic and sports training amongst the finest facilities. Future national team players are today rolling off this accredited nursery.

Ally had turned full circle to offer to many what he had solely and independently experienced. He was the first and he always valued and appreciated that.

Allistar Fredericks was one of a kind, always playing and living life with a smile on his face. His name gives his memory an everlasting note:

He was AlliSTAR.

South African hockey is in a far better place for his contribution and experience.

 

Gavin Featherstone
South Africa National and Olympic Head Coach 1994-1996.

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