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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.


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