Scotland: Neil Menzies retires from Scottish Hockey

Neil Menzies has retired from Scottish Hockey after being involved with the organisation as a player, or as a coach, for 50 years.

Over the years Neil has served Scottish Hockey as Scotland Women Head Coach; Scotland U21 Women Head Coach; and assistant coach for the Scotland Women’s National Team. He was also assistant coach for the GB Elite Development Programme.

In 2019 Neil became Scottish Hockey’s Talent Pathway Head Coach, which involved working more closely with the national age group coaches in the ongoing development and alignment of the talent system, while leading a number of key initiatives such as a revamped Scottish Hockey Academy Programme.

In the beginning, Neil only played hockey because his school would not let him play football, but that, he says, turned out to be a blessing.

Neil’s school coach was a maths teacher, but more importantly a hockey enthusiast with a strong technical knowledge, and an amazing ability to teach, and to inspire. This grounding set Neil on a path that has so far seen him involved in hockey for 54 years.

Having resisted the desire to work in sport, Neil eventually joined Scottish hockey as a full-time member of staff in 2012, after a career in IT within the chemical industry.

It was as a student at Aberdeen University where Neil set out on his coaching journey, coaching the women’s indoor team. At that time, Neil was also club captain of Ruthrieston HC, in a role where being captain was synonymous with being coach. Coaching was always in his blood.

On moving to Glasgow he joined Western Hockey club, which eventually led Neil to coaching the women’s first team while still playing hockey himself; by this point Neil had been an established internationalist with three European Championships to his name.

He had also been selected to train with GB, preparing for the Moscow Olympics, but was never capped having missed out on trip to Pakistan due to illness.

During Neil’s time coaching the Glasgow Western Ladies first team, they competed regularly in Europe, winning Bronze and three silver medals in a four-year run from 1988 to 1991.

Scottish Hockey President Lynn Forsyth scored the winner in the 5-4 game against HGC that won the bronze medal. Neil regards this as the biggest highlight in his time in coaching club hockey, as the Dutch were rarely beaten by anyone.

At international level Neil was involved in 13 international tournaments as a coach. Further to that, and most importantly, he has been key to the development of thousands of athletes, many of whom have gone onto represent Scotland, and GB, on the biggest stage.

Neil Menzies said, “Hockey has been my life for over 50 years. While I am retiring from my paid job with Scottish Hockey, I still intend to stay active in hockey because I still love the game and the people involved in it.

“I am a great believer that we need to develop players with stronger technical abilities, and so plan to continue to help coach in the Brave Academy programme for some time yet.”

Scottish Hockey’s Director of Hockey Operations Jennifer Griffin said, “I only had the privilege of working with Neil for one year before he retired, but his impact across the hockey landscape in Scotland has been exceptional. Neil was always happiest when on the pitch working with players of all ages and stages.

“For the short time I worked with him, he was the first one to volunteer to help with any squad if needed, and was never precious over where his input went. His contribution and dedication to the sport is second to none, and although we will miss him being part of our staff team we wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Everyone at Scottish Hockey would like to thank Neil for his tremendous service to hockey in Scotland and wish him a wonderful retirement.

by Scotland Hockey

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